Irish potatoes grow well in areas that receive regular rainfall and have a cool climate, with temperatures ranging from 10 to 23.
Irish potatoes grow best in areas which receive 900-1400mm of rainfall per annum. The major growing areas include Kabale, Kisoro, Nebbi, Kasese, Mubende-including Kassanda, Mbale, Kapchorwa and areas around Mount Rwenzori.
Irish potatoes grow in such areas because of the low temperatures that prevail there. Irish potatoes do best in a loose, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Poorly drained soils often cause poor stands and low yields. Heavy soils can cause tubers to be small and rough.
- Choose land with well drained sandy or loamy soil. nClear the bush and plough the land to soften it.
- Dig for the second time after two weeks and make ridges. Note that adequate tilling and drainage are essential so as to increase the oxygen supply in the soil, which is a vital ingredient for Irish potato growth. Irish potatoes grow best on raised beds. This can be done in two ways; during initial land preparation or immediately after planting. Adoption of raised beds leads to improvements in soil moisture, temperature, adequate aeration and drainage.
- Avoid planting in water logged areas, especially since it will lead to the seeds rotting.
Application of fertilisers
Irish potatoes need adequate fertilisers in the early season apply most of the fertiliser just before planting.
The fertiliser should not touch the seed piece to avoid rotting. To apply the fertiliser, flatten the beds so they are six to eight inches high and 10 to 12 inches wide, then drop in the fertilisers.
Make ridges of 15-30cm (six inches -12 inches) high, spaced 2ft (60cm) apart. Plant sprouted big-size healthy tubers spaced at 30cm in rows, 5-7.5cm deep for big size tubers and small size tubers for smaller size tuber yield.
In case of single rows, leave 2ft (60cm) to 3 ft (90cm) apart and incase of double rows, leave a space of 6ft (180 cm) to the next row.
Weed control reduces yield loss due to competition for moisture, nutrients and light and at the same time act as alternate host for pests and diseases. For this reason, weed when the crop is about 10cm high and second weeding at 20 – 25cm high.
Early weeding is preferred to reduce contact between plants to avoid spread of viruses.
Tips by Sophie Chemusto, an Irish farmer