potato farming in India

Potatoes are a popular vegetable across the globe. Moreover, this tasty yet nutritious vegetable first originated in South America. This vegetable is also known by the scientific name “Solanum tuberosum L”, which translates to “king of vegetables”.

This vegetable is an economical food and is easily accessible to the common man in India. Potato farming has been there in the nation for over 300 years. Furthermore, this vegetable is called the 4th largest crop, right after rice, wheat & maize.

Technical Factors to Sow, Grow & Harvest High-Yielding Potatoes

Let’s review some technical factors required to grow and harvest high-quality potatoes in India.

  • Ideal Climatic Conditions

Potatoes are suitable to grow at 24℃ temperature. Moreover, for the tuber, 20℃ is the ideal temperature. Potato grows well in cool temperatures and thus is commonly known as a cool-weather crop. 

Whereas for harvesting potatoes, the ideal temperature is between 14-20°C. Usually, well-drained soil for potato cultivation is considered important and productive soil. 

  • Soil Requirements

Sandy loam or loamy soil rich in the organic matter having good drainage properties is suitable for potato cultivation. However, the soil’s ph level must be between 5.2-6.4.

Additionally, potatoes thrive in well-drained soil and avoid too soggy soil. Also, ensure the soil is not too saline or alkaline in nature. Typically, loose soil that provides less resistance for tuber expansion is highly suitable. 

  • Land Preparation for Potato Cultivation

Plough the well-pulverised beds at least 20-25 cm deep to prepare the field. After finishing ploughing, perform harrowing 2-3 times. Level the soil after completing 1-2 spanking tasks. Moreover, after sowing, ensure there is enough moisture in the soil. Experts say that using a good quality implement like a VST power tiller can help finely pulverise the field.

  • Manure & Fertilisers

For potato cultivation, Ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate are the best options. Moreover, calcium ammonium nitrate, ammonium chloride and urea are also suitable for achieving high-yielding potato crops.

Adding aged or composted manure is the best way to achieve high yield organically. Here’s how you should add this organic manure.

  • Firstly, add compost to the soil during the fall season before planting. Doing this will give soil microbes time to break it down into required nutrients. 
  • Going forward, spread the manure throughout the garden with the help of a plough or rotary tiller hoe before folding it into 6-8 inches of soil.

Chemical fertiliser usage will depend on the levels of nutrients in the soil. For instance, in the case of volcanic soils, phosphorus would be lacking.

Furthermore, adding organic fertiliser to the soil can provide good nutrient balance and help maintain soil layers & their overall structure. Moreover, the fertiliser for the crop should be decided as per the expected yield, variety’s potential and usage of the harvested crop.

  • Irrigation for potatoes

It is important to keep the potato vines well-watered during summer, specifically during the flowering stage. When developing tubers during the flowering period, provide optimum water to the plants to produce a healthy crop. 

Potatoes require consistent moisture. Make sure to water regularly and maintain 1-2 inches of water/per week for favourable production. You should stop watering if you see leaves turning yellow and appearing dry. By doing that, you can heal the potatoes by the harvesting time. Moreover, drip irrigation is the best watering method.

  • Harvesting of potatoes

Potatoes are ready to harvest within 75-120 days from planting. Moreover, the harvesting time will vary according to the sowing area, soil type and the variety of potato you prefer to grow.

The crop must be harvested in hilly areas when the soil is not too wet. To start the process, gently dig around the plants. Make sure not to be too harsh while doing it. Also, prioritise extracting the large potatoes and leaving the small ones to continue their growth.

Types of Potatoes

There are many types of potatoes, some of the most common ones include:

  1. Russet Potatoes: large, brown-skinned potatoes that are great for baking, frying, and mashing.
  2. Red Potatoes: small to medium-sized potatoes with thin, red skin and moist, creamy flesh.
  3. Yellow Potatoes: medium to large-sized potatoes with yellow skin and a slightly sweet, buttery flavour.
  4. Fingerling Potatoes: small, finger-shaped potatoes that come in a variety of colours including red, yellow, and purple.
  5. New Potatoes: young, small potatoes that have thin, delicate skin and tender, sweet flesh.
  6. Sweet Potatoes: large, sweet-tasting potatoes with bright orange flesh.
  7. Purple Potatoes: small to medium-sized potatoes with deep purple skin and dense, creamy flesh.

These are just some of the many types of potatoes available. The type of potato you choose will depend on the dish you’re making and your personal taste preferences.

What are the Top Methods to Cultivate High-Quality Potatoes?

  1. Choose the right variety: Choose a potato variety that is suitable for your climate and intended use (for example, some varieties are better for boiling or frying).
  2. Prepare the soil: Potatoes need well-drained soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. If necessary, amend the soil with compost or peat moss to improve drainage and fertility.
  3. Plant seed potatoes: Plant seed potatoes (small, whole potatoes or cut pieces of potatoes with at least one eye each) 4 to 6 inches deep and 12 to 15 inches apart in rows spaced 2 to 3 feet apart.
  4. Water and fertilize: Water the potatoes regularly, providing 1 inch of water per week. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks.
  5. Hill the plants: When the plants are 8 to 10 inches tall, mound soil around the stems to cover the lower leaves. Repeat every 2 to 3 weeks to keep the stems covered and prevent sunscald.
  6. Harvest: Harvest the potatoes when the plants have died back and the tops have yellowed. Dig carefully to avoid damaging the tubers.
  7. Cure and store: Place the harvested potatoes in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks to cure. Then, store them in a cool, dark place with good ventilation.

Potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves appear yellow and dry. Before harvesting, provide one irrigation and let the soil dry to begin harvesting. You should cut the plant at ground level for at least 8 days before harvesting. For that, you can use the optimum brand’s potato harvester of choice.

These were the top tips to consider while cultivating high-yielding potatoes in India. Moreover, the returns are huge if you plan to start a farming business plan for potato cultivation. You can achieve a yield of 25 tons per hectare or 10 tons per acre.