End of Season Report (3rd year of Potato Trial)
First of all a huge thanks to our potato sponsors (listed here in the data base) who were not adequately acknowledged this past season because of all of our website trials and tribulations over the past 18 months. If we’ve still got it wrong please contact us, we have skilled website staff now so we will get it right this time!
This project will have huge benefit for all home gardeners, and potato growers. We are finding out which ones are more resistant to the psyllid, which ones are very early and avoid the psyllid, which ones are still full of viruses and need further rogueing and which ones produce the most. This next season we are seriously beginning a branch of this project to see which ones can be grown in vertical spaces and grow tubers all up their stems, as all the organic gardening books say is possible but nobody I know of has had any success with it. (If you know of any potatoes that do grow up the stems and fill vertical spaces please let us know).
This is now our third year into this trial. Our first season was a great potato season, and the second and third were not, so it’s hard to compare the average weights. My feeling at this point is that we have made a huge difference to the quality and size of all cultivars but that we won’t see it until we have another good potato year. The first year we had no psyllids and now we are in the worst area of NZ for psyllid.
So this past season 2013 -14 was not a great potato season for us, we had too many staff changes to do full justice to this project, and we also had issues with regular appropriate watering. Thanks to Mel for saving the day, and then Tamsin after Mel!
Over all, the potatoes had low average crops compared to the first year, but the average health and evenness of the lines is getting better. I think if we have a reasonable season this next season we could see huge increases in average yields because the lines are now far more even because they have had (most of them) 3 years of being heavily rogued for viruses and beingh selected for seed from the healthiest heaviest croppers.
We can see that there are a few lines here that are not adapted to our climate, too dry and too hot and they just do not do well here. We’re going to send those cultivars back to Te Wai Pounamu for Jade Temepara of Hand Over A Hundy to grow out in her potato trials near Mount Peel. I can’t see much point in perservering with those lines here. If they do well down there we will find a way to make them available to South Island people. These lines are
1. Henry Flat (from Southland Henry Harrington collection)
2. Old Blue (from Southland)
3. Urenika Jade (from christchurch)
4. St Joseph’s from the West Coast
We have identified positively three years in a row now that we have in the collection some cultivars that are the same as others with different names
- Wai-iti is the same as Whanaako Ngati Porou so we have now decided to combine them as one line. We will call this line Wai-iti/Whanaako Ngati Porou.
- We also have Whitianga Bay which is the same as Uwhi. We will combine these and call that line Whitianga/Uwhi.
- Waikato and Maori Taranaki are also the same with maori Taranaki being superior in that it has less virus and heavier cros we we have discontinued Waikato and
- Finally we have Karupaera, which is the same as Ngateuteu. Ngateuteu is however very diseased and weaker than Karupaera so we will continue with Karupaera and discontinue Ngateuteu.
After 3 years of doing this, we now know which lines are tall growers, which are medium and which are low. This next season when we plant our potato trial we are going to make sure we plant the taller growing cultivars next to rather taller growing potatoes, and the lower growing cultivars next to each other. We are going to plant 1/3 of each cultivar in a block that we cover with the psyllid cloth to see how well that works compared to spraying with psyllid solution on the other third. We are also going to plant a block of them early, cover with frost cloth, plant loads of beneficial insectory plants and not spray or cover at all to see what happens there.
As per usual we will get a soil test done before we begin, Environmental fertilisers will as usual, sponsor the trial by interpreting the soil test then supplying us with the recommended fertiliser regime.
So this coming season will be year 4 of our research project. The aim is to clean up our heritage potatoes, using the principles of epigenetics (environment determines genetic expression), hoping that we will end up down the track with potatoes that yield far better crops and are far stronger and able to resist pests and diseases.
Our best looking possibilities from the trial so far have been as follows in descending order of weight produced. It seems clear that the crop each line produces is at least in part determined by the health of that line…. The more disease that is apparent, the smaller the crop
- Maori Taranaki
- Suttons supreme
- Wai-iti /Wanaako NgatiPorou
- Peru Ma
- Maori Chief
- Pink Fir
- Yellow Fir
- Chatham Island
The potatoes we sell through the back orders on our website are grown by Catherine and Joseph Land in the Hokianga and they also have a very strict selection and rogueing process and after many years of growing these potatoes their seed lines are known for their strength. As we find good lines in our trials at Koanga we send them seed and they integrate them into the lines they sell for seed.
The best time to plant potatoes is between mid August and mid September to avoid the psyllid.