What Are Seed Potatoes? All You Need to Know

Who doesn’t like potatoes? Nobody, that’s who. Whether you like them mashed, fried, frittered, steamed, roasted, in salads, or as a component of any dish of your choice, they are a firm favorite for many. As such, potatoes are among the most valuable crops to have in your home garden or farm, and these tasty, nutritious tubers are widespread across the United States and beyond.

For those hoping to grow their own crop of potatoes, there are two options: planting regular potatoes or seed potatoes. Don’t know the difference? No problem. You’ve come to the right place. In this piece, we’ll be delving into the world of seed potatoes, highlighting the differences between them and regular potatoes and why, if at all, you might want to consider them for your farm or garden.

Let’s dive right in.

What are Seed Potatoes?

What Are Seed Potatoes?

While most people will assume that all potatoes are alike, there is a world of difference when it comes to the type of potatoes you want to plant. Seed potatoes are not really seeds’ as we understand them. Potatoes are tubers, as the potato plant uses them to store energy that it will use to regrow in its next season. Each spring, potatoes will sprout new growths from points we refer to as its eyes.

Now, while the regular potatoes you might buy at your local grocery store will begin sprouting when left out long enough, it’s not typically recommended. You can use regular potatoes in your garden, and they will sprout and grow, but the results might not be the best they can be.

Seed potatoes are reared explicitly to start new crops. They are not true potato seeds (TPS) but clones of their mother plants that can be planted whole or in sections to produce crops similar to the parent breed.

USDA-certified seed potatoes are primarily grown in ideal conditions that optimize their propagation success rates, which you will want as a farmer. These crops are not sprayed with chemicals or sprout inhibitors, unlike most regular, store-bought potatoes, which are treated thus so that they have longer shelf lives. They are cultivated to be disease-free and as viable as possible.

Seed vs. Regular Potatoes

What Are Seed Potatoes?

To help you figure out what will work best for you as a grower, let’s make a comparison of the pros and cons of the two types of potato you might wish to grow. Keep in mind that this general overview covers all the various breeds or types of potatoes you might be considering.

Regular Potato Pros

  • They will keep in storage for long periods as they are treated to enhance their longevity without sprouting or otherwise going bad.
  • In comparison with seed potatoes, they are cheaper by the pound.
  • You can find them readily available at most grocery stores at any time of the year.

Regular Potato Cons

  • Growers might have difficulty getting them to sprout and grow optimally as they are treated with sprout-inhibitors.
  • Many regular potato producers spray their crops with chemicals and pesticides, which might harm humans and affect their ability to act as viable planting specimens.
  • Because they are not optimized for breeding purposes, they might carry pests or diseases that might transfer to your farm or garden should they be used as seed.

Seed Potato Pros

  • Plants are not sprayed with pesticides and chemicals that might leech into the tubers and affect their growth and health.
  • They are not treated with sprout-inhibitors, allowing them to produce an optimal number of shoots for propagation and grow with vigor.
  • They are specifically bred to be pest and disease-free, ensuring that they do not transfer harmful agents to their growths or infect the farmed area.
  • Seed potatoes can be specifically selected to grow best in your particular region, which is an option you might not have with regular potatoes, which might have been developed in a completely different environment from your own.

Seed Potato Cons

  • You can expect to pay more for seed potatoes per pound due to their intensive production systems and inputs.
  • You might have trouble locating seed potatoes as they are not typically stocked in local stores. You might need to wait for them to be shipped if you order them from commercial seed potato producers.

What Are Seed Potatoes?: Final Thoughts

While regular potatoes might do just fine for hobby growers, you will be much better off investing in seed potatoes for the best results. The last thing you would want is to spend time and effort planting regular potatoes that might produce sub-par results. You will also be better protected from potential pests, diseases, and otherwise harmful agents. In the final analysis, seed potatoes are the better option for most growing purposes.