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Potato Rot and Scab

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Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/1/2015, 7:32 pm

I know that scab isn't too much of a problem, although I hate peeling potatoes or carrots!  Today's Purple Viking was a victim.

However, I've already found two or three badly rotted potatoes.  The one I pulled today was a good-sized one, but it had a mushy, wet, golden-yellow center.  

I don't use fresh manure in my MM, other than rabbit or llama.  I didn't rotate crops this year, and I had a few spuds go bad last season.  

Suggestions?  The cost of buying/building more 12" beds and filling them with mostly MM for next season is daunting.  

Could I move my asparagus bed to one of the potato beds without jeopardizing it? Or use a potato bed for raspberries or blackberries?  

Also:  As I gain experience growing potatoes, I have more questions.  Should I go ahead and harvest early potatoes around now (planted in early May), and the mid-to-late season ones after they die down?

Also, I'm wondering how to "cure" potatoes prior to storage.  I've recently learned that early potatoes don't store well.
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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  Turan on 8/1/2015, 10:06 pm

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3106.html

I have seen potatoes turn to mush in the ground, very disheartening.  My understanding is too much nitrogen, too much water, and the bacteria present in the soil, either from previous years or brought in on the seed used.  Only thing I know to do is rigorous cleanup, rotate crops, (the link says it does not linger in the soil more than a year if good clean up is followed) and watch that you are not over feeding with high nitrogen composts.  Same goes for scab.

Maybe you need to switch to another system for growing spuds?  Like a big grow bag? Each year change the MM used putting the used in non nightshade beds. On further thought....  that MM needs to be lower nitrogen, can you work out a roation between corn and potatoes?

I have not looked yet what resides deep in my potato bed.  I am worrying because the plants are so tall.

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/1/2015, 10:09 pm

Turan,

Could you describe "rigorous cleanup?"
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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  Turan on 8/1/2015, 10:27 pm

Burn all the old plant material.  If I find a rotten potato when digging them I also get rid of the soil right around it.  Do not put potato anything in your compost, no peelings etc from cooking.

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/2/2015, 12:10 pm

Thanks, Turan.

How about I just put it in the trash?  Burning here is not advisable, perhaps not even allowed, right now.

If we have a cold winter, will the culprit bacteria be killed off?
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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  Turan on 8/2/2015, 12:33 pm

I am sure the trash is fine, just not my reality.  I would not put it in a municipal composting system either.  I know those usually get really super hot from all their mass, but still it would not feel good to have infected a city of gardens.
From reading the link my impression is that the bacteria starves out over a year of no nightshade plant material to feed on.  A cold winter probably slows, it seems to help us with lots of diseases, but is not a surety.  From your opening post is appears you had this last year and it survived your clean up last fall and your winter to infect plants even more this growing season.  So we can safely assume at least in your case the winters are not cold enough.

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/2/2015, 12:49 pm

If I can't burn it and shouldn't trash it, what then?  I suppose I could dump it in the wilderness somewhere.  

Winter 2012, before I began planting potatoes, was quite cold.  2013, quite a bit warmer, and 2014, warmer still.  Whether the trend will continue is uncertain.  

Is only the soil infected?  Or the wooden raised beds, as well?  I wondered here about this a year or so ago.
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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  Turan on 8/2/2015, 1:10 pm

You know more about trash pick up than I do.  I assume that you have an option to put potato stuff with cans and the like where it won't be composted. 

"In contrast, E. c. atroseptica is associated mostly with potatoes. These bacteria do not survive well in soil for more than one year, unless they are contained within diseased tubers or other potato plant debris. Blackleg is usually caused by E. c. atroseptica carried on contaminated seed tubers. Most lots of seed tubers are contaminated to some degree, but the bacteria are usually dormant and do not cause disease unless environmental conditions are favorable."
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3106.html

So, wood of beds is probably fine.  It seems like just cleaning up the potato debris and rotating crops for a year is all. 

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/2/2015, 1:44 pm

That's very helpful, Turan, and thanks!

I'll look into that option, although around here, we place empty cans, cardboard, newspapers, etc. in the recycle bin, glass in another, yard waste in still another, and miscellaneous in the trash bin.  I think I'll need to find out what happens that the latter category, which includes used cat litter.

Meanwhile, should I make a preemptive strike and pull all the potatoes now?  Or at least check each one as best I can and pull the rotted ones?
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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  Turan on 8/2/2015, 3:03 pm

"Harvest tubers only after the vines are completely dead to ensure skin maturity. Low spots in the field should be left unharvested if significant waterlogging has occurred.

Take all precautions to minimize cuts and bruises when harvesting and handling tubers.

Hold newly harvested potatoes at 55-60 F with 90-95% relative humidity for the first 1-2 weeks to promote wound healing. After this curing period, lower the temperature of table stock to 38-40 F for long-term storage. Never wash tubers prior to storage."

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3106.html

In light of this I would wait until they die back. Of course if you harvest all now as new potatoes you could blanch and freeze the good ones. Maybe it would be useful to then clean the bed and solarize it the rest of the summer? Your conclusions are as good as mine.

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  sanderson on 8/3/2015, 2:49 am

Donna, Use the garbage can if you don't want to put them in the green waste.

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  camprn on 8/3/2015, 7:11 am

What did they foliage look like when the plant was still alive ?

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/3/2015, 12:05 pm

Camp,

Actually, the foliage is still green on all plants, although many of the blossoms appear to have been nipped off.  The plants do seem to be beginning to dry out just a bit and to have stopped growing.  The ones you see leaning over are mainly the result of my digging around to explore.

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  camprn on 8/4/2015, 8:17 pm

Well by golly those look great. I think, perhaps, you may have found one of the seed potatoes that was rotted. I have done that before. The reason I think this is because your plants are thriving, not rotting... But, time will truly tell.

I have been taking a few potatoes here and there, but I am waiting until the foliage fully matures and begins to die back. That is the signal of when the potatoes are done.

Tips for storage.
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/node/970

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Re: Potato Rot and Scab

Post  donnainzone5 on 8/4/2015, 9:53 pm

Thanks a million, Camp!

Now, I suppose, the issue is to find a storage place with appropriate temps and humidity.

Here in Central Oregon, humidity tends to be low.  My low temp today was 55, and the high, 88.  Do you think I could keep the mature spuds in the fridge half the time, and the other half at night outdoors?  Now that I think about it, though, spuds shouldn't be stored in the fridge!

During the winter, outside temps can range from 60s to -20F, occasionally lower. My greenhouse may be a resource.  We have a great deal of lava rock just beneath the soil here, so I don't know how feasible a root cellar might be.  

I hate to bother you, but I have a dilemma here, between potatoes, carrots, etc.  I do trust your research and judgment.
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