Potato Balls

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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