Unlike other major field crops, potatoes are mainly reproduced vegetatively, from other potatoes. Therefore, a part of each year’s crop from about 5 to 15 percent, depending on the quality of the harvested tubers is set aside for re-use in the next planting season. Most farmers in our country select and store their own seeds for planting in the next season unlike farmers in the developed countries which are more likely to purchase disease free certified seeds from dedicated suppliers.
The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a herbaceous annual crop that grows up to 100 cm (40 inches) tall. Potato has got compound leaves and as the potato plant grows, its compound leaves manufacture starch that is transferred to the ends of its underground stems which are called stolon. The stems then thicken to form a few or as many as 20 tubers close to the soil surface. The number of tubers that actually reach maturity depends on available moisture and soil nutrients. Tubers may vary in shape and size, and normally weigh up to 300 g each.
At the end of the growing season, the plant’s leaves and stems die down to the soil level and its new tubers detach from their stolon. The tubers then serve as a nutrient store that allows the plant to survive the cold and later regrow and reproduce. Each tuber has a range of between two to ten eyes (buds), which are arranged in a spiral pattern around its surface. The buds generate shoots that grow into new plants when conditions are again favourable.