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I have been purchasing seed potatoes from a local garden center to replace potatoes which I have saved from the previous year now for several years. I have heard that every four years you should purchase new seed potatoes, and it has been my experience that after several years the harvest from my saved potatoes is not as productive.The term "first generation seed potatoes" is apparently what I am purchasing when I go to the local garden center for replacements. An explain of the term "first generation seed potatoes" would be appreciated, and why is it saved potatoes do not do as well after several successive plantings. I do rotate the area of my potato plantings on a five year plan.
First generation seed potatoes are produced in a protected envorinment from certified disease free PLANTS. Every year the seed potatoes must be from new plants, not saved seed potatoes to be certified first generation and must be grown in the protected environment. Ronningers does their certified organic seed potatoes this way, growing them in a greenhouse.
All potatoes grown from these first generation potatoes are then 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc generation and can never move back to 1st generation. After 7th generation, they can no longer be used by seed companies as certified seed potatoes. (there is a difference between certified seed potatoes and certified first generation seed potatoes). Certified first generation seed potatoes are more expensive. Certified seed potatoes just means an inspector came to their field (or they certify themselves) that certain diseases were not apparent. The amount of diseases allowed depends upon the class of seed potato, i.e. 2nd generation or 7th generation. First generation are certified as NO DISEASE at all.
It isn't the way they are stored that causes them to loose vigor, it is the diseases they pick up along the way, mainly viruses but also certain bacterial and fungal diseases.
Hope this helps, sometimes I know what I want to say but have trouble explaining!
mraider, if you are interested in maintaining your own stock, you can actually save potato *seed*. It works a lot like saving tomato seed. Bear in mind the tubers you buy as seed potatoes may not produce true to type.
Certified seed potatoes will produce true to type, that is part of the certification. It is asexual reproduction, a tuber from the parent plant of the same variety used to produce another plant.
If you save seed and grow from true seed, it will be something different.
I meant to say earlier I used to buy all my seed potatoes from Ronninger. This past year they were full of disease, many of the seed potatoes were rotting when I received them. I probably won't ever buy from them again. What ever was causing them to rot transfered to the new potatoes, we had a horrible crop this year. I planted 650 lbs of seed potatoes, so it wasn't a small loss. Yes, I did call and complain more than once. Their response was "we will make note of that and inspect our storage area."
Thanks for the great feed back. I wasn't sure if first generation certified seed potatoes were started from seed or some other means. Fortunately we have one decent local source for seed potatoes, and I have had good luck purchasing from them. Their stock varies from year to year which is fine with me. I'm a bit overwhelmed when I receive seed catalogs with dozens of varieties to choose from, not to mention the prices. Shippingl and as you say Calality. the methods used to grow disease free, first generation potatoes can certainly drive the cost up. Montana is known for growing seed potatoes, but in recent years there has been some weather and disease related issues, so I like to see what I'm buying as well as having the opportunity to discuss with the owner any concerns I may have.
Your responses have been very helpful and I have been kicking around some questions to bounce off the owner of the greenhouses where I purchase most of my garden supplies now. Although I have started most of my plants from saved seed, I have found it interesting that this establishment sells a wide variety of the plants I like to grow at a very reasonable price. With seed prices on the rise as well as reduced quantities of seed in the packages, I am finding it much simpler and actually less expensive to purchase the plants in some cases. Your suggestion about growing potatoes from the seed in potato plant pods Nicole sounds Intriguing, however I am getting a bit lazy in my old age and have given up on trying to grow things like onions for instant from seed. My main garden in 6,000 sq ft and I have another 1,500 square feet to contend with, so simpler is sometimes better for me.
Understood Nichole. I have saved seed from various crops but as you say, things don't always turn out as expected. I have had crosses with zucchini and pumpkin and some weird tomatoes as well. I think many of us grow the heirloom or open pollinated varieties in order to save seed. Potatoes however are a crop I have never purposely tried to replant from seed. I have seen small potatoes in my garden when spring tilling. I figured they were from seed which had fallen from the previous years plants. I now snip off the seed buds as they develop. I figured it's like onion and garlic plants. If you allow the seed pods to develop it takes away energy from the plants.
I understand what you were saying now. My potatoes made lots of seed this spring and I just tossed them on the ground. I wonder if any will come up later? I never thought about trying to grow them from seed until I read here on DG about true seed.