• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Historic note
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Foreword
 Table of Contents
 Introduction
 Economic importance
 Areas of production
 Environmental factors affecting...
 Potato soils
 Varieties
 Source and quality of seed
 Preparing the land
 Fertilizers
 Preparing seed for planting
 Planting
 Cultivation
 Harvesting
 Spraying and dusting
 Grading and packing
 Marketing
 Acknowledgement
 Literature cited






Title: Potato growing in Florida
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027129/00001
 Material Information
Title: Potato growing in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 48 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Fifield, W. M ( Willard Merwin ), 1908-
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1936
 Subjects
Subject: Potatoes -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 47-48.
Statement of Responsibility: by W.M. Fifield.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027129
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000924373
oclc - 18212378
notis - AEN4991

Table of Contents
    Historic note
        Historic note
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Front Matter
        Page 2
    Foreword
        Page 3
    Table of Contents
        Pgae 4
    Introduction
        Page 5
    Economic importance
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Areas of production
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Environmental factors affecting potato production
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Potato soils
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Varieties
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Source and quality of seed
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Preparing the land
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Fertilizers
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Preparing seed for planting
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
    Planting
        Page 36
        Page 37
    Cultivation
        Page 38
    Harvesting
        Page 41
        Page 42
    Spraying and dusting
        Page 39
        Page 40
    Grading and packing
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Marketing
        Page 45
    Acknowledgement
        Page 46
    Literature cited
        Page 47
        Page 48
Full Text





HISTORIC NOTE



The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida






Bulletin 295 April, 1936


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
WILMON NEWELL, Director





POTATO GROWING


IN FLORIDA


By W. M. FIFIELD




















Fig. 1.-Two-row digger of the power take-off type, operating in a potato
field near Homestead

Bulletins will be sent free to Florida residents upon application to
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA









EXECUTIVE STAFF BOARD OF CONTROL
John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., Presi 'ent of Geo. H. Baldwin, Chairman, Jacksonville
the University Oliver J. Semmes. Pensacola
Wilmon Newell, D.Sc., Director Harry C. Duncan, Tavares
H. Harold Hume, M.S., Asst. Dir., Research Thomas W. Bryant, Lakeland
Harold Mowry, M.S.A., Asst. Dir., Adm. J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor
Jefferson Thomas, Assistant Editor
Clyde Beale, A.B.J., Assistant Editor BRANCH STATIONS
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian
Ruby Newhall, Administrative Manager NORTH FLORIDA STATION, QUINCY
K. H. Graham, Business Manager
Rachel McQuarrie, Accountant L. O. Gratz, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist in
Charge
R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
MAIN STATION, GAINESVILLE J. D. Warner, M.S., Agronomist
Jesse Reeves, Farm Superintendent
AGRONOMY CITRUS STATION, LAKE ALFRED
W. E. Stokes. M.S., Agronomist**
W. A. Leukel, Ph.D., Agronomist A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Horticulturist in Charge
G. E. Ritchey, M.S.A., Associate* John H. Jefferies, Superintendent
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Associate W. A. Kuntz, A.M., Assoc. Plant Pathologist
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate B. R. Fudge, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
John P. Camp, M.S., Assistant W. L. Thompson, B.S., Asst. Entomologist
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY EVERGLADES STATION, BELLE GLADE
A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., Animal Husbandman** A. Daane, Ph.D., Agronomist in Charge
R. B. Decker, Ph.D., Dairy Husbandman R. N. Lobdell, M.S., EntomoIogist
W. M. Nea. Ph.D., Asso. in An, Nutrition F.D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agronomist
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian Thomas Bregger, Ph.D., Sugarcane Physiologist
M. W. Emmel, D.V.M., Veterinarian G. R. Townsend, Ph.D., Assistant Plant
N. R. Mehrhof, M.Agr., Poultry Husbandman Pathologist
W. W. Henley, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.* J. R. Neller, Ph.D., Biochemist
W. G. Kirk, Pb.D., Asst. An. Husbandman R. W. Kidder, BS., Assistant Animal
R. M. Crown, M.S.A., Asst. An. Husbandman Husbandman
P. T. Dix Arnold, B.S.A., Assistant Dairy Ross E. Robertson, B.S., Assistant Chemist
Husbandman B. S. Clayton, B.S.C.E., Drainage Engineer*
L. L. Rusoff, M.S., Laboratory Assistant SUB-TROPICAL STATION, HOMESTEAD
Jeanette Shaw, M.S., Laboratory Technician
H. S. Wolfe, Ph.D., Horticulturist in Charge
CHEMISTRY AND SOILS W. M. Fifleld, M.S., Asst. Horticulturist
R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Chemist** Geo. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Associate Plant
R. M. Barnette, Ph.D., Chemist Pathologist
C. E. Bell, Ph.D., Associate W. CENTRAL FLA. STA., BROOKSVILLE
R. B. French, Ph.D., Associate
H. W. Winsor, B.S.A., Assistant W. F. Ward, M.S.A., Aast. An. Husbandman
ECONOMICS. AGRICULTURAL in charge
C. V. Noble, Ph.D., Agricultural Economist**
Bruce McKinley, A.B., B.S.A., Associate FIELD STATIONS
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associate
A. H. Spurlock, M.S.A., Assistant Leesburg
ECONOMICS, HOME M. N. Walker, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist in
Charge
Ouida Davis Abbott, Ph.D., Specialist** W. B. Shippy, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
C. F. Ahmann. Ph.D., Physiologist K. W. Loucks, M.S., Asst. Plant Pathologist
ENTOMOLOGY J. W. Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Entomologist
ENTOMOLOGY
J. R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist" Plant City
A. N. Tssot, Ph.D., Associate A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant Cocoa
HORTICULTURE A. S. Rhoads, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Horticulturist** Hastings
G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A., Horticulturist and A, H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
Associate Head of Department
A. L. Stahl, Ph.D., Associate Monticello
F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Truck Horticulturist G. B. Fairchild, M.S., Asst. Entomologist***
R. J. Wilmot, M.S.A., Specialist, Fumigation
Research Bradenton
R. D. Dickey, B.S.A., Assistant Horticulturist David G. Kelbert, Asst. Plant Pathologist
PLANT PATHOLOGY C. C. Goff, M.S., Assistant Entomologist
W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist** Sanford
George F. Weber, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist E. R. Purvis, Ph.D., Assistant Chemist,
R. K. Voorhees, M.S., Assistant*** Celery Investigations
Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist Lak
Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Assistant Botanist Lakeland
Stacy 0. Hawkins, M.A., Assistant Plant E. S. Ellison, Ph.D., Meteorologist*
Pathologist B. H. Moore, A.B., Asst. Meteorologist*
SPECTROGRAPHIC LABORATORY In cooperation with U.S.D.A.
L. W. Gaddum, Ph.D., Biochemist ** Head of Department.
L. H. Rogers, M.A., Spectroscopic Analyst *** On leave.























































Fig. 2.-Typical tubers of the Bliss Triumph (above) and Spaulding Rose
No. 4 varieties grown in Florida.















CONTENTS
Page

Introduction ....--........................--- .........---------- .. 5

Economic Importance ...... ..... --------------......---.....--.......-......... 6 ----

Areas of Production.....----.. .......-. ....- ... .. ....... 8

Environmental Factors Affecting Potato Production ... .............. .... 1--

Potato Soils............ .............. ...--.-....-...-- -....... 16

Varieties-........ -- --------- -----------------........- ------ ..... 20

Source and Quality of Seed....-..--...... --....---.--....-- .... 24

Preparing the Land--........---..... ------.... --......... -.....-- -........ 26

Fertilizers ................- .... .....- ------..... -----.. 29

Preparing Seed for Planting---....--........- ---------......33

Planting ........ ......-----...... ---------- ----.. ----- .....36

Cultivation ......- --------- ---........... ........................... 38

Spraying and Dusting ......... ..... --.....---------------..- ....... 39

H harvesting ....... ..... ------ ..... ...... ...... .... .......... .... 41

Grading and Packing .............--................... ---..--- 43

Marketing .............. ..................... ..... ............. 45

Acknowledgm ents ... ................................................. 46

Literature Cited ....-- --. ................................ 47







POTATO GROWING IN FLORIDA

By W. M. FIFIELD

INTRODUCTION
The "Irish" or "white" potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a
member of the large Solanaceae family to which also belong
the tomato, pepper, eggplant, tobacco, black nightshade, petunia,
Jerusalem cherry, belladonna, bittersweet and many others.
This relationship is significant to the farmer because several
insects and diseases of the potato are known to be carried by
these other species, which are often sources of infection for
commercial potato fields. All members of the Solanaceae family
contain "solanine," a mild poison which contributes a part of
the bitter taste to uncooked potato tubers. According to Gortner
(18)1 sunburned potatoes contain an increased amount of solan-
ine, particularly in the parings.
Unlike most plants, the potato has both aerial and under-
ground stems. The leaves on the main underground stem are
small and scalelike, and in their axils the lateral stems or
stolonss" arise. These have a typical stem structure, being
more or less fleshy. Clark (8) found that while there is much
variation in stolon length within the variety, and in the individ-
ual plant, there is a fairly well defined relationship between
stolon length and variety. In other words, some varieties have
longer stolons than others. The tuber itself is a swelling which
arises at the tip of the stolon. The initiation of this swelling
is known as tuberization. Tuberization normally occurs about
the time the first flower buds are formed, usually a few weeks
after the plants appear above ground.
The potato plant rarely produces true seed in Florida. Many
varieties will not even flower abundantly. Since true potato
seed is not used for propagation except in experimental and
plant breeding work, the failure of plants to set seed in Florida
need not concern the grower. It is thought that this failure is
due to unfavorable light and temperature conditions during the)
growing season.
The tubers, or potatoes proper, are used for all commercial
plantings. This practice is so universal that the tuber itself is
called the "seed," or "seed potato," and hereafter in this bulletin
the term "seed" will be used in reference to the tubers used for:
planting.
1 Figures in parentheses (Italic) refer to "Literature Cited", page 47.






6 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE
Florida's potato industry is important from an early market
standpoint. Potatoes are grown as a truck crop and shipped
to Northern markets during winter and spring months, catering
to a trade quite different from that supplied by the areas of
heavy, late-crop production in the North and West. Based
upon total United States production (Table 1), Florida's crop
ranked 25th in 1934, 34th in 1935, and 30th over the five-year
period from 1928 through 1932. Due to the high cost of pro-
duction in this state, ranging anywhere from $80 to $160 per
acre, with resultant yields seldom over 300 bushels per acre and
more frequently around 125 bushels in commercial fields, Flor-
ida cannot hope to compete with Northern and Western areas
in the production of potatoes for commercial storage, starch
manufacture, and similar uses demanding a low priced product.
The average yield data in Table 1 indicate to some extent the
rather large differences between Florida's yields and those of
Maine, Idaho, and California. There is less difference in average
yields between Florida and many of the other leading potato
states. According to Stuart (36), however, too great importance
should not be attached to the relative yields per acre in the
various states. In the Western areas, for instance, this is very
largely influenced by the percent of acreage under irrigation.
He states that in Colorado where a large acreage is grown under
dry land conditions, the yields may vary from 50 to 150 bushels
per acre. The same seed stock, under average conditions, would
produce from 300 to 400 bushels on irrigated land. In fact,
yields of over 500 bushels per acre have been obtained frequently
on rather large acreages, both in Colorado and elsewhere.
Yields as high as 500 bushels per acre have never been re-
corded in Florida, and since many of these other areas require
less fertilizer and other expensive items, profitable production
in Florida and most of the other early producing states depends
largely upon the demand for new potatoes at relatively high
prices. Size and condition of the stored crop, buying power
of the public, supply of new potatoes produced in competing
states and foreign countries, and several other related factors
affect the prices received by the Florida grower.
From the average yield data of Table 1 it will be noted that
Florida holds a favorable rank among the states competing in.
early production.







Potato Growing in Florida 7

TABLE 1.-POTATO YIELD AND PRODUCTION STATISTICS, BY STATES, FOR THE
YEARS 1934 AND 1935, WITH COMPARISONS.*
Yield per Acre j Production
State and Group Average ( Average
e an p 1923-32 1934 1935 1928-32 1934 1935
Bu. Bu. Bu. 1,000 bu. 1,000 bu. 1,000 bu.
Surplus late potato
States
Maine............................ 258 325 240 44,078 55,2501 38,640
New York.................... 120 155 110 25,904 32,5501 21,450
Pennsylvania ............. 112 170 114 22,698 34,000 22,572
Michigan................... 100 128 95 23,072 34,304 24,985
Wisconsin .................... 100 120 82 23,385 31,320 20,746
Minnesota.................... 93 70 85 29,620 23,380 28,390
North Dakota............. 76 45 100 8,710 5,940 13,500
South Dakota............. 77 30 68 4,177 1,290 3,400
Nebraska ................... 80 30 69 9,159 3,450 8,694
Montana ........ .......... 102 70 85 2,027 1,610 1,955
Idaho ............................ 200 185 200 20,610 19,610 17,800
Wyoming................. 102 40 90 2,376 1,000 2,430
Colorado- .................... 149 75 180 14,083 5,700 15,120
Utah.............................. 153 80 150 2,082 1,040 2,040
Nevada .................... 142 105 150 466 210 450
Washington .............. 165 162 165 7,468 7,290 6,270
Oregon........................ 117 130 130 4,805 5,7201 4,810
California ............... 185 210 230 7,152 8,6101 10,350
Other late potato States
New Hampshire ........ 142 185 120 1,346 1,850 1,200
Vermont ..................... 134 170 115 2,252 2,720 1,840
Massachusetts ............ 124 160 110 1,572 2,560 1,760
Rhode Island ......... 139 180 175 295 720 735
Connecticut........... 132 175 132 1,698 2,625 1,980
West Virginia ......... 94 78 86 3,484 3,120 2,924
Ohio.....................-... 96 105 106 10,709 11,445 12,826
Indiana ........................ 90 100 80 4,987 6,200 5,280
Illinois ........................ 87 52 81 4,511 2,704 4,050
Iowa........................-- 90 66 75 6,992 5,280 6,300
New Mexico ............... 69 70 70 369 490 490
Arizona...................... 72 60 75 234 180 150
Intermediate potato
States
New Jersey.................. 149 181 195 7,031 9,050 9,750
Delaware............... 86 120 100 414 720 500
Maryland -................ 102 99 95 3,339 3,267 3,135
Virginia................ 126 133 129 14,447 13,433 11,352
Kentucky ............... 84 70 86 4,389 4,480 5,762
Missouri ...................... 90 30 78 5,207 1,380 4,212
Kansas.................... I 100 40 75 5,006 1,480 2,625
Early potato States
North Carolina .......... 98 116 110 7,573 10,672 9,130
South Carolina........... 121 125 107 2,731 2,625 1,926
Georgia ..-..................... 64 68 65 1,001 1,360 1,365
Florida .................. 105 130 88 2,891 3,250 2,288
Tennessee .................... 72 72 78 3,297 4,320 4,446
Alabama ................... 76 94 85 2,467 3,760 3,230
Mississippi.................. 72 84 71 828 1,344 1,136
Arkansas ................. 75 64 79 2,884 2,624 3,476
Louisiana ...................I 61 67 68 2,406 2,948 2,856
Oklahoma ................... 74 69 71 3,272 2,760 2,840
Texas.......... .............. 69 70 60 3,862 3,780 3,240
Total United States...... 112.8 116.4 | 109.0 363,367 385,4211 356,406
From "Crops and Markets," Bureau of Agricultural Economics, U. S.
D. A., December, 1935.






8 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Potatoes rank fourth among truck crops in Florida from the
standpoint of total value and of car-lot shipments, being exceeded
by tomatoes, beans and celery. As reported by the Florida State
Marketing Bureau for the four seasons 1931-32 to 1934-35, the
annual value of Florida's potato production ranged from
$2,171,946 to $3,608,505, and averaged $2,729,344.

AREAS OF PRODUCTION
In Florida potatoes are produced principally in two concen-
trated areas (Fig. 3), each different from the other in time
of crop movement, soils and climate. The largest area is known
as the Hastings district and involves St. Johns, Flagler, Clay
and Putnam counties. Principal communities included are Hast-
ings, Elkton, Tocoi, Federal Point, East Palatka, Bunnell and
others. Usually associated with the Hastings area is the La-
Crosse area in Alachua County. Since the methods and princi-
ples of production in all of these communities are similar, they
will be discussed in this publication under the term "Hastings
district," except where reference is made to specific minor dif-
ferences.















Fig. 3.-Leading commercial po-
tato growing areas of Florida in
1935 are represented by shaded
portions of the map.

--J









TABLE 2.-PLANTING DATES AND APPROXIMATE ACREAGE PLANTED TO POTATOES IN REPRESENTATIVE FLORIDA COUNTIES.

Main Crop Approximate Acreage
County Planting period Peak of planting 1932-33 1 1933-34 1934-35

Alachua ................. ................. Jan. 20-Feb. 10 ........... Jan. 25 ............. ....... 1,500 2,200 2,200
Clay ........... ............... ........ ............ Jan. 10-Feb. 1 .._ .............. Jan. 25 ........ ................. .. 800 750 800
Dade ....... ................................. Nov. 1-Dec. 20 ............... Nov. 1-15 ........................ 900 3,000 3,700
DeSoto ............................ ...... ......... Jan. 1-Jan. 20 ...... ....... Jan. 10 .......................... 300 350 300
Duval ..... .. ...... ......... ............... Jan. 1-Feb. 15 ... ........... .. Jan. 10-20 ............... ..... .. 300 400 300
Escambia ......... ........................... Jan. 20-Mar. 10 ......... .. Feb. 10-20 .............. 850 700 600
Flagler ....--............... ..................... Dec. 1-Jan. 25 ............... Jan. 1 ................................. 2,700 2,800 2,900
Gadsden ...................................... Feb. 15-Mar. 15 ............ Mar. 1 ................................... 300 350 350
Highlands ..... .... ........................... Dec. 22-Jan. 20 ............ Jan. 5 ......... ..... ... 20 25 25
Hillsborough ......................... Jan.-Mar. ........ ............ Feb. 1 ........................ 300 400 400
Holmes .... .................. .......... Feb.8-15 ............... ........ Feb. 8-15 .......... ....... 50 50 40
Lake ............. ........ ................... Last Jan.-M iddle Feb ........ Feb. 7 .............. ...- ..... ..... 350 275 475
Lee ........... .... .................. ........... Nov. 1-Jan. 1 ......... ............ Nov. 20-Dec. 20 ..... ........- 400 700 400
Manatee ........................... .................. Dec. 15-Jan. 10 ................... Dec. 15-Jan. 10 ....... ......... 300 700 800
Okaloosa .......................................... Feb. .......................... Feb. ........ .......... 100 100 100
Osceola ....................... ........................ Oct.-Mar. ................ Dec. ..................... ..... 80 100 100
Palm Beach ................ ..................... Sept. 15-Oct. 15 ... .. ... Oct. 5 ...................... 400 700 1,500
Pinellas .............................................. .. Sept. 15-M ar. 15 ...... ...... Sept. ...................... .............. 100 75 150
Polk .................. ............................... Dec. 15-Jan. 15 ................ Dec.-Jan.......... ......... 475 550 500
Putnam ....................................... ..... Dec. -Jan. 20 ..... ... ......... Jan. 10 ..... ........... ............. 2,300 2,450 2,500
St. Johns .............................. ...... Dec. 20-Feb. 1 ............... Jan. 15 ........................... 6,700 8,500 9,000







10 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The second largest area is located in Dade County and is
known as the Homestead, Goulds or South Allapattah district.
Potato acreage in this section has increased rapidly in recent
years but even in 1933-34 its production was less than one-third
that of St. Johns County alone.
Although these two areas are the most concentrated, many
other counties produce potatoes for shipment, and in nearly
every county of the state potatoes are grown for local markets
and home consumption. Potato acreages of representative coun-
ties for the past three years are given in Table 2. In each of
the three years, St. Johns County has led all the others by a
wide margin. The abrupt increase in acreage in Dade County
is especially worthy of note. From fifth place in 1932-33 it rose
to second place in 1933-34. Palm Beach County also has sub-
stantially increased its acreage since 1932-33.
TABLE 3.-ANNUAL CAR-LOT SHIPMENTS* OF FLORIDA POTATOES FROM THE
EIGHT LEADING POTATO COUNTIES.**

County 1927- 1928-29 1929-30 1930-311931-321932-33 1933-34 1934-35

Alachua 263 284 497 767 85 262 295 147
Clay 446 260 272 408 48 11 74 9
Dade 14 44 81 77 143 228 738 820
Escambia 115 47 79 251 128 137 149 109
Flagler 709 390 429 514 501 556 397 287
Palm Beach 268 38 61 105 56 7 60 70
Putnam 920 578 506 799 141 257 308 81
St. Johns 4445 2896 2050 3166 1070 1904 2463 1203

Exclusive of boat shipments.
** Compiled from reports of the Florida State Marketing Bureau.

The annual car-lot shipments of potatoes for eight years from
the eight leading potato counties are presented in Table 3, and
Table 4 gives the monthly shipment distribution of all counties
shipping potatoes in carload lots during the 1933-34 season.
These data give some idea of the time of crop movement from
the various areas. In general the bulk of the South Florida
movement is over before the main Hastings crop is dug. The
figures for this particular season do not hold true for every
year, but indicate the usual shipping trends. Table 5 gives the






TABLE 4.-MONTHLY DISTRIBUTION OF CAR-LOT SHIPMENTS* OF ALL FLORIDA COUNTIES SHIPPING POTATOES IN CARLOAD
LOTS DURING THE 1933-34 SEASON**.

County Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Total

U n ion ................................................... .... .... .. .. ............... ............ ............ ................ ................ ............. ................ 24 .. 26
A lachua.............................................. ............ .. ..... ........... ................ ..... ....... ................ ............... ............... ................ 295 295
M ar on ............................................... ..... ........... ................ ............... ................ ................ 2

F lagler c.. h......................................... ............. ................ ............... .... .......... .. .. ..... ..... ... 144 220 28 1 1 397
a. n..... ............. ........ ........ 2 2,
lPutnam........................... ........ ........................... ... ...... ...... 135 167 6 ............ 308
Dade..................................... .. ......... 1 ..... ................... 15 275 407 31 10 .... 738
B ro w a rd ....... .................................... l .. ...... ...... ..... ................ ................ ................ ............. .....| .B 1 ........8 ...... ................ 29
Dad e1 .............. 431................... 7
SBr ard...................... .. .. ................... 25 4 .. ............. ..................
Palm Beach.......I........ .8 28 11 61 2 .....60
Manatee 5 2 9 ............... .........3 5 2 9 ... .......24
H ardee ....... ...... ..... ................ ......... ......1.. ........................ 1 16 ....... ........ ....... ......... 2
................................. ............... ........... ............... .............. ............... ...... ............. .......... ........
Sa. ..2................ ....... .
L ee............... ................................ .. .............. ... ...... 1 10 110 45 166
Escam bia..... ..................................................... ..... .. ....... ...... ................ ...... ... ... .... .............. ......... 1..40 I 149



Martin 1..... 41 9.. ,14 1,. ... ... 1 3
tl ui ..... .............. .................... ... .... ......
ote inoe............. ........ ....... ..................... .. ....... ....
Soat ee...Lcie r................. ..... I... .............. ............... 1....1 -5 5. 0
nant hiver ( )...... e 4 421................ 1.. 2 .... ........ ....2... 47
Ido e............ .......... ..... ................ ............. ............... .........................7
Pol....................................- .. .. . . .7. .
Indsian 4 2...... ..........4 ....20 .............
Seminole. ..... ..... ........ ..................I...... ....... .... 7 ................... .....I 7
O sceola ................................... .. ....... ......... ---------------- ................ .... .... .. ....... 2 I ...... ......... ...... 5
V olusla .................................................I I ................ ........ ................ ................ -... 4 | 19 20 18 ............. 56
Sem inole........ ................................ .... ... ........ ............... ................ ................ ... ... .. .. .......... 3 .......... ................ ..... ...... ... I 3
Total actual cars I 4 49................... .- 9 49 41 951 2,124 1,501 43 13 5.031
Boat shipments (carloads),.. ... ..... .. .... .......... 58 14 27 203 ............ 674
Total carloads shipped....... ....... ....... ........... ............ 9 52 399 1086 2,399 1.704 43 13 5,705
SExclusive of boat shipments for which origin-by-county data are unavailable.
Compiled from reports of the Florida State Marketing Bureau. '















TABLE 5.-MONTHLY CAR-LOT SHIPMENTS* OF POTATOES FROM FLORIDA OVER A SIX-YEAR PERIOD**.

Season Aug. Sept. Oct Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. April May June July Total


1928-29 .............. ...... ..... .. ......... ...... 5 37 1,013 2,932 1,061 7 8 5,063
1929-30 ....... ......... 3 ....-...... ........... 2 30 183 543 1,906 2,068 23 23 4,781
1930-31 ................. 1............ 1 1 17 24 80 303 2,186 4,042 183 39 6,877
1931-32 ............. .... ..... ............ .................. 7 7 39 204 887 647 721 62 31 2,605
1932-33 ...................- ... ......... ... ..... ........ .. ......... 11 195 751 1,927 1,107 35 8 4,034
1933-34 ..... ............. -. .................. ... 9 52 399 1,086 2,399 1,704 43 13 5,705
1934-35 .......... .......... .. ......... ...... ........ ......... 41 106 386 732 923 1,718 21 5 3,932 .

Includes boat and pick-up express shipments.
** Compiled from reports of the Florida State Marketing Bureau.







Potato Growing in Florida 13

monthly car-lot shipments from Florida during the past seven
years. Although the principal harvest continues to occur in
March, April and May, shipments in January and February
are increasing. This increase in early shipments is largely due to
more early plantings in South Florida.
A few other early shipping states, including Texas, Alabama,
Louisiana, Mississippi, and in certain years, South Carolina and
California, compete with Florida's potato crop to some extent,
particularly toward the end of Florida's season. Foreign com-
petition fluctuates from year to year, especially from Mexico and
the West Indies, but has not been severe enough thus far to
affect seriously prices received for the Florida crop (31).

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS AFFECTING POTATO
PRODUCTION
There is no doubt that temperature, rainfall, soil character-
istics, light conditions, and local storms play very important
parts in the production of any potato crop. The failure of a
crop to produce normally is too often blamed on seed or fertilizer,
when in reality the cause of the trouble may be found in un-
favorable natural environmental conditions.
Temperature.-The potato is normally a cool season crop. The
largest yields of potatoes in the United States are obtained in
sections where the temperature is relatively cool during the
period of tuber formation and development. Bushnell (5) found
that the best temperature for tuber production is between 60
and 64 degrees F. Numerous other workers are agreed that as
the temperature rises above this optimum, tubers become
smaller, the number of stolons increases, and poorer yields in
general are obtained. For this reason growers attempting to
raise potatoes in Florida during the warm summer months in-
variably meet with poor success.
North Florida growers are limited in planting their early
crops by the frost hazard, which diminishes to some extent as
the areas move southward. This diminution of the frost hazard
is, however, not entirely coordinate with latitude. Type of soil
and topographical protection are very influential. It is well
known that crops grown on muck soils are more susceptible to
frost injury than those on most other types, and for this reason
growers in the Okeechobee region sometimes experience frost
when those further north, on the higher sandy soils, do not.
Tuber.formation, under ordinary conditions, begins about 3 or 4







14 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

weeks after the plants emerge, and it is during this period that
excessively high or low temperatures most seriously affect the
crop yield.
The matter of frost protection deeply concerns Florida potato
growers, particularly in the northern part of the state. A light
frost seldom injures the potato plant, but temperatures below
32 degrees F. often cause injury. It is not uncommon to see
the tops frozen back to the ground during cold weather. Spencer
(35) advises that cultivation be stopped at least 48 hours before
a freeze. He states that a marked difference in cold injury could
be noticed between cultivated and uncultivated fields. Filling
irrigation furrows with water tends to prevent a too rapid change
of temperature over the field. Small plants can be completely
covered with dirt without serious injury. They will eventually
grow out of the covering unassisted if not buried too deeply.
The author observed a successful protective measure against
cold in the Homestead area where a grower had piled logs covered
with sawdust on the windward side of his fields. Fires were
started as freezing temperatures approached and were kept
burning the following day, the smoke from the burning sawdust
shading the plants from the hot sun. Apparently the shading
influence the following day was as important as the heat influ-
ence during the night and early morning, since other fields in
the vicinity which were fired only at night showed considerably
more damage.
Kimbrough and Costa (27) found that the size of seed pieces
planted affect the recovery after a freeze to some extent. The
larger seed pieces may be expected to produce plants that will
show considerably more recovery, judged by yields produced,
than the smaller pieces. They emphasize, however, that this
influence of the seed piece lasts only for a certain period, and
if plants have reached the stage of having potatoes the size of
small marbles when the plants are frozen, no profitable crop
need be expected regardless of the size of seed piece planted.
Another phase of the temperature-yield relationship is the
tendency for most potato fungous diseases to develop more
rapidly in warm weather. Late blight (Phytophthora infestans),
a cool weather disease, is an exception to this rule.
Moisture.-Temperature and moisture are closely related in
affecting potato yields. If soil moisture is low during periods
of high temperatures, the harmful effects of high temperature
upon tuber formation will be accentuated. On the other hand,
plentiful moisture during warm weather tends to still further







Potato Growing in Florida 15

increase the prevalence of most fungous diseases. Ensign (11)
found that yields seem to follow moisture changes more closely
than those of temperature. Since the winter and early spring
months normally constitute Florida's "dry" season, danger from
excessive rains is generally slight, except for very early plant-
ings. October plantings in South Florida are occasionally
drowned out by heavy fall rains. Artesian wells occur in the
Hastings area, and also on the West Coast, and growers in
these sections irrigate generally during extensive dry periods.
Rainfall in southern Florida during the crop season usually is
sufficient to carry the crop through without irrigation, and
little is used, since artesian water is found only at extremely low
depths in this section. Regardless of the source, sufficient and
well-distributed moisture is necessary for a healthy, steady
growth of the plant. An irregular supply of moisture during
the period of tuber development often contributes to the occur-
rence of such troubles as growth cracks and "knobby" tubers.
Just as the type of soil frequently modifies the temperature,
it also affects the moisture supply available for crop develop-
ment. In fact the variations in soil type are even more important
from the standpoint of moisture than of temperature. A soil
high in organic matter has a proportionately higher water-
retentive capacity. Likewise, finely pulverized soils as clays
and marls hold water more tenaciously than sandy soils. The
latter have the advantage of better drainage during periods of
excessive rainfall.
If it ever becomes feasible to mulch early fall potato plant-
ings on a commercial scale in northern Florida, the procedure
might give worthwhile results. Ensign (14) found in tests at
Hastings (1930 and 1932) that mulch paper produced a very
significant increase in yield of potatoes. Spaulding Rose in 1930
under mulch paper gave an increase of 124 percent in yield of
marketable tubers. Rainfall that season, especially four to six
weeks prior to harvesting, was very heavy. The test was re-
peated in 1932, a dry season, with two varieties, Spaulding Rose
and Katahdin. Spaulding Rose under mulch gave an increased
yield of 21 percent of marketable tubers, Katahdin 68 percent.
Light.-The amount and intensity of sunlight varies consider-
ably in different seasons and in different sections of the United
States. Since a crop grown in the summer experiences more
hours of daylight than a crop grown in winter, it is naturally
to be expected that potatoes grown in Florida must contend
with different light effects than those grown in Northern states.






16 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Ensign (13) at Gainesville constructed special equipment in
which he grew Spaulding Rose potatoes under three different
light conditions, one approximating the conditions of Maine dur-
ing its growing season, one approximating those of Florida's
crop season, and one comparable to Cuba's growing season.
He found a surprisingly different response in plant growth and
yield to the three light conditions. Those grown under Maine
light conditions significantly outyielded those in Florida light,
which in turn outyielded the plants grown under Cuban light
conditions. He concludes, among other things, that a variety
will respond differently to different total hours of sunlight dur-
ing the growing season. This difference in response may show
itself in character of vine growth, earliness, size and shape of
tuber, and in yield.
Other Factors.-Several other environmental factors affect
Florida potato crops. Very often early plantings, especially in
the southern part of the state, are damaged by high winds and
driving rains from tropical storms. Sometimes hail damage
occurs, particularly with crops held late in the spring. Many
growers insure their crops against hurricane and hail damage.

POTATO SOILS
The soil, while not as limiting a factor in potato production
as climate, nevertheless exerts its influence upon yield, earliness,
quality and the development of certain diseases. Stuart (36)
states that "to be entirely suited to a potato crop a soil must
be loose, friable, well supplied with organic matter, deep, well
drained and with sufficient moisture, either from natural or
artificial sources, to insure the development of a good crop."
Good yields are obtained on certain Florida soils that do not
entirely meet these requirements, but there is little question that
the yields would be even better if they did.
There is an opinion in the minds of some people that potatoes
produced on muck or peat soils are less rich in starch than those
grown in gravelly or sandy loam soils, but Thompson (37)
states that although there is some prejudice against the quality
of muck-grown potatoes, "this is probably not justified, as pota-
toes of excellent quality are being grown on well-drained and
properly fertilized soils of this type." Certainly this seems true
of potatoes grown on the various muck soils of Florida.
The predominating potato soils in the Hastings district are
the Bladen fine sand (Elkton) and the Bladen fine sandy loam






Potato Growing in Florida 17

(Hastings, LaCrosse). These types of soil are found in many
flatwoods areas of the state. When properly drained and pro-
vided with sufficient moisture they are well adapted to potato
production. Their heavy sandy-clay subsoil which occurs one
to three feet below the surface induces a slow movement of
ground water, detrimental from a drainage standpoint but of
decided advantage in irrigation. When irrigation is desired,
water from artesian wells is allowed to flow through water
furrows provided for the purpose. Water spreads from these
ditches over the surface of the subsoil and then upwards through
the surface soil by capillarity. The water table in these soils
is usually less than two feet from the surface. The Hastings
soils, and in fact all of the flatwoods soils of the state of similar
sandy type are, according to Floyd and Ruprecht (17), some-
what lacking in humus and particularly in the elements of
fertility-nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash. Humus and
some nitrogen is added by the incorporation of green manure
crops, such as cowpeas and velvet beans, with the soil. The other
elements are added by application of commercial fertilizer.
The potato soils of southern Dade County are quite different
from those found anywhere else in the United States. They
present a marked contrast in character to the soils of the Hast-
ings district. In general they consist of a layer two or three
feet deep of highly calcareous marl over oolitic limerock. During
the summer the water table lies close to the surface, and some-
times the fields are flooded after heavy rains. As the planting
season approaches and the summer rains subside, the water table
drops two or three feet below the surface and usually remains
there during the growing season. There are no artesian wells
in the area, and as rainfall is usually adequate during the winter
months, irrigation is not practiced. Good potato land in the
area is characterized as being deeper and better drained than
other marl soil in the vicinity. The lower and shallower soils,
and particularly those found in the areas known locally as the
"inland glades," have not been found suitable for potato grow-
ing because in wet weather their drainage is poor and in dry
weather they dry out too rapidly. Their shallowness also tends
to prevent proper root development. Even the best marl or
"glade" potato fields frequently are dotted here and there with
"potholes." These potholes, or sinks, vary greatly in dimensions,
and since their centers are low and consist of a muck formation
very sticky in all but unusually dry weather, none but the very
small and shallow ones can be farmed.






18 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Marl soils are deficient not only in organic matter but in the
necessary nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash as well. Fur-
thermore, it has been found necessary (34) to add some form
of manganese for best yields. It is usually applied with the
fertilizer in the form of manganese sulfate. Luxuriant summer
weed growth turned under in the fall heretofore has been the
sole source of organic matter for the soil, but some growers are
now practicing the planting of a leguminous cover crop for
this purpose. Velvet beans and soybeans are most commonly
used at present. Experiments at the Sub-Tropical Experiment
Station have pointed out that Osceola and Chinese velvet beans
and Biloxi soybeans are well adapted to this purpose.
In 1928 Scott (33) wrote: "The marl soils in Florida cannot
be recommended for Irish potatoes, since this type of soil is
neutral or strongly alkaline. Potatoes grown on this soil are
very apt to be scabby, although marl soils are desirable for many
other crops." This opinion was held by many at the time the
bulletin was published. However, after several years of ex-
tensive potato growing on the marl, serious scab infestation has
appeared only in a few scattered fields, and even in these its
severity has varied considerably from season to season, in dif-
ferent parts of the field, and with different seed sources. More
light is thrown on the subject by the recent report of Blodgett
and Howe (3) in New York State, who after a survey, including
pH tests, of some 313 soil areas, found that potatoes on soils
from pH 4.3 to 5.4 had the least scab, more from pH 7.5 to 8.5
and most from pH 5.45 to 7.4. They also found significantly,
more scab at elevations from 400 to 1,200 feet than at either
lower or higher elevations. Goss (19) likewise found in a survey
of potato soils in western Nebraska that there was a very evident'
and consistent decrease in both the amount and severity of
scab as the pH values increased from 5.92 to 8.25. Both of
these reports more or less refute previous ideas on the subject.
Theoretically applying the results of New York and Nebraska
work to Florida conditions we find that they fit in very well
with our marl soil situation. Various tests indicate that its
pH range is from about 7.5 to 8.5, with the majority of fields
probably averaging around 8.0. Furthermore the elevation is
only a few feet above sea level.
Soils of organic origin occur in the Everglades area around
the shores of Lake Okeechobee. For agricultural purposes these
soils are classified into three types. One is known locally as
"custard apple muck." It comprises a narrow and slightly






Potato Growing in Florida 19

elevated rim of true muck from 1 to 21/2 miles wide extending
around the eastern and southern shores of the lake. It is high
in mineral content, as compared with the other types, and has
been farmed over a longer period of years. Another, and the
most extensive type of Everglades soil, is termed the "saw-
grass" peat. In this the organic matter has not decomposed
to the degree reached by the other types, and is associated with
a very low mineral content. It has only recently been utilized
for growing potatoes, following the discovery by Allison, Bryan
and Hunter (1) of its productiveness through the addition of
certain mineral salts with the fertilizer. The third soil type,
considered intermediate between the "custard apple" muck and
the "saw-grass" peat, is termed "elder" land. It represents a
more advanced stage of decomposition than the "saw-grass"
peat, and has a somewhat higher mineral content. Potatoes are
most extensively planted on the custard apple muck and saw-
grass peat soils which vary from 3 to 10 feet in depth and are
underlaid with limestone. The Everglades peat normally has
a 3 to 5 percent lime content.
Moisture control is one of the chief problems of the Ever-
glades. When wet the soil is not suitable for growing crops
and when too dry it is subject to burning. Although the soils
of this area have the advantage of a sub-tropical climate, they
are also more subject to frost damage than are the higher and
lighter soils of adjacent areas. Being relatively high in nitrogen
they require less of this expensive element in the fertilizer, but
the other essential plant foods, phosphoric acid and potash, are
notably deficient, as are also the elements copper and manganese,
particularly on all but the custard apple land. Copper ordinarily
is applied to the saw-grass soils when virgin land is first cul-
tivated and this application apparently suffices for a period of
years. The manganese is applied with the phosphoric acid and
potash in commercial fertilizers.
The soils of the middle East Coast area, around Fort Pierce
and Vero Beach in St. Lucie and Indian River counties, are nearly
all sandy, consisting principally of a dark gray to black sandy
surface soil with a somewhat plastic brownish red subsoil, under-
laid with limestone. The type most favored by potato growers
is found in areas formerly covered by cypress, but which have
been drained partially by large canals. These canals serve also
as irrigation aids in dry weather. The soils are normally more
moist than the Bladen series, and somewhat more fertile, having
a higher content of organic matter. Moisture control is a prob-






20 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

lem and most growers plant on beds to provide more adequate
drainage.
The major potato soils of the West Coast, namely in Lee,
Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Hardee and DeSoto counties,
are. predominantly sandy loams of the Norfolk and Parkwood
series. They consist chiefly of pine and cabbage palmetto land,
underlaid at a depth of several feet with a clay subsoil. Drain-
age is fairly good. Many growers, particularly in the Manatee
County area, use irrigation from artesian wells. There is a
considerable acreage of muck in Sarasota and Pinellas counties
in which potatoes are grown. In Hillsborough County the best
potato land is considered to be the well-drained hammock land
type known as Scranton fine sand, found extensively around
Plant City. All of these soils except the muck require applica-
tions of complete fertilizer. The muck soils require less nitrogen
in fertilizer form.
West Florida potato soils, and especially those of Escambia
County where the largest West Florida acreage is grown, con-
sist principally of high pine land of the Norfolk sandy loam
series, with good drainage. This soil is similar to the Bladen
soils of the Hastings area but is not so wet. Potatoes are grown
also on what is known as the Orangeburg soils, which are found
extensively in Jackson and Leon counties. They have a higher
clay content and are considered to be more fertile than the
Norfolk soils, although the latter are preferred for potatoes
because they are not so compact and heavy.
Central Florida potato soils include Fort Meade and Eustis
fine sands of the heavy Norfolk phase, and Leon and Portsmouth
hammock and palmetto flatwoods soils, all requiring applica-
tions of commercial fertilizer for best results.
For a more complete discussion of the general soil types of
Florida the reader is referred to Bryan and Stoutamire (4)
and for more specific information concerning the Everglades
muck soils, to Allison, Bryan and Hunter (1).
VARIETIES
The choice of a potato variety must be governed by its adapta-
bility in yield and quality to the soil type on which it is to be
grown, to the average growing season temperature, rainfall and
light influences, to disease resistance, and to market preference.
A great many potato varieties are being grown for market
in the United States at the present time, but only two (Fig. 2)






Potato Growing in Florida 21

are grown in Florida on a large commercial scale. Spaulding
Rose No. 4 is the principal one grown throughout Northern Flor-
ida, and particularly in the Hastings, LaCrosse and Bunnell
areas. At least 98 percent of the potatoes shipped from these
areas during the past season were of this variety. Since the
major movement of potatoes from the state is from the Hastings
area, it follows that more of Spaulding Rose No. 4 variety is
shipped than any other. The Spaulding Rose No. 4 is a medium
to medium-late maturing variety with broad-roundish flattened
to oblong-flattened tubers having almost white flesh-colored
skins with eyes medium in depth and number.
Although the Spaulding Rose No. 4 is the most important
of all varieties in the largest concentrated potato growing area,
the Bliss Triumph variety is grown in by far the largest num-
ber of counties. In the Homestead and Okeechobee sections
and;on the East and West Coasts, Bliss Triumph is planted almost
to the exclusion of all other varieties by commercial growers.
Very seldom is the Spaulding Rose planted in South Florida.
Both varieties are grown in West, North and Central Florida,
with Bliss Triumph predominating.
The Bliss Triumph is slightly earlier than the Spaulding Rose,
with roundish to roundish-flattened tubers with the stem end
usually deeply indented. The tubers are solid red in color with
deeper and more numerous eyes than those of the Spaulding
Rose variety.
A few other standard varieties have been grown from time
to time and are still produced on a small scale in all parts of
Florida. The Green Mountain and Irish Cobbler are the most
important of these. The Green Mountain variety is normally
considered to be a medium late variety. Its tubers are moder-
ately to distinctly oblong and sometimes roundish under Florida
conditions, and usually broad-flattened with blunt ends. Their
skin is creamy white in color, with eyes medium in number and
rather shallow.
The Irish Cobbler is an early variety, with roundish to round-
ish-flattened or slightly oblong-flattened tubers, with the stem
end often deeply indented. The skin, like that of Green Mountain,
is creamy white in color, with eyes medium in number and vary-
ing in character from shallow to fairly deep.
Various experiment station workers have conducted .potato
variety tests in the state, and their results throw an interesting
light upon the variety situation in Florida. ,,






22 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Gratz (21) in 1925 reported the results of five years varietal
tests in the Hastings and Everglades areas. Until that date
Florida growers had never had the results available of any ac-
curate experimental comparisons of the Spaulding Rose with
other varieties to see which would behave most efficiently under
Florida conditions. He grew Spaulding Rose, Bliss Triumph,
Green Mountain, Irish Cobbler and Golden Russet in carefully
planned, replicated plots, and secured some surprising results.
He found that over a period of five years extremely variable in
climatic factors the Spaulding Rose No. 4 variety was rather
consistently outyielded in primes (No. 1 potatoes) by Irish Cob-
blers, Green Mountains and Bliss Triumphs, regardless of the
extremes of weather conditions. The Golden Russets, while out-
yielding the Spaulding Rose in many cases, were very immature
when dug, and the tubers bruised easily. It is doubtful if this
variety is adapted to Florida conditions because of the longer
season it requires to reach maturity.
In Aroostook County, Maine, the different varieties mature in
the following order: Bliss Triumph, Irish Cobbler, Green
Mountain and Spaulding Rose. The difference in time of matur-
ity between Triumphs and Cobblers is very little and the same
is true of the Mountains and Spauldings. Between these two
groups, however, there is about two weeks difference. Gratz
found through his five years' observations that the order of
maturity in Florida is identical with that of Maine. There is
a possibility that the time of maturity has some effect upon
the yield, since his yield data show that this same order of
maturity was identical with the order, in Florida, for the pro-
duction of marketable tubers.
The findings of Tucker (38) were slightly different in that
in his tests Irish Cobbler yielded less than the Spaulding Rose,
although the difference was not great. He planted variety trials
at Hastings, Doctor's Inlet and LaCrosse during the 1931 season
and found that Green Mountain outyielded the other varieties
in each locality. The average yields in barrels of No. 1 potatoes
per acre for all trials were as follows: Green Mountain, 54.3;
Bliss Triumph, 47.3; Spaulding Rose, 47.1; and Irish Cobbler,
43.4. His yields as here expressed followed the same order as
his results of studies of susceptibility to bacterial wilt (Bacter-
ium solanacearum E. F. S.). He found that in percentage (by
weight) of tubers infected, Green Mountain showed 4.7 percent;
Bliss Triumph, 12.5 percent; Spaulding Rose, 18.9 percent; and
Irish Cobbler, 24.8 percent. It is probable that the slightly






Potato Growing in Florida 23

reduced Cobbler yield in this test might have been due to the
heavier infestation of wilt.
Eddins (10) planted a variety test plot on bacterial wilt
infested soil at LaCrosse and found that nine selections of
Spaulding Rose and one selection each of the Green Mountain,
Bliss Triumph, and Irish Cobbler varieties varied in their sus-
ceptibility to wilt, thus indicating the possibility of developing
a wilt-resistant strain through selection.
Ensign (14), after tests at Hastings in 1931, reported that
the new variety Katahdin shows promise for northern Florida.
It is a new seedling developed by the United States Department
of Agriculture, and Clark, Stuart and Stevenson (9) describe it
as being resistant to mild mosaic but not to spindle tuber or
leaf roll. Its tubers are short, elliptical to roundish, medium
thick with smooth skin, dark cream-buff in color. The eyes are
shallow and of the same color as the skin. It is classed as a
relatively late maturing variety. The performance of Katahdin
in this state is being observed with considerable interest by com-
mercial growers, especially in the Hastings area.



















Fig. 4.-Variety test plots (1935) of the Sub-Tropical Experiment Sta-
tion, Homestead. In foreground, Irish Cobbler (left) and Bliss Triumph
(right).
Tests with these and many other varieties are being continued
at Hastings, Belle Glade and Homestead (Fig. 4). The results
will be made available from time to time as the studies progress.






24 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

SOURCE AND QUALITY OF SEED
The quality of seed used in planting a crop of potatoes has a
very direct relationship to the profits realized from the harvest.
To be considered good seed, the tubers must be true to varietal
type, of a high yielding strain, free from disease, firm and sound,
and should show sprouts beginning to develop at planting time.
Such seed is produced only by healthy, vigorous, high-yielding
plants grown under favorable climatic conditions. Many
Northern and Western states and a few Southern states special-
ize in the production of potato seed of this type, and it is from
these specialized seed producing areas that most successful Flor-
ida growers obtain their seed.
All of these states maintain a state seed inspection or certifi-
cation department, to which their growers can submit applica-
tions for certification service. Certification standards vary in
the different states but all of them are fairly strict. Certified
seed is seed which has been inspected by trained state inspectors
at intervals during its growing period in the field and before
shipment and pronounced true to varietal type, of a good yield-
ing strain, and reasonably free from such tuber-transmitted
diseases as mosaic, leaf-roll, spindle tuber, blackleg, black scurf
and scab. One of the chief benefits of seed certification is
derived from the assistance it lends in the control of virus
diseases, which cannot be controlled in the field by dusting or
spraying.
There is abundant evidence of the general superiority of
certified over uncertified seed potatoes. Jehle and, Oswald (25)
in tests in Maryland with Irish Cobbler seed over a five-year
period concluded that the average yield obtained from certified
seed was larger than that obtained from uncertified seed, and
that the health and vigor of the seed stock was the most im-
portant factor influencing its productivity. Moore (30) of
Michigan, in reporting comparative tests by a large number of
independent investigators in 18 different states and several
provinces of Canada, pointed out that in every state the yield
was increased by the use of certified seed, and that the increases
varied in the different experiments from 31 to 219 bushels per
acre over uncertified stock. Weber (40) of Florida conducted
cooperative tests with two different growers, one near Elkton
and one at Federal Point, each of whom grew both certified






Potato Growing in Florida 25

and common stock the same year. In the Elkton tests, certified
seed produced an 18 percent higher yield than the common
stock, and in the Federal Point tests the increase for certified
stock was 13 percent. Gratz (20), also working in the Hastings
area, found in several years' tests that certified stocks more
often than not outyielded uncertified seed.
While it is true that some growers have secured satisfactory
yields from uncertified stock, the majority have not. In buying
uncertified seed it is almost impossible to judge the quality, and
the shipment may consist of poor quality table stock, or of
high grade, vigorous seed stock. Certainly those who plant
uncertified seed are a menace to their neighbors, since there is
the obvious possibility of infecting surrounding fields with virus
diseases.
Florida-grown seed potatoes are not generally used for winter
plantings, since in addition to the disease hazard from virus
infection, the spring crop must be kept too long and the fall
crop does not mature sufficiently well to give reliable seed. For
early fall planting, the seed may be taken from the spring-grown
Florida crop. If only sprouted tubers are planted, a fair stand
will result.
At present Maine probably ships more seed potatoes into
Florida than any other state. Most of the Spaulding Rose stock
comes from Maine. Although Bliss Triumph is also grown in
that state, the chief source of this variety has been from states
in the Middle West along the Canadian border. North Dakota
furnished more seed to Dade County growers in the fall of 1935
than any other state. Other general sources are Michigan, Min-
nesota, Nebraska, New Brunswick, Ohio, Prince Edward Island,
South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Louisiana seed is used
to some extent for early fall plantings. Small plantings of
Arkansas seed have been made in Holmes County, and on the
West Coast, particularly in Manatee County, a few growers
have used Colorado seed.
A good criterion for a new grower in choosing a seed source
is to follow the advice of the leading growers in the community.
Any innovations should be tested intelligently on a small scale
at first. It is also fair to bear in mind that the quality of any
seed stock, including its ability to yield well, will normally fluc-
tuate somewhat from year to year.






26 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

PREPARING THE LAND
It has long been known that potatoes thrive better in a fairly
loose, friable soil than in one that is hard and compact. An
abundant supply of organic matter assists in keeping the land
in a friable condition, and also in regulating the availability of
moisture and plant food materials. For these reasons nearly
all Florida farmers plow their land before planting, turning
under as much vegetation as possible. Some areas grow a
special cover crop for this purpose and others simply plow under
the summer's weed growth.
Plowing at least a month or two ahead of planting is most
desirable, since it gives the vegetation a chance to decay some-
what and thereby interferes less with subsequent cultural opera-
tions. Some growers plow three months ahead of planting, and
this is preferable, since the process of decay will be even further
advanced. Generally speaking, this turned-under vegetation will
decay more rapidly in moist soils than in drier ones. Unfortu-
nately, in some locations, such as on the marl and muck soils of
South Florida, heavy summer rains prevent early plowing. In
these areas it is done as early as possible depending upon existing
soil conditions.
Where nut grass is a serious menace some growers hold that
if the plowing is done just before planting, the nut grass will
not have a chance to develop to as thick a stand as it otherwise
would. Nut grass (Cyperus rotundus L.), a very persistent
weed with underground tubers or "nuts," is ,well distributed
throughout the state, and presents a serious handicap to the
industry. Many measures of eradication have been attempted,
but thus far in Florida the only successful practical method has
been to let the seriously infested fields grow to high weeds or
heavy cover crops for several years. A heavy growth of vegeta-
tion tends to choke it out.
Most of Florida's potato land is plowed with ordinary mold-
board or "bottom" plows. Where summer weed growth is
abundant, large rolling coulters are attached to the plows. In
North and West Florida much of the work is done with mules,
the mule-drawn sulky plow being a common sight in many
potato fields. In South Florida, particularly on the muck
around Lake Okeechobee, on the marl in Dade County, and on
the sandy loam soils of Lee County, tractor-drawn implements
are used almost exclusively in preparing the land.
Preparation of land in the Hastings section proper, where






Potato Growing in Florida 27

potatoes are planted on ridges built up on rather wide beds,
differs somewhat from methods followed elsewhere. In the
LaCrosse section, where ridges are not built as high, the land
is usually plowed and harrowed "broadcast." At Hastings
this broadcast system is used only occasionally. Where the
ridges from the previous year's crop have not been leveled down,
the land usually is prepared by splitting the old ridges with a
middle-breaker plow, thereby making a rather flat-topped ridge
where the furrow previously existed. This operation is nearly
always performed during October. Usually the procedure is
repeated one or more times during the ensuing two months
to thoroughly incorporate all vegetation with the soil. Some
times the ridges are built a little higher with each working. At
any rate, when the fertilizing is done, usually one to four weeks
before planting, a rather flat-topped ridge exists. The fertilizer
is applied in three narrow bands on the top of the ridge by means
of a fertilizer drill or distributor. The fertilizer is then covered
by further hilling the ridge with either a middle-breaker or a
disc cultivator. The ridges are later "boarded-off" or rolled
down (Fig. 5) to partially compact the soil and provide a flat-
topped ridge for the furrow openers on the planter.






-I'













Fig. 5.-This rig is used for rolling down ridges following the application
of fertilizer (Hastings).






28 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

On flat land where water is likely to stand after rains, the
fields are originally plowed up broadcast into beds of sufficient
width to provide adequate drainage and irrigation. The beds
are made of various widths, from 20 to 100 feet, depending upon
drainage required and the personal preference of the glower.
The soil is then disked to the center, so that by planting time
there will be a water furrow (Fig. 6) one to two feet deep
between the beds. This water or "dead" furrow, connected
with others like it to an open drainage ditch, prevents the land
from being flooded by heavy rains, and in prolonged dry weather
is sometimes used for irrigation, particularly on higher land.
The water furrows are kept open and free of weeds during
the growing season.
















Fig. 6.-Water furrow as used in the Hastings area.

In many low flatwoods areas the system of planting on beds
is followed. This is particularly true in Duval, Highlands, Osce-
ola, Polk, and Pinellas counties. On the sandy soils of Palm
Beach, Broward and Dade counties ridges are built up before
planting and in the Manatee county area the system of planting
two rows of potatoes on a wide ridge is practiced by some.
Growers in the other areas generally plant at ground level
or slightly below, hilling the rows at subsequent cultivations.
The ground in these sections is plowed in the ordinary manner,
and subsequent harrowing with disc and other types of harrows
prepares the ground and keeps down weed growth until plant-
ing time.






Potato Growing in Florida 29

FERTILIZERS
Nearly all Florida soils are deficient in the so-called essential
plant foods, namely nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. The
muck soils are an exception to this, containing ordinarily a good
supply of nitrogen but being notably deficient in some of the
others. Certain types of muck land around Lake Okeechobee,
as has already been pointed out, are also deficient in manganese
and copper. The marl soils of Dade County have shown a
marked plant response to applications of manganese sulfate
with the fertilizer.
Potatoes require an abundant supply of available plant nu-
trients. In Florida this nutritional matter is furnished the
plants largely in the form of commercial fertilizer. Only a few
growers apply stable manure to their land, and these on a small
scale, since the manure now costs more than the resultant yields
justify. In leading potato sections green manure crops are
grown on some farms during summer. The plowing under of
such summer crops as cowpeas, velvet beans and soybeans adds
nitrogen as well as organic matter to the soil. In the Hastings
area cowpeas (Iron, Brabham and Clay) and corn (Cuban Flint)
are the most important cover or green manure crops, and in
the Homestead area velvet beans (Osceola and Old Florida) and
soybeans (Biloxi) are the crops usually employed. Growers in
other areas use all of these various crops, with corn and cow-
peas being the most extensively planted combination over the
state. The corn ears are usually harvested for stock feed and
seed for the following season.
Florida fertilizer formulas are now expressed in terms of the
percentages of total nitrogen (N), phosphoric acid (P205) and
potash (K20) present, in the order named. For example, in a
ton of 5-8-5 fertilizer, there is 5 percent nitrogen, 8 percent
phosphoric acid and 5 percent potash. On the fertilizer tags
the amount of total nitrogen expressed is further subdivided into
water soluble and water insoluble nitrogen. These analyses are
all based on the 1935 fertilizer law. Prior to the passing of
this law, Florida fertilizer formulas were expressed in terms of
ammonia (NH3), phosphoric acid (Ps05) and potash (K20).
Under the new law, the expression of phosphoric acid and potash
remains the same, but the nitrogen is now expressed as nitrogen
rather than as ammonia. The nitrogen equivalent of ammonia
is easily obtained by multiplying by the factor .823. Thus 5
percent ammonia is the equivalent of 4.115 percent nitrogen.






30 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Conversely, to find the ammonia equivalent of nitrogen, multiply
by the factor 1.214. Thus 5 percent nitrogen is equivalent to
6.070 percent ammonia. In other words a 5-8-5 under the old
law would be practically equivalent to a 4-8-5 under the new
1935 law. On the other hand, a 5-8-5 under the new law is
practically the same as a 6-8-5 would have been under the old
law.
These different constituents (nitrogen, phosphoric acid and
potash) may be derived from several sources. Common sources
of nitrogen are Peruvian guano, fish scrap, tankage, castor
pomace, goat manure, cottonseed meal, cyanamid, nitrate of
soda and sulfate of ammonia. The most common source of phos-
phoric acid is superphosphate (acid phosphate), but rock phos-
phate, colloidal phosphate and triple superphosphate are some-
times used. Ordinary sources of potash are sulfate of potash
and muriate of potash. Commercial sources of some of these
materials vary in the amount of element contained. Cottonseed
meal, for instance, sometimes varies from 6 to 9 percent in
nitrogen. Furthermore, a source of nitrogen often includes some
of the other elements. To use the example already given, a
typical cottonseed meal decorticatedd) contains froni 6 to 8
percent nitrogen, about 2.5 percent phosphoric acid and about
1.7 percent potash. Peruvian guano now found on the market
contains 11 to 16 percent nitrogen, 8 to 12 percent phosphoric
acid and 2 to 3 percent potash.
In fertilizer parlance any material produced from plant or
animal life is considered as being an organic material. Among
these are guano, cottonseed meal, dried blood, sheep manure,
etc. Inorganic materials include the so-called "chemical" fertil-
izers, and such substances as nitrate of soda, sulfate of ammonia,
superphosphate, and the sulfate and muriate of potash. The
bulk of the potato fertilizer used in this state is made up of
a mixture of organic and inorganic materials. The feeling is
that the organic materials, being less soluble, are ordinarily
available to the plant over a longer period of time than the
inorganic constituents, which, being more soluble, are quickly
available but tend to leach from the soil. However, good results
have been obtained through the use of recently introduced high
analysis fertilizers, known to the grower as "chemical" fertil-
izers. These usually are sold in more concentrated form than
the standard materials, and are, therefore, less bulky. They are
entirely inorganic, and just how efficiently they will perform
over a number of years remains to be seen. Several new syn-






Potato Growing in Florida 31

thetic fertilizer manufacturing processes have been patented
and their products are on the market under trade names.
Unfortunately, a mere chemical analysis of the soil does not
give an accurate basis for determining what amounts of the
nutritive elements should be applied in fertilizer form. Our
present soil analytical methods do not show the availability of
certain compounds already in the soil, because availability de-
pends in large part upon the moisture, temperature, cultural
treatment and acidity of the soil. A crop test is the only practical
means of determining the availability of plant food, either from
the soil or from fertilizers.
It is far better for a new grower to follow the fertilizer
methods used successfully by the older residents of the area in
which he plans to grow potatoes than to take up different methods
before trying them on a small scale first. Experiment station
tests are being carried out in the major potato sections, and
results of these become available to the growers from time
to time.
Potato growers in the Hastings area usually apply their fer-
tilizer front two to. six weeks before planting, although a few
fertilize at planting time. If applied early it is distributed with
a separate fertilizer drill (Fig. 7), and if at planting time it
is distributed from a fertilizer attachment on the planter. The
very early applications are of high organic analysis, ranging
from 40 to 70 percent organic nitrogen. When the fertilizer
is not applied until planting time, the percentage of organic
ammonia generally is lower. Probably a 4-7-5 formula' (40 to
50 percent organic) is used more than any other, most growers-
applying it at the rate of a ton to the acre. Nearly all growers
apply their balanced fertilizer in one application. Some top-
dress a month or so later with 150 to 200 pounds of nitrate of
soda if the crop seems to warrant it. Others side-dress only the
water furrows, which occur every 12 to 16 rows, depending upon
the field layout. A few are using the high-analysis inorganic
fertilizers for the major application, apparently with satis-
factory results.
Growers in the Homestead area apply the fertilizer at plant-
ing time with the planting machinery. A 4-8-5 formula is used
generally in this area, although more variation in formulas
occurs than in North Florida. Applications of a ton to the acre
are most common. Manganese sulfate (65 to 83 percent) is
1 All formulas in this publication are expressed as nitrogen, phosphoric
acid and potash, in accordance with the fertilizer law of 1935.






32 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

mixed with the fertilizer at rates from 100 to 200 pounds per
ton. Some apply all of the fertilizer in one application and
others use about two-thirds at planting time and the rest as a
side application four to six weeks later. It is thought that in
rainy seasons the divided application is more efficient. A few
side-dress later with sulfate of ammonia or nitrate of soda at
the rate of about 200 pounds per acre, but this is not a general
practice.


















Fig. 7.-Distributing fertilizer prior to planting potatoes (Hastings).

With the exception of the Everglades muck soils, practices
in other areas of the state are very similar to those followed
in the Hastings and Homestead areas. Formulas analyzing
3-10-7 and 6-11-10 are frequently used on the Escambia County
farms of West Florida, although 4-8-5 and 3-7-5 formulas are
also used in that section. Growers in Central Florida, particu-
larly in Highlands, Osceola and Polk counties, often apply less
than a ton to the acre. Applications of from 1400 to 1800
pounds to the acre are customary. In Lee, Manatee, Hills-
borough, Sarasota, Pinellas, and DeSoto counties, on the West
Coast, practices are similar to those on the Lower East Coast.
The Everglades soils present a fertilizer problem quite dif-
ferent from those found anywhere else in the state. Most of
the fertilizer used in this area contains manganese sulfate. On
the saw-grass land where copper has been found beneficial, it
is applied in the form of copper sulfate (bluestone) and broad-






Potato Growing in Florida 33

cast over the land before the initial cultivation at rates from
50 to 100 pounds per acre. Standard commercial fertilizer form-
ulas used for potatoes on the Everglades soils are 0-10-12 and
0-8-16, although other combinations of elements are also used.
Fertilizer in this area is nearly always applied in one application
at planting time, and at rates from 200 to 500 pounds per acre.
PREPARING SEED FOR PLANTING
A number of potato diseases, such as scab and black scurf,
are carried on the surface of seed potatoes. The certification
standards require that there be a minimum of such diseases pres-
ent, but not that the tubers be treated in disinfectant for elimina-
tion of disease. There is some difference of opinion among
growers on the subject of whether or not it pays to disinfect
seed potatoes for scab and black scurf in Florida. Gratz (22),
after a careful five-year investigation in the Hastings area of
the effect of seed-potato treatment on yield and rhizoctonosis
(black scurf) in Florida from 1924 to 1929, concludes that such
treatments on a commercial scale with either corrosive sub-
limate, hot formaldehyde, or organic mercury compounds are
not justified in that section. It might be stated that seed treat-
ment only destroys the organisms on the seed surface itself. If
the soil is already infested with scab or rhizoctonia organisms,
seed treatment, particularly of certified stock, to control scab
or black scurf is thought to be of little value.
Size of the seed piece planted is a very important factor in
any consideration of the profit realized from a crop of potatoes.
In spite of the vast amount of experimental data on hand to
show how the size of the seed piece affects yields, growers in
general continue to exercise laxity in supervision of the cutting.
A brief survey of some of the more important literature on the
subject will serve to emphasize the importance of this phase
of the planting procedure. Arthur (2), in Indiana, found many
years ago that the number of sprouts is a direct function of
the weight of the seed piece, and that the weight is more im-
portant than the number of eyes. Bushnell (6), discussing
tests in Ohio, writes that "it is well known that it is possible
to cut pieces so small that they cannot support vigorous sprouts,
but it appears from the study of number of sprouts that the
economical and practical procedure is to cut seed into pieces
as small as can be relied upon to produce vigorous sprouts, and
then to adapt the spacing of the hills to this minimum size
piece." Bushnell in a later publication (7) cites a number of






34 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

workers whose data show that if seed is cheap, 2-ounce pieces
may prove profitable, but if it is relatively expensive there is
no advantage in using pieces larger than an ounce. He states
that the use of pieces weighing about an ounce appears to be
widely adopted as a farm practice throughout the East where
certified seed is commonly used. In the West the use of larger
pieces is common. Pieper, Burlison and Flint (33) in Illinois,
state that "while many experiments have shown that larger
seed pieces give higher total yields than smaller seed pieces, the
planting of exceedingly large pieces is not justified because of
the very large amount of seed that is necessary and the low
percentage of marketable tubers in the crop produced.". They
further advise that in cutting the tuber, a blocky seed piece is
preferred to a long thin one. The blocky seed piece handles better
in planting and loses less moisture. Johnson and Rosa (26)
found in Virginia that the use of 2/4 ounce whole tubers was
not profitable at any time, that 2 ounce seed tubers gave best
results at the early harvest, that in the medium and late harvests
11/2 ounce tubers gave slightly better yields. The use of very
small tubers or small cut pieces resulted in a much reduced
yield.







..- .- .- .... ..











Fig. 8.-Cutting seed potatoes on a Hastings farm.

Machine cutting is practiced to some extent. Although this
method is certainly faster than hand cutting (Fig. 8), uniformity
of size of seed pieces is often sacrificed, and with large tubers






Potato Growing in Florida 35

especially, the number of blanks (pieces without eyes) some-
times runs quite high, resulting in poor stands.
Any consideration of the effect of size of seed piece on
resultant yield must take into account its spacing in the row.
Stuart (36) sums up the experimental situation very well. "It
is a fact," he states, "that most of the experimental work that
has been done on size of seed piece has not taken into account
a study of the most economical distance or spacing of the various
sizes of seed pieces in the row. There is no question but that
much of the apparent superiority of large over small sizes of
seed pieces has been due to the fact that the spacing of the
pieces in the row have more nearly approached the most econom-
ical distance for the large-sized seed piece than of the smaller
one."
Many Florida potato growers pay special attention to the
number of eyes on the seed piece when cutting the seed. Some
prefer two or three eyes per piece, and others only one. Since
it has so often been shown in other states that yield is influenced
mainly by the size of the seed piece irrespective of the number
of eyes, the matter of number of eyes becomes of less importance,
unless, of course, the size of seed piece becomes so small (less
than one ounce) as to normally provide no eyes at all. It is
true, also, that some varieties have more eyes than others, and
the size of seed piece best adapted to one variety may not suit
another.
Experiments have been initiated in Florida to determine the
proper size and spacing of seed pieces for our conditions. Wolfe
and Fifield (1), in preliminary experiments at Homestead, have
shown that 1 to 11/ ounce seed pieces spaced 9 to 12 inches
apart in the row have thus far proven most economical. Their
work with the Bliss Triumph variety is being continued. The
size and spacing mentioned requires approximately 20 to 24
bushels of seed per acre, when planted in 36 inch rows. In the
Hastings area, where the Spaulding Rose variety is grown, 1 to
11/2 ounce seed pieces are spaced from 12 to 16 inches apart
in the row, with a 12 to 14 inch spacing most common. This
method of planting requires about 15 bushels to the acre, planted
in 40 to 42 inch rows, as is the custom in that area. Blocky
pieces are preferred. The practice of planting whole seed of
about 11/ ounce weight (No. 2 size) is used to some extent in
all parts of the state. For adverse weather conditions it is
probably superior to cut seed, other factors being the same. It
has come to the writer's attention that some growers, particu-






36 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

larly in the Everglades area, use whole seed which is too small
for economical results. In most instances anything smaller than
a No. 3 tuber will not produce a vigorous plant.
Florida growers ordinarily do not dust their cut seed pieces
with sulfur or lime as is sometimes practiced in other states.
If seed is wet from rain, or freshly cut, sulfur or lime is occa-
sionally used to prevent the seed pieces from adhering to each
other in the planter. It is agreed by nearly all growers that
seed is best cut within one day of planting. Two days' difference
is the limit allowed by the most successful growers.
PLANTING
Time of planting is another important factor in the economic
phase of potato growing in Florida. The influence of environ-
mental factors as affecting the time of planting has already been
discussed. Ordinarily the earlier plantings in the main potato
growing areas bring the highest returns per bushel. Frequently,
however, the early plantings are not the most profitable, because
unfavorable climatic factors and other detrimental influences
occur. Approximate planting dates of representative counties
are presented in Table 2.
Whether plantings are made on ridges or at ground level
is a matter more of soil moisture and drainage than of locality.
On the lower flatwoods soils, as found in the Hastings area,
potatoes are nearly always planted on ridges. In many sections
of the state planting is done on ridges to protect early crops
from being drowned out from excessively heavy rains in the
fall, when later plantings in the same area are planted level.
Plantings on muck soil are seldom made on ridges. In the West
Coast area, ridges are thrown up in the low areas, and frequently
in the fields equipped for irrigation. Sometimes a double row
is planted on each ridge. On the Lower East Coast, potatoes
usually are planted on ridges on the sandy soils of eastern Palm
Beach and Brevard counties, but on the marl of Dade County
only extremely early plantings are made on ridges. Nearly all
potatoes in the Central Florida counties are planted on ridges.
As a general rule seed pieces are planted deeper on the higher
and drier soils. Practices in this regard differ considerably with-
in a community, as shown in a survey by the author (16) in
Dade County. He found that some growers planted at ground
level and others from 1 to 3 inches deep with the majority from
1 to 2 inches. Ensign (15) conducted tests over a three-year
period at Hastings and found that yields showed no direct cor-







Potato Growing in Florida 37

relation with depth of planting, but rather that the probability
of securing higher yields from shallow plantings in years of
adequate soil moisture is greater than during dry seasons. Too
great firming of the soil appeared undesirable when there was
sufficient moisture to insure germination.
For a general statement of depth of planting in Florida, it
could be said that most growers plant from 1 to 3 inches deep,
with practices varying in each community with type of soil and
preference of the grower.










..A.' -.



-A'-



Fig. 9.-Mule-drawn planters are used in North Florida.

Rows are spaced from 30 to 42 inches apart. Where planting
is on ridges rows are normally a little farther apart than where
planting is done at ground level. A further consideration of the
spacing of rows must take into account the machinery used in
the cultural work. Some tractors, planters, dusters and spray
machines operate better at some widths than others. In Manatee
County, where the double row system is sometimes used, ridges
are made so as to plant rows 2 feet apart on the ridge, with
about 42 inches between outer rows of adjacent ridges. In the
Hastings area 40 to 42 inch rows are common, while on the marl
soils of Dade County, rows are usually spaced 36 to 38 inches.
Machine planters are used almost exclusively in the Hastings
and Homestead areas, even for the smaller acreages. In other
parts of the state machine planters are used only on the larger
farms. Both the picker and conveyor types are in use, drawn






38 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

with either mule or tractor power. Tractor-drawn planters are
used generally in the South Florida areas, and to an increasing
extent in the Hastings area, although mule-drawn planters are
still a common sight (Fig. 9) in North Florida.
CULTIVATION
The principal object of cultivation is weed control. The belief
that a shallow dust mulch on the surface of the ground aids in
retention of soil moisture has been in most instances over-
emphasized. Perhaps certain types of soil respond favorably
to this treatment, but the value of cultivating in Florida is
thought to lie rather in retarding weed growth than in moisture
retention.
Whether hilling or level cultivation is more desirable depends
upon the nature of the soil, the temperature, the depth of plant-
ing and upon the likelihood of heavy rains. On heavy, moist
soils, particularly in cool weather, hilling has the advantage of
keeping the soil well drained and somewhat warmer. Hilling
also helps prevent washing of the dirt from the tubers and the
consequent exposure to sunburn. On the heavier types of soil,
and in wet weather, the digging operation is easier with the crop
in hills than where level cultivation has been practiced.
Very probably, however, many growers hill their potatoes
higher than is necessary. High hilling requires closer cultiva-
tion which in turn tends to damage the roots and vines. Ex-
periences of a number of successful growers indicate that a
minimum of cultivation consistent with efficient weed control
gives best results from a yield standpoint. Unfortunately, in
many fields Bermuda grass, nut grass, and other persistent weeds
necessitate more cultivation than in fields less troubled. Even
in cases of persistent weed growth, this is preferable to cultiva-
tion late in the season when there is usually more damage to
vines and root growth from cultivators than from weed growth.
Thorough and intelligent preparation of the land prior to plant-
ing will obviate the necessity of a large amount of cultivation
afterwards.
Potato fields are sometimes cultivated level in West Florida,
but in the main producing areas and nearly all other sections of
the state, hilling is generally practiced. The first cultivation
procedure usually consists of leveling off the tops of the ridges
left by the planter. This tends to bring the plants through the
ground quicker and prevent them from coming through the side
of the hill. This operation is followed in a few days by weeding.






Potato Growing in Florida 41

in contact with it will be killed. Application, therefore, is in the
nature of a preventive, and should be made before the disease
is evident.
Control of potato diseases and insects has been discussed in
publications by other workers of the Florida Agricultural Experi-
ment Station, and for further and more complete information
reference is made to Gratz (23) and to Watson (39). There is
a further reference available through the United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture by Link and Ramsey (28).

HARVESTING
Potato varieties now grown in Florida are ready for digging
within from 85 to 120 days after planting. Bliss Triumph and
Spaulding Rose are dug ordinarily at from 90 to 100 days. Dig-
ging before the vines are dead is not usually desirable, because
the skins have not thickened properly and a high percentage of
skinned areas, cracks, digger cuts, and bruises are incurred,
providing excellent chances for rot development in transit. On
the other hand, a higher market price at the beginning of the
season sometimes offsets the risk from decay in transit. It is
often necessary to pull tubers from green vines, whereas they
separate easily from dead vines during the digging process, par-
ticularly with machine diggers. Potatoes can be left in the
ground several weeks after the vines die without rotting, if the
ground is relatively cool and not too wet.















iT

Fig. 10.-One-row traction digger operating in a Dade County field which
yielded over 300 bushels of Bliss Triumph potatoes to the acre.






42 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Potatoes dug in wet weather show a tendency to develop more
rot in transit than those dug in dry weather. Very often these
wet potatoes are left stacked in the packing-house for several
days before grading. If conditions were such that they could
be thoroughly dried first, no doubt the development of rot could
be greatly retarded. Furthermore, after a rain the ground be-
comes soggy and muddy and, especially in the Hastings area, the
machine diggers do not function properly. Growers in this area
then resort to hand digging with potato forks.
A large acreage is still dug entirely by hand in the Hastings
area, although many machine diggers are also used. In the
Homestead area machine diggers are used exclusively for the
commercial acreage. In other areas of the state machine diggers
are used only on the larger farms.
Various types of diggers are in use. One- and two-row ma-
chines (Figs. 1 and 10) of both the traction and power take-off
type are used. Some are driven from gasoline motors mounted
on the diggers. The type used depends entirely upon individual
preference and previous equipment on hand. Before purchasing
a machine digger, or any other potato machinery, the prospective
buyer should seek the opinion of other operators in the locality
in which he intends to use his equipment.

















Fig. 11.-A harvest scene in the Hastings area.

The digger when functioning properly will leave the potatoes
on top of the ground (Fig. 1). They are then gathered by hand
into wire baskets or galvanized buckets and poured into barrels,






Potato Growing in Florida 39

Regular potato weeders are employed, some being drawn both
across the ridges and lengthwise, and others being used only
lengthwise in the row. Where high hilling is employed the
weeder is not always used. After the plants are well through
the ground, disc hillers or middle-breaker plows are used to
throw dirt to the plants. The size of the hill and number of
cultivations vary with individual needs and preferences. The
last cultivation is usually done with shovel cultivators (sweeps)
or with a middle-breaker. In the Hastings-LaCrosse area mule
power is largely used, with two-horse riding cultivators most
frequently employed. In South Florida most of the work is done
with tractors, some of which have been designed especially for
potato farming. These latter have cultivator attachments fitted
directly to the tractor, and perform very efficiently when proper-
ly handled.
The plants are "laid-by" (that is, receive their last cultivation)
before the vines grow so close together in the middles that they
would be injured by the cultivators. In the northern part of
the state many growers who dig with hand rakes plant corn on
one side of the hill at the last cultivation. At digging time the
dirt is pulled to the corn. Other growers do not plant the corn
until the digging has been completed. Only a few growers in
South Florida follow their potato crop with corn.

SPRAYING AND DUSTING
More needless expense is involved in the operations of spraying
and dusting, through a lack of knowledge of the principles of
their application, than in probably any other farm operation.
Spraying involves the application of fungicides and insecticides
in liquid form. The term dusting infers that these materials
are applied in a dry, or powdered state. These definitions are
given here because in some sections, notably in the Hastings
area, the term spraying is applied locally to the operation of
dusting. Comparatively little liquid spray is used in North
Florida, and even in other parts of the state dusting is more
commonly employed for the larger potato plantings.
The fungicidal dust most commonly used is a copper-lime dust,
and more growers are using the 20-80 formula than any other
at the present time. For chewing insects (Colorado potato
beetles) lead arsenate or paris green is added, and for sucking
insects (aphids) nicotine sulfate or tobacco dust is used, all
materials being mixed with the copper-lime dust for application.
Since dust is applied dry, and since it requires some moisture to






40 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

dissolve it over the surface of the leaves, dusting for blight
control is best done while the plants are wet with dew, which
condition exists in early morning before the sun dries the plants.
There should be no wind. Some growers believe it best to wait
until the dew has been dried from the upper leaf surfaces,
permitting the fungicide to dissolve only on the undersurface.
Others dust at night and early morning, with dew on both
surfaces, with apparently equal success. The practice of dusting
after a rain is not generally followed, seemingly because rain
water does not adhere as uniformly to the leaves as dew.
Dusting is performed with all manner of equipment ranging
from small hand dusters to large specially designed power dust-
ers. Power dusters usually are more efficient, since they force
dust into crevices and thick growth, and provide a more uniform
coverage. Nearly all commercial growers who apply dust do
so with power dusters. Modern tractors developed for potato
farming permit the mounting of the duster directly on the trac-
tor. The practice of dusting potato fields by aeroplane has been
introduced recently into Florida, and for situations in which the
grower is sure the operation can be performed economically, the
method shows considerable promise.
The most extensively used spray is bordeaux mixture. Many
different formulas of bordeaux are being used. In Dade County
the author (16) found a wide variation in formulas used, includ-
ing 5-6-50, 4-5-50, 31/2-6-50, 5-5-50, 41/2-41/2-50 and 4-4-50. Per-
haps if a formula were selected to represent the common practice
throughout the state, it would be either 4-4-50 or 5-5-50, with
stone or quick lime. If hydrated or slaked lime is used, half
as much again is required as of stone lime. The insecticides
mentioned in the paragraph above, for both chewing and sucking
insects, can be dissolved and added to the spray solution. Spray
should be applied only when the vines are dry. As is the case
with dusting, all manner of equipment is used for spraying. The
knapsack sprayer is occasionally used for small fields, but in the
principal potato growing areas many makes of machines up to
6- and 10-row power sprayers are employed.
Dusting has an advantage over spraying in that it is an easier
and quicker operation. However, spraying with home-made bor-
deaux mixture is generally cheaper, and tests in Florida (23)
have shown that it is the more efficient fungicide. Certainly it
can be applied efficiently under conditions where dust cannot.
The fundamental principle of applying fungicides is to provide
such a protective coating to the leaf surface that disease spores






Potato Growing in Florida 43

sacks (Fig. 11), or field boxes (Fig. 12) for hauling from the
field to the grader. Usually colored men and women are em-
ployed for picking up the potatoes and are ordinarily paid by
the sack or box. In the Hastings area, when the crop is dug by
hand, most operators contract labor to dig and pick up at so
much a sack. In some sections all labor is hired by the day.
The grower should expect to pay higher wages during the harvest
season, when demand for labor is at its peak.
















Fig. 12.-Harvesting potatoes on a large farm in the Homestead area.
A statement of what might be considered a normal yield is
subject to so many qualifications and variations that any figures.
given will be open to dispute. As an indication it might be said
that ordinary yields of No. 1 potatoes in the Hastings area,
where the Spaulding Rose variety is grown, run from 100 to 150
bushels (35 to 50 barrels) per acre. In Dade County, where
Bliss Triumph is grown, ordinary yields run from 175 to 225
bushels to the acre. Normal yields in the Everglades vary from
250 to 400 bushels per acre. It should be realized that these
figures are based on average estimates for a normal growing
season.
GRADING AND PACKING
There is no longer any question in the minds of experienced
growers that grading is worth while. A large part of the Florida
potato crop is now graded and packed in commercial packing
houses but many growers and shippers still grade their crop
in the field. About 30 percent of the Hastings crop is handled
through the Hastings Potato Growers' Association. Of this,







44 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

more than half is graded and packed in the packinghouses of
the Association. There are at least six other modern packing-
houses in the Hastings area which also handle a large percentage
of the crop. Some growers have a portion of their barns fitted
as a small packinghouse and a few others set up their grading
equipment in the field. Packinghouse equipment usually is most
efficient from the standpoint of washing and handling.
In South Florida nearly all the crop is prepared for northern
shipment in commercial packinghouses. The South Florida Po-
tato Growers' Association at Goulds handles part of the crop,
and there are several other packinghouses in the Homestead area
handling a large volume.
Nearly all of the South Florida crop is washed before being
graded, and at the present time the tendency of most growers
in the Hastings area is to wash, particularly after rains have
occurred near digging time. After the washing process, culls
are removed by hand, and the remaining tubers pass on to the
grading chains or sizers, where standard sized openings auto-
matically separate the various sizes. At Hastings the crop is
packed in 11-peck barrels or sacks and in bushel boxes, with the
larger percentage going into barrels and sacks. As a rule, the
type of package is governed by the buyer's specifications. In the
Homestead and other South Florida areas, almost the entire crop
is moved in boxes and sacks, with bushel boxes predominating.
Barrels are seldom used in the southern part of the state.
Florida market grades and standards are the same as those
adopted by the Federal Government. Nearly all Florida ship-
ments, however, are limited to potatoes of the No. 1 and No. 2
grade. Culls and smaller potatoes are utilized largely for stock
feed, particularly in the Hastings area.
Since 1927 the Florida State Marketing Bureau, in cooperation
with the United States Department of Agriculture, has main-
tained a system known as shipping point inspection. Duly ap-
pointed inspectors are sent to shipping points at the request of
the shipper, who pays a specified fee for such inspection. The
inspector is authorized to issue a certificate stating that the
particular carload shipment in question is packed in conformity
with grades specified. These certificates are accepted as prima
facie evidence in Florida and Federal courts, and in all states
which have officially adopted the Federal market grade stand-
ards. This shipping point inspection for grade and condition
offers possibilities in the disposal of Florida's potato crop, since
many transactions must be carried on by wire over long distances






Potato Growing in Florida 45

with the purchaser on the other end having no opportunity of
seeing the potatoes until they arrive. It is now carried on for
potatoes only in the South Florida areas.
A full discussion of the shipping point inspection service, of
the official United States and Florida standards for the grading
of potatoes, and of general facts pertinent to other phases of
grading and shipping Florida produce will be found in a recent
publication by Ensign (12).

MARKETING

The Florida crop is sold in several ways. A few growers sel
locally to buyers, others ship individually on consignment, many
sell through independent dealers who have helped finance the
crop, and a larger portion market their crop cooperatively.
At Hastings the crop is marketed through the Hastings Po-
tato Growers' Association and through other independent mar-
keting agencies and dealers in the area. For years, Hastings
potatoes have had a broad outlet in the East and Middle West,
and ordinarily a very large percentage of the crop is sold f.o.b.
shipping point, subject to satisfactory arrival of the potatoes at
"the other end." Rarely do buyers pay cash f.o.b. shipping
point. During the 1934-35 season, the Hastings crop was so
uncertain, due to an unusually adverse growing season, that
more than the usual amount was sold on consignment. Fertilizer,
seed, containers and an advance for digging may be furnished
the grower by the various marketing agencies. An advance of
$10 to $12 an acre also usually is made for growing the crop.
When the crop is marketed the dealer who has financed the
grower deducts these expenses.
A recent publication by Hamilton and Brooker (24) describes
in detail the methods used by the Hastings Potato Growers'
Association in handling the crop produced by its members.
Independent shippers handle the largest percentage of the
crop volume in the Homestead area at the present time. There
is more individual capital utilized by potato farmers in South
Florida where the average farm acreage is probably greater
than that at Hastings. A large number of growers in South
Florida are farmers from Northern states who move temporarily
to Florida, in most cases bringing their farm machinery with
them, grow a winter crop, and return north in time to plant a
spring crop there. There is more "transient" farming of this
type in South Florida than in the northern part of the state, due







46 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

largely to the fact that the crop can be grown earlier in the
season.
The relation of production of potatoes to price was studied
in the Hastings area by McKinley (29) in 1928. He writes as
follows:
"The prices received by the growers who marketed
through the Hastings Potato Growers' Association were
available for the five-year period 1923 to 1927, inclusive.
The production of Florida potatoes for the same period is
compared with the price received. In 1924 there was an
increase of 46 percent in production of Florida potatoes over
1923, with a decrease of less than 2 percent in price. In
1925 the production was about 12 percent higher than in
1924, but the price was 27 percent below that of the pre-
ceding year. With practically no change in production in
1926 the price was double that received in 1925. The pro-
duction in 1927 was but 7.5 percent above the 1926 produc-
tion, whereas the price was reduced approximately 42 per-
cent from the preceding year.
"Contrary to what one might expect, there seems to be
no correlation between production and price of Florida po-
tatoes. Evidently the supply of potatoes from other areas
has a much greater effect upon the Florida price than does
the size of its own crop."
The larger portion of Florida's crop moves northward by rail,
but during recent years shipments by boat and truck have in-
creased to a very considerable extent.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author has called freely upon county agricultural agents throughout
the state for data relative to the individual counties. Data for Lee County
were kindly furnished by E. M. Ballard of Fort Myers. Joe Norfleet,
vocational agricultural instructor at Hastings, generously allowed the
writer access to his potato project records. Acknowledgment is gratefully
made to the following who not only assisted with information, but also
critically read the manuscript: Dr. A. H. Eddins, Dr. H. S. Wolfe, Dr.
G. R. Townsend, Dr. F. S. Jamison and Dr. A. F. Camp of the Experiment
Station staff; the late M. R. Ensign, formerly with the Experiment Station;
Loonis Blitch and Charles Steffani, county agents respectively of St. Johns
and Dade counties; and Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Vick, D. P. Blake, J. E. Gauzens,
and F. A. Johns, growers.
The author also wishes to thank G. W. Lee, L. 0. Larson, E. S. Miles
and Dyer Barnum, all of Hastings, for furnishing additional information
incorporated in the manuscript. C. W. Maltley, of G. W. Waller, Inc.,
kindly furnished the photograph for Fig. 11.







Potato Growing in Florida 47

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48 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

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