Potatoes: How to save frosted seed potatoes?

February has become the coldest month of Winter in recent years. Seed potatoes that are laid out to produce chits can be effected by frost especially if you have thin walls in your shed.

You can tell if they have been effected because you’ll see dark patches on the seed potatoes. If this happens just once or twice before you plant them they will be fine. But if there is a prolonged period of frost this can break down the internal structure of the potato so much that all you end up with is a mush of uselessness.

When I’ve experienced a light frost it’s usually followed by a day of sunshine so I put the seed potatoes outside on a table so they gentle dry in the sun. If frost is due for more than a day then I move them back into the house but keep them in the hall as this doesn’t get as warm as the rest of the house. Whatever you do, don’t put them in the dark as this will produce long thin and weak shoots that will break off the moment you try and plant them.

Some older gardeners would cut off the damaged section but this gives you an open wound where disease can enter so I would advise against this method. During the Dig for Victory campaign in the 1940s gardeners would often cut seed potatoes into half as long as each section had a few ‘eyes’ where the shoots would come from. But this was done because of the shortage of seeds during the period rather than from choice. There are no records to show how much this reduced an overall harvest.

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One comment

  1. Also if the spud has been frost damaged cut that piece off on planting. The damaged part can cause the whole tuber to rot. Cutting the spud doesn’t seem to harm them. In fact the old boys often cut the larger seed spuds in two before planting.

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