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leaving potatoes in vs virus

Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3897
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  80
I was going to hijack the potato thread, but decided to start another one.
I have a few questions regarding spuds and disease.
I've never managed to dig all my potatoes, a  few always remain and sprout again next season. After being rather casual about potato virus' potential problems, I'm now feeling pretty nervous.
I suppose I'll wait till the current batch of missed tiddlers produce, then basically sift out every one!
Potatoes must be really 'bred'. Is it a sort of viral version of inbreeding depression? I'm wondering whether wild/ancient/original types from Latin America are more resistant to virus buildup than more modern varieties?
So once I grow potatoes from seed, can I then replant the tubers indefinitely?
I'm off to do some research of my own, but I'd love to hear other's potato experiences, especially along the lines of "they were in the same place for a few years. Everything is fine/turned to custard'.
                          


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: Bremerton, Washington
I confess I know nothing about potato viruses.  I've never witnessed a problem with it, though I have seen potatoes grown in the same soil for years and years.  That's not to say it couldn't be a problem, but it wasn't where I saw it.

Maybe part of the success was due to the intermixed other species growing with the potatoes.  They were growing accidently in a flower bed!  I think the flowers growing around them included nasturtiums, marigolds, and various wildflowers like california poppy, forget me not,  and bachelor buttons.

It was a sunny hill, never really tended or watered much.  Plenty of natural mulch from each year's plant litter being left behind, and new things just being allowed to sprout through, with a halfhearted effort to pull out the potatoes at the end of each season.  Good thing potatoes are a rather pretty plant!  It was right by our driveway.

I do know that potatoes grown from seed will not breed true to their parents.  Potatoes have a lot of natural genetic variability, and can mutate in many different ways. That's why commercial potatoes are grown from spud pieces... otherwise there'd be no telling what the farmer would get!
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
Well I just made a big post on this to the other thread.... this Is a very serious issue. It is heavily regulated the world over, and not even legal to plant non certified seed in many countries. even just in your back yard. Farmers go to extreme lengths to ensure they do not carry the viruses over. because once they build up you have to go to extreme measures to get rid of them, it also lowers yields as vigor is lost.

  they actually grow out the tubers in a lab in such a way it outgrows the viruses that build up, its simply how potato tubers work. (which is likely why their seeds last 25 plus years, and as crunchy bread said they are rather diverse even in a field of clones) 

   they then take the various plants growing off the tubers and test each one individually. some still carry the viruses despite the effort, the others they take and continue to divide, and grow those out. Those become the first generation seed potatoes, which are then grown out and spread to build up enough to sell enough of that clone of potatoe to farmers etc.

   the people in south america never had these issues because they always grew theirs from the actual seeds. which is not hard at all, you simply start them early like tomatoes and plant them out. then if one variety performs particularly well, you can safely grow from the tubers a few years. Or do some things to ensure your taters are virus free.

    put "certified seed potatoes " into a search engine once... you should find all this info. the entire industry is structured around negating these issues. Within the industry potatoes are sold designating how many generations from a lab they are, and by the time we get them in the store they are usually (not always, but the bulk) are generations 4-6... they cannot be re certified after 6. how long are they safe after that? well im sure there are a thousand factors from what the farmers did, and their soils... to what the store did, to what you did, and the things your soil carries and a 100 different ways those play together... im betting its a big reason they spray those anti spouting things on them also, even if that isnt specified.
Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
I keep hearing the warnings, but I am failing to see the "how & why" when I have examples like Robert Hart, the actual plant living in the wild, and other people like Crunchybread & myself pointing saying, "come again, what now?"
                          


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: Bremerton, Washington
To be fair, when I said my mom grew potatoes on the same hill for years, I'm probably talking about six years or so.  If what Silverseeds says holds true, that could have been right at the tipping point where viruses would have begun to show up soon.  I don't know what may have happened over longer time frames, because that's when we moved away from that house.

Then again, I do not know whether growing them in a diverse, naturalized, organic setting might not have had some protective effect.  Perhaps a live ecosystem somehow helps combat potato viruses.  I'm pretty sure commercial growers are not generally growing them in systems that even vaguely resemble that model.  But again, I really do not know whether there would be any effect.  It's just a vague feeling that anything biodiverse and organic surely must be healthier than any chemically treated monoculture.  I just don't have any information about viruses specifically reacting to those conditions.

As Silverseeds says, it would be a risk.  Maybe with a microscope one could determine virus activity, but otherwise it's a situation where you just wait and hope, and if your gamble doesn't pay off, then you're stuck with viruses in your soil forever, and even your potato-growing neighbors will hate you.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
I keep hearing the warnings, but I am failing to see the "how & why" when I have examples like Robert Hart, the actual plant living in the wild, and other people like Crunchybread & myself pointing saying, "come again, what now?"


study it.... I didnt make it up, the entire potato growing industry works this way, its not even legal to plant non certified seed in many countries. You seem to be implying Im wrong, im not remotely wrong.

how and why?  because the skin builds up the viruses, as does the soil. no way to wash them away, atleast that anyone knows of.

the plant growing in the wild as i said spreads by seeds. as well as tubers. the seeds can live in the soil 25 plus years and are designed so that not all will germinate at first no matter what you do. also where the plant is native they have EXTREME diversity compared to what we grow outside of those areas, even with that the locals always grew them by seeds.  there will be seeds in the soil for a long time, and many will wait for years) you do it however you like, but its pretty much a given it will catch up to you given a long enough time line.  the diversity of the site might negate the advancement but not likely to halt it. we are talking the build up of things all ready present in the wild.

just study the issue folks. Its as big a deal as I am saying. If you intend to use potatoes as a staple, ignoring this wouldnt be to wise. because what your doing will work, that is until it doesnt and you cant grow potatoes on the site for years without instant issues. If your going to ignore me atleast save some actual potatoe seeds, so you could start over in many years after your soil is ok again.

Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
SILVERSEEDS wrote:
study it.... I didnt make it up, the entire potato growing industry works this way, its not even legal to plant non certified seed in many countries. You seem to be implying Im wrong, im not remotely wrong.

how and why?  because the skin builds up the viruses, as does the soil. no way to wash them away, atleast that anyone knows of.

the plant growing in the wild as i said spreads by seeds. as well as tubers. the seeds can live in the soil 25 plus years and are designed so that not all will germinate at first no matter what you do. also where the plant is native they have EXTREME diversity compared to what we grow outside of those areas, even with that the locals always grew them by seeds.  there will be seeds in the soil for a long time, and many will wait for years) you do it however you like, but its pretty much a given it will catch up to you given a long enough time line.  the diversity of the site might negate the advancement but not likely to halt it. we are talking the build up of things all ready present in the wild.

just study the issue folks. Its as big a deal as I am saying. If you intend to use potatoes as a staple, ignoring this wouldnt be to wise. because what your doing will work, that is until it doesnt and you cant grow potatoes on the site for years without instant issues. If your going to ignore me atleast save some actual potatoe seeds, so you could start over in many years after your soil is ok again.




I am not inferring that at all.  What I am questioning is why is this occurring, but this is occurring because of monoculture.  So perhaps the solution isn't to look at what has happened because of the monoculture, but rather, what happened prior to the monoculture system and how it worked then to solve this virus issue.  That's what I am trying to find out.

What happened from the tater going from the polycultural world, to building up virii in a monocultural world. 

Has research been done on the polyculture side to support the virii problem in the monoculture side..  maybe I am not explaining myself well. 


The way it sounds, once a permie property utilizes all the soil for growing taters, and then goes back to the same rotation 10,20, 50, 100 years down the line there could be virii all over the property.. that's the terrifying way it sounds...  and I don't abide that.  There must be a true solution since this is and was a perennial food at one point.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
I am not inferring that at all.  What I am questioning is why is this occurring, but this is occurring because of monoculture.  So perhaps the solution isn't to look at what has happened because of the monoculture, but rather, what happened prior to the monoculture system and how it worked then to solve this virus issue.  That's what I am trying to find out.

What happened from the tater going from the polycultural world, to building up virii in a monocultural world. 

Has research been done on the polyculture side to support the virii problem in the monoculture side..  maybe I am not explaining myself well. 


before mono culture, the answer was, like I said growing new plants from the actual seeds. these things NEVER get a chance to build up like that. this is what they did in south america the entire time.

I personally know of no work that tested if these things still build up in poly cultures, but as I understand it, it wouldnt matter, its all naturally occuring things, that build up in the soil and on the tubers you have together. It appears to have some type of symbiotic relationship like that. atleast as i understood it, Im not sure other plants would mitigate it, but since that implies wider spacing it might somewhat.

there are ways to deal with it. Id have to look them up, because i forget, going from the TPS seeds, is a good enough answer for me. that way i never have to think about it.
Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
SILVERSEEDS wrote:
before mono culture, the answer was, like I said growing new plants from the actual seeds. these things NEVER get a chance to build up like that. this is what they did in south america the entire time.




I want to know before that time.  I want to know how this tater grew and grew happily till suddenly one day someone at one.  The plant reproduces both ways, most likely always has, so how and why did this virus problem occur?  Follow?  I think you and I will not find the answer to this question, at least not easily.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
Mekka Pakanohida wrote:

I want to know before that time.  I want to know how this tater grew and grew happily till suddenly one day someone at one.  The plant reproduces both ways, most likely always has, so how and why did this virus problem occur?  Follow?  I think you and I will not find the answer to this question, at least not easily.


It was never a problem but as always there is my understanding. and lots of plants can spread by tuber or seeds. the seeds last 25 years, and will never germinate all the same year. in their native range there is extreme genetic diversity, multiples wider then what we see in our taters. All the answers are right there....  imo ...... honestly in this case im not sure mono cultures played an impact, though it could easily make it happen faster, it would still happen as I understand it.

theres also a reason the people in south america propagated by seeds instead of tubers. surely one of them realized its clonal from tubers, and you can better carry on good plants. they were great farmers, Ive got little doubt it was tried. They grew it from seeds in the same soil for thousands of years with no problems though. problems only happen when you grow from tubers only....
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
lots of plants have natural ebbs and flows of disease cycles in the wild. My point is potatoes have all the tools to battle that.... in fact most solanums seem to have those disease cycles if left to their own devices.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
Part of the problem may lie in the fact that only a few varieties were brought from the New World.  In the Old World, these few varieties have crossed with very little genetic diversity, hence little lack of vigor and resistance.  Old World farming practices (which "we" adopted in our portion of the New World) favor monoculture, which is an open invitation to natural diseases.

In the Andean region, you can go to a small village market and see 100 varieties of potato (and other tubers) on sale.  In a US market, you may see 3-4 (all derived from the same small gene pool).  Our tunnel vision greatly limits what we can see.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
John Polk wrote:
Part of the problem may lie in the fact that only a few varieties were brought from the New World.  In the Old World, these few varieties have crossed with very little genetic diversity, hence little lack of vigor and resistance.  Old World farming practices (which "we" adopted in our portion of the New World) favor monoculture, which is an open invitation to natural diseases.

In the Andean region, you can go to a small village market and see 100 varieties of potato (and other tubers) on sale.  In a US market, you may see 3-4 (all derived from the same small gene pool).  Our tunnel vision greatly limits what we can see.

  very true.

in fact not only was there a bottleneck, but a bottleneck of a bottleneck, i forget the percentage, but a large chunk of modern taters were derived from luther burbanks russet i think it is, burbank did it for sure. he noticed the seeds in a potatoe field, planted it, got a potatoe that far out yielded any currently known, and now its a cornerstone of many varieties.
Pat R Mann


Joined: Dec 31, 2009
Posts: 21
Location: Seattle, WA
I've harvested potatoes from a site they were grown in for about 6 years. The skin was very scabby, but there was no loss of vigor or quality of the flesh.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
Like fingerprints, no two soils are alike.  In Ireland, potatoes were a staple for many years before the blight took hold.  I do not know, but there also exists the possibility that potato blight does not exist in the Andean soils.  That could be another key factor.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
  late blight is one of many many things in question here.... most of which they carry in their soils as well, including late blight. which travels on the wind..... like probably most of the rest.

  so their soils have all or most of those things... perhaps though.... their are other soil born organisms that keep those in check somewhat that no one has studied yet? that didnt transport on the potatoe as the others did?

  actually peru is starting to have lots of potatoe issues. its being blamed on climate change.... many also apparently  it seems like they are out of practice of saving TPS seeds by the way....

   
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
Im actually going to try and produce true seed this year and see how it goes.


permaculture wiki: www.permies.com/permaculture
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
Here is a Wikipedia quote that pretty well shows that late (potato) blight does/did not exist in the Andes:

The origin of Phytophthora infestans can be traced to a valley in the highlands of central Mexico. The first recorded instances of the disease were in the United States, in Philadelphia and New York City in early 1843. Winds then spread the spores, and in 1845 it was found from Illinois to Nova Scotia, and from Virginia to Ontario. It crossed the Atlantic Ocean with a shipment of seed potatoes for Belgian farmers in 1845

                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
John Polk wrote:
Here is a Wikipedia quote that pretty well shows that late (potato) blight does/did not exist in the Andes:

The origin of Phytophthora infestans can be traced to a valley in the highlands of central Mexico. The first recorded instances of the disease were in the United States, in Philadelphia and New York City in early 1843. Winds then spread the spores, and in 1845 it was found from Illinois to Nova Scotia, and from Virginia to Ontario. It crossed the Atlantic Ocean with a shipment of seed potatoes for Belgian farmers in 1845




well it certainly does now.... also for the record the range of potatoes goes all the way up through mexico, into the americas. Ive got wild potatoes here in new mexico, and they are in utah to..... isolated patches of undesirable ones though outside of south america.


                          


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: Bremerton, Washington
I'm quite curious to learn how potatoes grown from seed will produce.  How close to their parent plants can you expect them to be?  We know there is a lot of mutation to be expected, but does this mean that in 100 russet seeds you'll get 99 russets and one like a purple corkscrew?  Or does it mean you'll get perhaps 99 potatoes that are all 99% like their parent russet plant, but with slight variability in size or color or starch content?

Inquiring minds want to know.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
CrunchyBread wrote:
I'm quite curious to learn how potatoes grown from seed will produce.  How close to their parent plants can you expect them to be?  We know there is a lot of mutation to be expected, but does this mean that in 100 russet seeds you'll get 99 russets and one like a purple corkscrew?  Or does it mean you'll get perhaps 99 potatoes that are all 99% like their parent russet plant, but with slight variability in size or color or starch content?

Inquiring minds want to know.


It depends greatly on the overall general make up. I cant fully answer... but I know from hanging out on tom wagners forum for awhile, that it seems like there are general trends or phenotypes.... for instance I got short season TPS seeds for various colors from him.... hes got hordes of general traits in his genepools, but exact traits wont be known until you grow them.

always desirable though.... for the record, he does both from TPS and from tubers, and he de viruses his own, which takes some work, but can be done.

Ive seen him elaborate on different ways to manage them long term a few times, and he seems to recomend doing both for long term maintenance of your potatoes, both going from TPS, and de virusing the most desirable ones.... he collects the desirable ones, and grows TPS out of those as well.... which gives you closer to a general range of traits as I understand it....
Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
John Polk wrote:
Like fingerprints, no two soils are alike.  In Ireland, potatoes were a staple for many years before the blight took hold.  I do not know, but there also exists the possibility that potato blight does not exist in the Andean soils.  That could be another key factor.



Well C. Sativa prior to this time was utilized as a protector plant against early blight for potatoes, effectively, prior to the 1800's. 

Silverseeds, this is going to possibly open up a can of worms in this topic, but you have been saying potato seed, do you mean "potato seed starters", a.k.a. a baby tater with eyes, or no eyes, just waiting to be planted?  As in something you can buy from Burpee or Walmart.


Rob S...  I am planning to do the same.  I would like to see localized varieties grown here on my property for my wife and I.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
seed potatoes... are potato tubers used for starting plants. really though its more like a bulb I guess...

potato seeds are actual seeds of the potato plants, generally referred to as TPS- true potato seeds.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
This entire disease issue seems quite muddled, with differing opinions resulting from different research.  The C. sativa aspect is interesting.  Formerly, it was a common crop/wild plant in the Andes.  The Incas were a very advanced civilization, and I'm certain that they would have noticed the symbiotic relationship.  Strange that the Andean problem has begun since the elimination of the hemp cropping.

Due to the legal implications of using hemp as a 'nurse crop', I would suggest that a good crop rotation scheme might be the easiest method of controlling the problem.

Hemp is already considered one of the world's most useful plants (fiber, oil, medicinal), but if it were in fact a natural deterrent to a disease that costs $6 billion per year to the world's 3rd most important food crop, I think governments would need to take another look at their Victorian style of laws.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
John Polk wrote:
Due to the legal implications of using hemp as a 'nurse crop', I would suggest that a good crop rotation scheme might be the easiest method of controlling the problem.


if you dont break the disease cycle, in one of the possible ways, that might help... but Im not sure it is an answer..... the virus isnt in the soil alone, the tubers carry it to.... that would likely slow it down though Im sure....
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
  for someone truly interested in this, you might try "tom wagner forum" in a search. hes a potato breeder, who is likely to be able to give much more clarity on these subjects, although Im not convinced anyone fully understand this issue.
Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
John Polk wrote:
This entire disease issue seems quite muddled, with differing opinions resulting from different research.  The C. sativa aspect is interesting.  Formerly, it was a common crop/wild plant in the Andes.  The Incas were a very advanced civilization, and I'm certain that they would have noticed the symbiotic relationship.  Strange that the Andean problem has begun since the elimination of the hemp cropping.

Due to the legal implications of using hemp as a 'nurse crop', I would suggest that a good crop rotation scheme might be the easiest method of controlling the problem.

Hemp is already considered one of the world's most useful plants (fiber, oil, medicinal), but if it were in fact a natural deterrent to a disease that costs $6 billion per year to the world's 3rd most important food crop, I think governments would need to take another look at their Victorian style of laws.



You gotta understand why it was made illegal in the first place and why it remains so.

First you had W.R. Hearst standing to loose millions of dollars in timber, the same timber we now subsidize.  He was about to loose this money because of a new machine to cheaply remove fibers from the plant for production.  So, he called up his newspapers and made false stories to get it made illegal.

So after he got his way through lies, and the family money got protected the smear campaign continued until WW2, just after Mayor Laguardia of NYC had a report done showing it is less harmful then alcohol.  During WW2, people were allowed to grow it again for ropes and other things. 

Now we have a fairly large world wide blackmarket for it, and a large commodities market for the plant.  Many people wish it to remain illegal still buying into the propaganda because they know no other way.  Propaganda and marketing is just simply that powerful.  Yet, the growers, they too want to see it remain quasi-legal / illegal.  After all, a plant that goes for $10,000US / pound is a lot more profitable then current market legal levels which are $900US / pound, or less.  All you gotta do is follow the money.

So now we have a problem world wide.  Some people want to enforce the propaganda of it being a harmful plant, others want to use it for a variety of solutions to problems, some of which we discussed here, others remotely touched upon. 
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
The chemical industry was also instrumental in aiding Hearst in his efforts.  The chemical camp was not thrilled with an oil producing plant that any farmer could grow like "weeds".
During WWII, the government spent millions to develop strains of the plant with reduced levels of THC, as they needed millions of yards of hemp rope to keep the Navy functioning.  Today's farmers have merely "reverse engineered" the government's research.
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3897
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  80
A LOT of cannabis sativa is grown (and smoked) in NZ.
The government did some  hemp trials last decade, no idea what became of that...
I won't be planting dope, but I will make sure all my volunteer spuds come out this year and I'm keen to have a go at growing TPS.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6583
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
An interesting question:  Does the virus live on, or in the tuber?
Many tomato and pepper growers soak their seeds in rubbing alcohol prior to planting in order to kill pathogens.  I do not use rubbing alcohol, as it is a manufactured chemical (that oxidizes into acetone).  Instead, I buy a cheap Vodka for the same purpose.  If the virus lives on the tuber, rather than within the tuber, a quick dip in Vodka prior to planting might be a means of breaking the cycle.  Just a thought.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
John Polk wrote:
An interesting question:  Does the virus live on, or in the tuber?
Many tomato and pepper growers soak their seeds in rubbing alcohol prior to planting in order to kill pathogens.  I do not use rubbing alcohol, as it is a manufactured chemical (that oxidizes into acetone).  Instead, I buy a cheap Vodka for the same purpose.  If the virus lives on the tuber, rather than within the tuber, a quick dip in Vodka prior to planting might be a means of breaking the cycle.  Just a thought.



My understanding was it is on, not in. but not positive. I would of guessed someone would try that or something similar, as it would of been cheaper then culturing it in a lab. but then again perhaps its just good business for that type of lab. or Perhaps by the time you kill it, the potatoe dies to? that would be a great question for Tom wagner I guess.

 
 
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