Get Potatoes ready for chitting

13 January 2017 | Posted in Gardening by The Marshalls Family

The potatoes are out of the shed looking good and are ready for chitting. My personal preference is to place them in an old egg tray and store them in a cool but frost free place (I keep mine in my trusty garden shed).  You should see the first sign of shoots within a few weeks. This is the ideal time to prepare your potato bed, while eagerly awaiting planting time.

The varieties being most grown this year are the CharlotteMaris Peer and Rooster. I have never grown a maincrop before, but I am trying it this year as our local famer has sadly moved on, so fingers crossed mine will be as tasty.

Potato Growing Tips: Preparing the seed for planting

To get your potatoes off to a flying start it is often recommended that you ‘chit' them before planting.  This allows strong chits (sprouts) to develop on the tubers before planting.  Whilst this process is not essential for Maincrop varieties, it is strongly recommended for First Earlies and, to a lesser degree, for Salad varieties and Second Earlies.

Chitted PotatoesTo chit seed potatoes, place them just touching in a seed tray or individually in the sections of egg boxes.  Make sure the ‘rose' end (where most of the ‘eyes' are) is uppermost.  It is these eyes that will form the chits.  Place the trays in a cool, light frost-free environment at a temperature of about 45oF/7oC. 

The aim of chitting is to produce plump, dark green or purple shoots about 1in/2.5cm long.  Long, white shoots are a sign of too much heat and not enough light.  If shoots are slow to appear, about 3 weeks before planting move the tubers to a warmer position for a couple of weeks and then back to the original, cooler place for the final week.

Once you have chitted your potaotes and are ready to plant, if the soil is very cold or waterlogged I would suggest you delay for a few days to allow conditions to improve.  Store the ‘chitted' seed potatoes in a cool airy spot in full light for a week or so until the planting conditions are ideal. 

Avoid planting if the soil temperature is very low (below around 45ºF).  Encourage soil temperatures to rise by covering with polythene or fleece for a short period.

View our full seed potato growing guide here

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