WHAT ARE SEED POTATOES?
Potatoes grow from eyes, pieces of tuber used to clone the parent
plant. Each seed potato can be a small whole potato or a part of a
potato but it must have at least one eye to produce the new growth.
Seed potatoes are grown under a regulated certification program to
make sure that they are as disease-free as possible.
WHERE ARE SEED POTATOES PRODUCED IN BC?
Seed potatoes are grown in the Lower Mainland, the Kootenay
region, the Okanagan Valley and on Vancouver Island.
HOW MANY SEED POTATOES DO WE PRODUCE?
There are approximately 800 hectares of seed potatoes grown in BC
producing 17,000 tonnes of seed potato.
HOW ARE SEED POTATOES PRODUCED?
Seed pieces are sown into carefully prepared soil with the
appropriate amount of fertilizer. Pest control and hilling
operations are carried out by the grower, and irrigation is supplied
to the crop as necessary. Fields must be inspected to ensure that
they meet certification standards. The crop is harvested in the fall
and stored in special buildings that maintain seed quality during
the winter. Inspectors examine the crop going in and coming out of
storage, and issue a phytosanitary certificate to the grower if the
crop meets certain standards. This certificate enables growers to
ship their product across the border into the U.S.
WHAT DOES A SEED POTATO LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Seed potatoes are a small potato or a larger potato cut into
pieces. While cut seed is more widely used, whole seed is less
sensitive to tuber decay. Cut pieces weigh about 56g. Consumers can
buy seed potato for their home gardens, but the majority of seed
potatoes are bought by growers of fresh market and processing
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SEED POTATO LEAVES THE FARM?
The seed is removed from storage in the spring and loaded into
large bulk trucks that take the seed to its intended markets in
western Canada and the Pacific northwest. BC exports 2/3 of its crop
of seed potatoes to the U.S.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE SEED POTATO PRODUCER FACE?
Because potatoes grown in most places in BC can become infected
with virus diseases, special precautions have to be taken. The best
way to avoid certain viruses and other diseases is to use special
potato seed. Seed growers use tissue culture plantlets derived from
mother tubers that have been tested and found to be free of
diseases. This is the start of the seed multiplication process that
eventually results in the availability of certified seed for regular
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING SEED POTATOES?
- Potato grower
- Field worker
- Field inspector
- Agri-business suppliers
Interesting Fact About Seed Potatoes:
Potatoes grow well in almost every part of this country, even
up to and within the Arctic Circle.
- Contacts and other resources:
BCMAL - Field Vegetable Information
- BC Certified Seed Potato Growers' Association
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