Potato ‘Clancy’ Grown from Actual Seed

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Potato ‘Clancy’, an All-American Selections (AAS) Edible Award Winner for 2019, is a blush- to red-skinned potato grown from seed.

Okay, hold on. Wait just a minute. A potato from seed? Potatoes are usually grown from a “seed potato,” a.k.a. a tuber—typically from a previous crop—that will sprout when buried and grow into a new potato plant. If you took that old potato from the back of your fridge, the one that is starting to shrivel and has started to produce some whitish elongated growths from little dimples, and planted it, you’d get a whole new potato plant. That’s how commercial potato farmers have been growing potatoes for years. I should know—I grew up on a farm where my family had been growing potatoes for three generations or more. And all the potato crops were grown from “seed potatoes.”

But here we have in Potato ‘Clancy’ a potato that is grown from actual seed. That’s novel, indeed. But why grow from seed when seed potatoes have been the norm? One advantage of actual seed is that it’s sterile. That eliminates one potential avenue of disease entering the crop. Another benefit is seeds are easier to store, don’t take up so much space and can be stored for a longer period than seed potato tubers.

Bred by Bejo Seeds, the potato seed itself is about the size of a dry kernel of quinoa. The breeder suggests treating them as you would their cousin the tomato: Sow them in trays under lights indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost. The seeds easily germinate, the AAS judges say, and you’d plant the ensuing transplants into the garden along with your tomato transplants. From there, treat them as you would a potato that you planted as a tuber and emerged from the ground; that is, mounding soil around them every so often as they grow taller. The judges had also tested Potato ‘Clancy’ in containers and said that was a totally appropriate way to grow this variety. Likely that’s because the plant itself grows only 2-3 ft. tall and wide. Other typical potato growing techniques apply: The like dry to normal soil, full sun and warm temperatures.

As for the harvest, which comes in about 90-110 days, one AAS judge comments that the harvest produced three to four “decent-sized” tubers (about 4-5 inches round) and about eight to 12 grape-sized tubers per plant. The reddish skin hides white flesh underneath which, when cooked, has a light texture appropriate for boiling and mashing. One judge claimed Potato ‘Clancy’ was like a mashup of a yellow-fleshed potato and a russet.

They judges also said growing ‘Clancy’ from actual seed was fun! I can imagine that. Having only experienced growing a crop one way, it’s kind of cool to suddenly be able to grow it differently. The likelihood that my brother the potato farmer will switch to seed is not high at all. However, I’m excited to give my ‘Clancy’ potato seeds a try at the end of March.

Thank you, All-America Selections, for the use of this photo of ‘Clancy’.

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