I find in potato writings of forty years ago that the seed from the
potato balls which form on the tops of the plants is recommended for
growing the best potatoes. In later books I find no mention of them and
all are advised how to cut the tubers to get seed potatoes.
The seed of the potato plant which is found in the "balls" which develop
on the tops of the plant is only valuable for the origination of new
varieties, with the chance, of course, that most of them will be
inferior to the tubers produced by the plant which bears the seed.
Therefore, these seeds are of no commercial importance. There has also
sometimes developed upon the top of the plant what is called an aerial
tuber, which is even of less value than the seed ball, because it does
not contain seed nor is it good as a tuber.
Forty years ago there was a great demand for newer and better kinds of
potatoes which has, since that time, been largely supplied, and
commercial potato-growing consists in multiplying the standard varieties
which best suit the soil and the market. This is done by planting the
tuber itself, which is really a root-cutting and therefore reproduces
its own kind. Those who are originating new kinds of potatoes still use
seed from the balls, either taking their chances by natural variation
or, by hybridizing the blossoms, increasing the chances for variation
from which desirable varieties are taken by selection, to be afterward
multiplied by growth from the tubers.
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