Potato (Solanum tuberosum): Taxonomic position, Morphology, Propagation Harvesting, Diseases, and Pests

Taxonomic position

Kingdom: Plantae (plants)

Order: Solanales

 Family: Solanaceae

Genus: Solanum L. (Linnaeus)

Species: Solanum tuberosum L. (Linnaeus)

Origin and History

Potatoes are thought to have originated in South America’s middle Andean area. Potatoes were cultivated for centuries by South American Indians, and the tubers were a common food item. During the conquest, the Spaniards judged this economic plant worthy of introduction into Europe. In 1565, the Spaniards imported potatoes from Peru to Spain. Sir Francis Drake is thought to have brought them to England around 1586. The potato became an important food crop in Italy, France, and Ireland after its introduction to European agriculture. During the famine, Ireland’s potato harvest became a significant food crop. The potato was probably brought to India from Europe in the early seventeenth century by the Portuguese, who were the first to establish trade links to the east. The first mention of potato in India is in ‘Terry’s report of an Asaph Khan dinner served to Sir Thomas Rao at Ajmer in 1615. Around 1675, the potato was planted in several gardens in Surat and Karnataka. Potato cultivation in the northern hills began later than in the plains, but it became a cash crop much sooner. In the year 1822, potato cultivation began in the Nilgiri hills.


1. Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are a perennial herbaceous plant in the Solanaceae family that are grown for their delicious tubers.

2. A branching stem and alternately arranged leaves with leaflets of variable size and form characterize the potato plant.

3. The leaflets can be oval or oblong, and the leaves can grow to be 10-30 cm (4–12 in) long and 5-15 cm (2–6 in) wide.

4. Yellow tubers develop underground in the top 25 cm (10 in) of the soil, while the potato plant produces white or blue blooms.

 5. Depending on the cultivar, the tubers might be yellow, red, or purple. Potato plants can grow up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall and are only available during the growing season.

6.  Potato, often known as spud, Irish potato, white potato, or Spanish potato, is a South American vegetable.


Potatoes are mostly a fall and winter crop. Where sufficient rainfall and healthy soil are available, it grows successfully from sea level to snow line. Potatoes grow best in a deep, fertile, loose soil with temperatures ranging from 18 to 27°C (65-80°F) during the day and 12 to 18°C (55-65°F) at night. Plants can also be cultivated in burlap bags or large containers outside. In India’s plains, it is grown in the winter. It is planted as a summer crop in the northern slopes, however. Potato is a day plant that is grown as a long-day plant. For a rapid bulking rate, it needs favorable environmental circumstances during tuberization, such as low temperatures and short days. Tuber formation is best at around 20°C, and as the temperature rises, tuber formation decreases. At around 300 degrees Celsius, tuberization is severely harmed. The respiration rate increases as the temperature rises and the carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis are eaten instead of stored in the tuber. The size of leaflets is affected by high temperatures at any time during the growing season, resulting in tuber production being reduced. Long days are ideal for growing it. The combination of sunshine and chilly evenings is critical for illness prevention.

Potato Field

Seed Pieces

 Potatoes are often cultivated from seed potatoes. Seed pieces or little seed potatoes are small parts of a big tuber. Seed potatoes are available in season from garden retailers and through seed businesses. At least two eyes should be present on every piece of planting material. A stalk will develop from the eyes, which should be left to cure for a few days before planting in the soil. Curing prevents the seed fragments from decaying and reduces the risk of a pathogen infiltrating. Curing is as easy as laying the seed pieces out on paper towels and letting them dry for 3 to 4 days.

Potato Seed

Sowing Rates, Sowing Methods, and Spacing

Based on seed size, the following are the seed requirements for a hectare: 25-30 q/ha for large size, 15-20 q/ha for medium size. 10 to 15 q/ha for small size. Potatoes are mostly sown in two ways:

1. Ridge and Furrow Method: This method is used to create a ridge and furrow pattern. The ridges are formed using this way. The plot’s slope determines the length of the ridges. Irrigation water is not easily accessible to ridges and furrows that are too lengthy. The potato tubers are placed in furrows after they have been sown.

2. Flat Bed Method: This method divides the entire plot into beds of a manageable length and width. Potato tubers are planted at the recommended distance after the shallow furrows are opened. The tubers are covered with the furrows’ original dirt. Earthing should be done once the germination is complete and the plants have reached a height of 10 to 12 cm.


Seed potatoes and pieces can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in early Spring, but keep in mind that frost will destroy the plants. Cover the seed pieces with 7.5 cm (3 inches) of soil and space them 30 cm (12 inches) apart. Straw can be used around the plants instead of soil, removing the need to dig for tubers. However, fresh straw must be added regularly.

Planting Time

Plains Planting Season Early Crop: From the third to the first week of October. The main crop is harvested between the first and third weeks of October.

Late Crop: From the third to the first week of November.

In the Hills: From the third week of February until the second week of April, potatoes are planted in the hills. Planting takes place three times a year in the southern slopes of Ootacamund in the Nilgiris, namely in February, April, and September. Potato is grown throughout the wet and winter seasons in Maharashtra, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh’s plateau regions. Summer and winter crops are cultivated in April-June and October-December, respectively, on the Mysore plateau.


The time it takes for potato tubers to mature varies per variety, but it normally takes approximately 2-3 weeks after the plants have blossomed. When the vines have perished or a frost threatens to kill the plants, all of the tubers should be collected. If the dirt is loose enough, you can dig up the tubers with a fork or your hands. When the earth is dry, it’s easier to harvest. Potatoes are heavy feeders, so fertilizing every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer can help. The time it takes for potato tubers to mature varies depending on the variety, but it is usually 2–3 weeks after the plants have bloomed and should be harvested when the vines have died or before a frost kills the plants. If the earth is soft enough, you can harvest the tubers by gently digging them up with a fork or your hands. When the earth is dry, harvesting is easy. Before storing the tubers, do not wash them.


Value and Applications in Nutrition

1. It is a world-renowned crop. Only as a vegetable is it used in India.

2.  It’s also blended with other veggies on occasion. Chips, halwa, gulab jamun, rasgulla, murabha, kheer, guzia, and barfi are just a few of the dishes made with it.

3. After cooking, potato tubers constitute a major food source in temperate regions. They can be sliced or cut to make potato chips or fries.

4. Potatoes can also be turned into flour, starch, or alcohol.

5. It has anti-scorbutic properties. It is well digested by people with neurotic and hepatic dyspepsia.

6. The leaves are used as an antispasmodic in a persistent cough, giving benefits similar to those of optimal, etc.

Soil Conditions

Potatoes can be grown on a variety of soil types, including sandy loam, silt loam, loam, and clay soil. Potato soil should be friable, properly aerated, deep, and rich in organic materials. Potatoes grow best in well-drained sandy loam and medium loam soils. The texture and structure of the soil have a significant impact on the tuber’s quality. Light soils are recommended because they encourage more consistent soil temperatures and make crop harvesting easier. Potatoes cannot be grown on alkaline or saline soil. They grow in acidic soils (pH 5.0 to 6.5), where scab diseases are less prevalent.

Nutritional Needs and How to Manage Potatoes

During land preparation, 250-500 q/ha of farmyard manure or compost should be applied to soils with low organic matter concentration, especially a fortnight before planting. The potato plant eats a lot of food. It requires 100 to 150-kilogram nitrogen, 80 to 100 kg phosphorous, and 80 to 100 kg potassium per hectare when grown on medium soils. At the time of planting, two-thirds to three-fourths of a pound of nitrogen is applied, along with the full amount of phosphate and potassium. The remaining one-fourth to one-third nitrogen is administered 30 to 35 days after planting, at the time of initial earthing up or when the plants reach a height of 25 to 30 cm, as a top dressing or foliar feeding. When a crop exhibits deficient signs, important micronutrients such as boron, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and molybdenum are sprayed.

Management of Water Resources

Before arriving at the planting site. It is important to remember that sufficient soil moisture is available for successful sprouting. If not, a light pre-irrigation or irrigation right after planting may be applied. The rate of water consumption is modest until 30-35 days after planting, implying that the first irrigation is essentially completed by 30-35 days of planting. When soil moisture appears to be insufficient for sprouting, first irrigation intervals should be lowered. Irrigation is also done as needed by the crop. When it comes to potato irrigation, the furrow approach is widely used.

Diseases and Pests

Early Blight (Alternaria solani)

The infection manifests as necrotic patches with concentric rings on the lower leaves. The fungus can be found in the soil. In the remains of sick plants. Tomato is the collateral host. Disease grows in conditions of high moisture and low temperature.

Measures of Control

(i)Follow crop rotation

 (ii). After harvesting, collect and remove plant debris

(iii) Begin spraying the crop

(iv) Plant early blight tolerant types such as Kufri Naveen, Kufri Sjndhuri, and Kufri Jeevan 30 to 35 days after planting, and repeat at a 15-day interval.

Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans)

The infection manifests as circular or irregular water-soaked areas at the tips or edges of the lower leaves. Around the dots, a white downy fungal growth occurs on the underside of the leaves. Cloudy conditions encourage the disease to spread quickly. In the event of a severe incident, all above-ground portions may rot. Later on, the illness may spread to tubers, causing them to decay.

Measures of Control

(i)Only use disease-free, certified seed tubers before planting.

(ii) Well before disease symptoms show, spray the crop extensively with diathane M-45 (2.0 kg/ha), diathane Z-78 (2.5 kg/ha), or difolatan (2.5 kg/ha). During gloomy weather, spraying activities should be repeated at a 5- to the 6-day interval.

(iii) Dig out tubers once the leaves have dried or been cleansed.

(iv) Plant cultivars that are resistant to late blight, such as Kufri Navaharl.

(v) Excess nitrogen and irrigation should be avoided.

Bacterial Brown Rot or Wilt Disease (Pseudomonas solanacearum)

On damaged plants, dwarfing and a bronze discoloration of the leaflets can be seen. When cutting through diseased stems or tubers, browning of the xylem vessel can be seen, and a yellowish bacterial discharge can be observed when squeezing.

Control Measures

(i)Obtain healthy, disease-free seed tubers for seed tuber planting.

ii) Collect and kill unhealthy plants.

(iii) Prevent rainwater or irrigation water from turning an unhealthy land into a healthy one.

iv) Use a bactericide solution to disinfect the cutting knife whenever contaminated tubers are sliced.

(v) Plant non-host crops such as maize, soybeans, and red top grass in a three-year crop rotation on the field.

(vi) Reduce the use of organic manure (which encourages bacterial activity) while increasing the use of inorganic fertilizers (decrease the activity).

(vii) After a five-millimeter deep cut, soak the seed tubers in 0.02 percent sueptocycine for 30 minutes.

The Potato Wart Disease (Synchytrium endobioticum)

Fungus is to blame. Plants with affected sterns, stolons, and tubers have warty outgrowth protuberances. The roots, on the other hand, are not harmed. The wart is made up of a mass of hyperparasite tissue that has become twisted and multiplied. Once it has become established in a field, it is difficult to control.

Control Measures

(i)Avoid growing potatoes in soil that has been known to cause warts.

(ii) For seed tuber sowing, obtain disease-free seed tubers.

(iii) While soil treatment with 5% formalin is beneficial, it is also highly expensive.

(iv)Grow varieties like Kufri Sherpa, Kufri Jyoti, Kufri Jeevan, and Kufri Muthu, which are wart-tolerant.

Viral Diseases

 Leaf Roll

It’s caused by the potato leafroll virus, also known as potato virus 1, solanum virus 14, or Corium solani Holmes. In nature, viral transmission takes place via infected tubers and an aphid-like insect (Myzus persicae). Plants that have been affected grow smaller, become more erect and slender, and their leaves, particularly the lower ones, are rolled. They have a leathery texture and are thick.

Controlling Viral Diseases in Potatoes

(i)Plant only certified seed tubers

(ii) Use a systemic insecticide like thimet, temik, or furadan in the furrow at a rate of 10 kg per hectare at planting time

(iii) Uproot and kill the afflicted plants, including the entire root system and mother tuber

(iv) To control aphid populations, spray the crop with 0.1 percent metasystox

(v) Haulms should be removed in the first week of January when the aphid population is at its peak.

Purple Top of Potato

Purple coloration and rolling of the basal regions of leaflets of juvenile top leaves are common signs. Plants that have been damaged are stunted and have a lot of axillary branches with aerial tubers. The root system is underdeveloped. Phloem fluorescence is caused by it.

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