Before engaging in potato farming, it is important to consider the suitability of the land which you intend to farm.
You should seek to answer the following questions ;
- Has the site been used for production of potato or crops in the Solanaceous family such as tomato, tree tomato, brinjals, capsicum, pepino melons and black night shade for the last 3 seasons? Establish whether there were any serious diseases/pest incidences.
- Is the site prone to run-off rain water from other fields where potato or crops from Solanaceous family have been cultivated before?
If the answer to the first two questions is positive, then the site is not suitable and an alternative site should be identified and subjected to the same selection criteria. A gently sloping surface topography is also good as it allows proper drainage.
The next step is to carry out soil test on the site. Soil testing is the analysis of soil samples to determine the nutrient and contamination levels, composition, and other characteristics such as the acidity or pH levels. Nematodes, Fusarium wilt and Bacterial wilt are serious soil borne potato pests and disease. When potatoes are planted on infected soil it leads to high losses. This can also result in excessive use of pesticides and fungicides, which is harmful to both humans and beneficial organisms. It is also important to test for the nutrient status of the soil in order to establish if there are any additional inputs needed to make the soil optimum for potato growing. The pH should range between 5.0 and 7.0 but the ideal pH should be 5.5.
While potato can be grown in a wide range of soil types, well-drained loamy to sandy loam soil is the most recommended. Black soils that have undesirable physical and chemical qualities should be avoided. The soil should be deep, light, loose and well drained but able to retain moisture.