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Seed potatoes – To Chit or not to Chit?

spuds

Once you have bought your seed potatoes the question is whether or not you need to chit them and this is a question that has been long debated. We at Suttons believe it to be vital with first early and second early varieties and still a good idea, although not essential, with main crop varieties.

By chitting your seed potatoes you are giving them a head start which will result in an earlier, slightly improved harvest.

So what is chitting?
Chitting is the process of encouraging seed potatoes to produce sturdy sprouts before planting. This sprouting process is speeded up by giving the seed potatoes plenty of light and warmth and the result will be an earlier and slightly better harvest.

How do you chit potatoes?
Chitting should begin about 6 weeks before planting so from late January. Planting will be when the soil is starting to warm up so between mid-March to early April, dependant on where you live.

Seed potatoes in a chitting tray

Seed potatoes have a blunt end, called the rose end, with eyes from which the sprouts will form. Place the potatoes singly in the sections of old egg boxes or in seed trays, in a single layer, with the rose end uppermost. Then place them in a light, frost free room such as a spare bedroom or greenhouse.

Ideally the sprouts should remain small, about 2.5cm long, and knobbly and be a green/purple colour. If they grow long and white then there is insufficient light. Too many sprouts will result in small potatoes, you really only need 2 to 3 sprouts with earlies and 3 to 4 with main crop varieties.  Any extra sprouts can be carefully rubbed off although some gardeners prefer to cut them out with a sharp knife to prevent them re-sprouting.

Planting your seed potatoes
When the time for planting arrives do handle the potatoes with care. You don’t want to knock off any of those sturdy sprouts!

Planting Seed Potatoes

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11 thoughts on “Seed potatoes – To Chit or not to Chit?”

  1. Katie Brunt Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Rosemary, now is a great time to plant early potatoes!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  2. My potatoes are now chatted, today I shall plant them ( earlies) is it too early to pop in the ground.

  3. Katie Brunt Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Alfred, no watering necessary for chitting potatoes, the energy comes from the tubers themselves to produce the shoots. Keep them dry and standing in a tray not touching each other, in a bright position.
    We hope this helps and good luck with your potatoes!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  4. Avatar Alfred Rooney says:

    Do potatoes need watering whilst chitting?

  5. Katie Brunt Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Chris, your potatoes should be fine. Rub off the weakest shoots and keep 4 per tuber, plant as soon as ground not waterlogged or frozen. We hope this helps!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  6. Avatar Chris Musgrave says:

    My potatoes have chatted about six weeks early with very big roots what should I do now,or will they still be ok

  7. Avatar Rod says:

    I’ve just had seed potatoes Desiree and they haven’t got any sprouts chits on them so can I plant them anyway or do I need to tray them and wait but seems too late

  8. Avatar Web Developer says:

    Hi Gareth, sorry for the delay, if they are longer than 8-10cm then we would recommend knocking them off. however if under this and they do not look damaged then you can treat them as already chitted. We hope this helps

  9. Avatar GARETH SHARPE says:

    I have just opened my 5 seed potato pack to start chitting. They all have white shoots on them suggesting lack of light. Do I knock them off or leave as they are?

  10. Avatar Teresa Mclean says:

    Well I’ve learned something from that – I wondered why my spuds were so small this year, I assumed I had not watered correctly. I will look out for a surplus of chits this year.

  11. Buying potato seed should only be a one-time-purchase in my opinion. You should always chit them when the right time comes.

    Cheers.

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