We used to chit our potatoes in an unheated spare bedroom where the lowest temperature was about 12 degrees. The windows faced north so we never got strong sunlight in there although it was quite light. Never had a problem and the potatoes chitted really well.
This year they’re chitting in my shed. The windows face south and temperatures can rise quite quickly in the sunshine. In the cold, the temperature can drop quite quickly. Not ideal but we don’t have a spare bedroom anymore and the shed was the best we could do.
Now I’ve had a couple of emails similar to this one about chitting potatoes rotting:
Seed Potatoes Rotting
“Just as my seed potatoes are starting to sprout some of them are rotting. Several of them smell terrible and there is a horrible liquid starting to ooze out. This afternoon I discovered the problem and I have got rid of about 6 affected potatoes. I suspect the problem is infectious and I shall lose more potatoes. Until a couple of weeks ago I was keeping the potatoes in a rather chilly garage and very little chitting was happening. I moved them to an unheated bedroom and the sprouts started to grow immediately.
Please could you or one of your members tell me if I should get rid of the lot and buy some more, or if I should plant those that still seem alright. Also can you tell me if the rotting is to do with how I have stored them, or if they could have been infected before I got them. They are Lady Christl earlies and Desiree main crop”
Now I have to admit to not being certain but I reckon it’s been the cold snap that’s caused the problem. The potatoes became a bit frosted which caused damage to the cells with the ice crystals piercing the cell walls etc. This allows infection to take hold and pretty soon the problem is obvious.
I’ve just disposed of the rotten ones and am keeping a close eye on the rest. I think the mild winter with a cold snap has been the cause of the problem. Normally we defend against sub-zero temperatures but this year they didn’t really hit until most of us (well me at least) had given up worrying – hence frosted potatoes and the problem.
So my advice is dispose of the rotten ones, watch the rest closely but don’t throw them unless the disease spreads. I’d really welcome other opinions though – especially if you think I’m wrong as to the cause.