Chitting (Pre-Sprouting) Potatoes for a Head Start

Some folks will eat so many french fries and potato chips that they may feel like they’re chitting potatoes, but this type of chitting is not spelled with a C.

Potato chitting is a task that some home growers engage in on an annual basis. It is sometimes called greensprouting, or pre-sprouting

Chitting gives you a head start on your potato planting and not only an earlier harvest, but also a heftier one. Chitting is not 100% absolutely neccesary but it does ensure a quicker and bulkier harvest. It is basically sprouting your potatoes prior to planting them in the ground.

Chitting is simple. Place the spuds that you plan to sprout on / in a suitable container. Egg cartons work just swell for small lots, but other items such as cardboard boxes are best for larger quantities. Placed in boxes something to support them in a stationary upright position will be needed, I generally use crumpled up newspaper and gift wrap from christmas presents.

Hopefully the potatoes you are using already have some eyes peeking out, you’ll want to place them with the majority of the eyes facing upwards. They should be kept in a light, cool frost-free loctaion. Optimal temperature is 50 to 60 Degrees F.

A porch or garage that recieves some residual heat from the house is ideal. They need some light, not blazing sunlight just a tad, so don’t push them off into a shady or darkened spot.

Early potato varieties can be harvested by the end of June. Harvesting in early summer leaves enough time to plant a second round of potatoes that can be dug up in late summer or early Autumn, before blights and cold weather set in.

Once your shoots are healthy looking and start taking on the appearance of a plant they are ready to plant. If a particular spud has many shoots popping out you’ll want to remove all but the healthiest two. Leaving too many shoots on the seed potato will result in lots of scrawny potatoes.

Seed potatoes can be planted whole or cut into halves, or, quarters on larger varieties, with each piece containing an eye or two. Too small of a seed piece will produce a weak plant. They should be cut into pieces which weigh about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces each and have at least two buds.