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  • Norfolk Farms

Start your 2023 season with these tips for managing potato seed

Updated: May 10, 2023

No two growing seasons are the same. Disease pressure and weather keep you on your toes

David Jefferson
David Jefferson, Southwest Ontario Horticulture Specialist with Syngenta Canada

A good crop needs a strong foundation. The base of a potato crop is the land, preparation, and seed.

Key factors to consider while deciding whether to treat seed are: what diseases are on the seed; the age of the seed; if there are physical imperfections that may cause issues; the variety characteristics; and finally if the seed will be cut.

Management practices to consider

When seed is cut, wound healing, or suberization, is a natural process that restores the seed’s protective outer layer. Suberization is influenced by temperature, humidity, and availability of oxygen. The first 48 hours of wound healing are important.

You can encourage suberization in your seed by calibrating and sharpening knives for a smooth surface to promote healing. Ensure you use clean water and disinfect equipment periodically to reduce the risk of spreading seed-borne pathogens.

While humidity is one of the requirements for suberization, the presence of free moisture can also impede wound healing. This becomes increasingly important if a liquid seed treatment is used.

There are a few strategies to improve suberization. You can ensure your liquid seed treatment slurry volume is accurate, avoid treating in high humidity environments, control condensation, and use an inert dust after liquid application.

Soil conditions are also a factor. The ideal soil temperature for planting potatoes is 10-12ºC. Syngenta recommends the seed temperature be as close to the soil temperature as possible to avoid sweating or condensation.

Soil drainage matters too. Well drained sandy soils provide potato seed pieces the oxygen needed to encourage suberization. Because of this, when soil conditions permit, a cut-treat-plant approach works best for the sandy soils of Norfolk County.

Sometimes factors such as weather or operational issues mean you need to store treated cut seed. Seed treated immediately after cutting can be stored at a temperature of 10-11ºC as long as good air movement is maintained through every part of the pile.

Take your farm into consideration

There are a lot of factors that come into play. The best course of action is always the one that takes into consideration your seed, operations, and the environment.

For more tips and best management practices, visit

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