Our seed potatoes are grown on this farm in the Pemberton Valley.
What’s so special about seed potatoes from West Coast Seeds?
Well, for a start, they are certified organic. That means that the farm where they are grown is monitored, and maintains a very high level of hygeine. The soil these potatoes are grown in is enriched with organic matter and guaranteed to be free of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Our growers depend on established organic practices like crop rotation and the use of beneficial insects in order to maintain healthy, robust, genetically clean crops.
Our seed potatoes are rated “Elite III” which means they are certified to be free from disease. Why is this important? Potatoes are prone to a number of soil-borne diseases that can spread quickly and contaminate soil, making it unsuitable for farming. Diseases like blight, scab, Verticillium wilt, leaf roll virus, Rhizoctonia, bacterial ring rot, and a number of viruses can all infect potato crops and fields. So hygeine is incredibly important for potato growers.
How are Elite III seed potatoes produced?
At the peak of the season, potato plants are selected by the grower for vigour, productivity, and being true to type. Leaves from these plants are cut, bagged, and shipped by courier to a laborotory in Hawaii, a place that is free from soil-borne diseases. The leaves are cut into pieces, and grown out as tissue cultures in a soil-free environment. Each piece is cloned to produce an individual potato plant with exactly the same genetics as the samples taken from the farmer’s field.
These potato plants are then re-introduced to clean soil, and used as “multipliers.” That is, they are grown to produce tubers (seed potatoes) that will sprout and grow into third generation potato plants in your garden. These seed potatoes are harvested immature, when they are still small, but they’re the perfect size for planting in your home garden.
During the period between planting and harvesting these seed potatoes, each field is inspected three times by biologists from the CFIA. The whole region where the seed potatoes are produced is under careful quarantine so that no soil-borne diseases are introduced. This area is protected by the British Columbia Seed Potato Control Act, which assures that any potatoes brought into the area are from tissue culture, and free of disease.
The 500 acre farm where our seed potatoes are grown is located in the Pemberton Valley, about 160 kilometers north of Vancouver, and is surrounded by the Coastal mountain range. It has been farmed by the same family since 1912, and they produce seed potatoes of the highest quality available in Canada.