Potatoes make up a large proportion of our food, and learning how potatoes reproduce is fascinating. This is due to the variety they offer and their ability to combine with numerous food products.
This article discusses how these potatoes reproduce so you have an uninterrupted supply of potatoes on your table. Several methods carry out the reproduction of potatoes. These may include:
The article provides critical insight into these processes.
Asexual reproduction is a process that the majority is familiar with. However, few know that asexual reproduction occurs in humans and plants. It is an essential process for plant reproduction. Therefore, studying asexual reproduction in agriculture is of significant importance.
This process enables faster production on a broader scale. Potatoes undergo asexual reproduction through vegetative reproduction. The process of vegetative reproduction is similar to budding. Forming tubers, runners, and bulbs is part of vegetative reproduction.
Potatoes are tubers that grow small leaves with buds on their surface. These buds can grow into a new plant with the same genes as its parent. Due to the same genes, all potatoes are identical. Already existing root or stem leads to the formation of new offspring.
The part where a potato grows is known as its ‘eyes.’ New stems first grow into a structure called sprouts and then into a new plant. Farmers cut the whole potato into small pieces or chunks. Each piece should have at least one eye.
These chunks are planted in the ground. The eyes start growing roots and sprouts; eventually, they grow flowers too. An advantage of asexual reproduction is that it can produce an identical end product to the parent plant. Therefore, this process reduces the effort to maintain quality.
This process is similar to that of budding. However, potatoes are tubers, where an offspring plant grows from an established root stem.
Sexual reproduction, which is most common in animals, is also a significant part of plant reproduction. Like animals, plants bear gametes (male gametes and female ovules). The offspring produced will have qualities present in its parent. As for potatoes, they first undergo the process of pollination to produce sexually.
Self-pollination occurs when the male and female flowers are on the same plant. Insects or the wind carry the pollens from the male part of the flower to that of the female. To make pollination easy, these pollens are very light in weight which the wind can carry. Potato plants are also very attractive to insects, which help in pollination.
The cells involved in the sexual reproduction of potatoes are known as sexual seeds. First, cultivators produce the fruits. These fruits contain many tiny seeds (approximately 300 per fruit). When the potato plant undergoes pollination (usually self-pollination), the pollens having chromosomes (along with genes) land on sexual seeds.
The seeds grow into proper potato plants with their unique characteristics. The growers do not usually favor sexual reproduction in potatoes because the new plant can vary. It can differ from the parent plant, and its quality is unpredictable.
Wild potatoes are a species that is quite different from domestically grown potatoes. There are more than 100 types of wild potatoes growing worldwide. The Andes and the mountains of central Mexico are the largest producers of wild potatoes. Although wild potatoes usually appear to be very small compared to domestically grown ones, some species are much larger than domesticated potatoes.
It is advised not to eat these potatoes due to their high toxicity (Glycoalkaloid content). Propagation occurs similarly to that of domesticated potatoes. Wild potatoes also produce asexually through vegetative reproduction and sexually via seeds. Cultivators often prefer to grow wild potatoes sexually rather than asexually.
You can store the seeds for a long time. But as for asexual reproduction, you must grow the tubers yearly. The tubers are also not adaptable to the harsh climate outdoors, while the seeds can easily survive in cold temperatures. Wild potatoes produce flowers abundantly; therefore, sexual reproduction takes place.
Although most potato growers produce fruit, some are pollen sterile, so they fail to produce fruit for some reason. And even if they reach the fruiting stage, the fruit produced is usually too small (up to 1.25″) in diameter. Additionally, these fruits are green-colored and resemble potatoes.
Fruits bear the actual seeds of a potato plant. They have around 300 seeds for every fruit. Potato plant usually reproduces through self-pollination. This means that the chromosomes are randomly dispersed amongst the seeds.
Every seed will develop in a plant that has its unique characteristics. Although this method is helpful in crop improvement programs, its genotypic variation is of little value to those who cultivate it. A new plant could differ significantly from the parent or mother plant.
This phenomenon is problematic for the growers as they lose uniformity in their products. However, the end product you obtain from reproduction through botanical seed is disease-free. This can be an encouraging factor in potato production. However, large-scale producers refrain from this reproduction method due to its genotypic variation limitations.
You can also store these seeds in limited space.
Tissue culture in plants refers to culturing plant cells or tissues in controlled and well-observed aseptic conditions. This also requires a solid or liquid medium that works as a platform for the process. The process has great value in the fields of research besides potato production. At the same time, this process develops disease-free micro vegetative propagation plants.
The process, therefore, has significant commercial value. The following paragraph illustrates the importance and methodology of tissue culture linked with potato reproduction on a larger, industrial scale.
This can be referred to as a modern reproduction technique used by many advanced entities. Tissue culture allows a rapid fast-paced reproduction of potatoes. In conventional tube reproduction, one tuber yields around eight daughter tubers in a growing season. However, the tissue culture can produce 100,000 identical plantlets within 8 months.
When moved to the field, this plantlet can produce 50 MT of potatoes. Every plant comes with a separate root system and growth points. An apical meristem is located at the apex of a potato stem. Each bud has a meristem that enables the plantlet to become a different plant. Under this reproduction process, one can grow disease-free and healthy plantlets in test tubes on a nutrient media that can sometimes be soil or water.
You can make every plantlet into smaller 3 to 10 nodal sections. Then place every new cutting inside a test tube. To maintain a particular aseptic environment for the plants, you must sterilize every instrument used for the culturing. This is important as it keeps the air, surface, and floor free from disease-carrying microorganisms and dust particles.
Hence, one carries out all operations under a laminar airflow sterile cabinet. Once they achieve the desired plantlets, they place the test tube plants in sterile soil to complete their remaining growth cycle. You can keep the plants in the culture room for around 15 days.
After which, these seedlings are then sold to the potato growers.
The size and quality of your harvest might greatly vary depending on your timing when planting your potatoes. And the leading cause of potato growth issues is planting potatoes too early or too late. This entails planting seed potatoes in the spring in areas with temperate climates.
The weather must also start to warm, and the ground must be clear of water and frost. According to conventional knowledge, plants should be “earthed up” around 9 inches tall.
To achieve this, the earth must be raised around the plants to a height of roughly 5 inches. Instead, I surround the plants’ bases with thick organic mulch. Water is also essential for potatoes, especially as the tubers start to form. For optimum results, choose the ideal time to harvest your crop.
When a plant blooms, it typically means that the first early varieties are available for harvest.
And at this stage, you should pick the tubers when they resemble hen’s eggs in size, a technique that also works when incorporating potatoes into a hydroponic or aquaponic system.
The bottom line is that you can grow potatoes on a small and large scale according to the yield required. They reproduce sexually, asexually, and also in the wild. Each yield of potatoes can be very different in taste and quality. They also might have different disease immunities.
For instance, the potatoes grown from tissue-cultured seeds are disease-free since the meristems don’t have a vascular system, making them less prone to disease-causing microorganisms. Moreover, you can reproduce potatoes through botanic seed.
But the diversity in its end product is a factor considered by the producers who opt for it. The growth of potatoes in the wild is more of a natural phenomenon. These can be larger or smaller than the potatoes grown as tubers.
Therefore, after diving into the reproduction of potatoes, it is clear that the ways they reproduce more than one; this perfectly sits in with the fact that they have multiple uses once they reach your table.