Clone selection of potato tubers
I never really thought about the methods of plant propagation. Beets, carrots, radishes, all seasoning greens are grown by seeds, black and red currants - by cuttings or cuttings, tulips, lilies and other flower crops, as well as onions, garlic - onions, etc. Well, propagated (in different ways) and propagated, from time immemorial, well, okay. I did not think until I noticed: the potato tubers that were planted in the garden degenerated over the years, not to mention the fact that every year they became more and more infected with various diseases. This situation bothered more and more, because there was less and less space for potatoes in the garden as the number of beds with other healthy vegetables increased. Either bell peppers were mastered on the beds, or different types of cabbage (white cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, etc.). And the garden (apple trees, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, sea buckthorn) managed to grow to a decent size. There was no thought at all to refuse to plant potatoes, they thought that this would be a loss of the traditions and memory of our ancestors, whom we love and are convinced that they are our good guardian angels. The conclusion was obvious: better less, but better, i.e. you need to be more careful about planting material in order to get better potato tubers.
So, in the plant world, thanks to various methods of producing individuals of their own species, an endless generational change of each species occurs. It is clear that in the process of reproduction unique combinations of genetic material may occur, entailing the appearance of hereditary changes in the body. Thus, the genetic diversity of individuals within the same species arises and the foundations of the variability and further evolution of a particular species are laid. Plants form seeds as a result of the fertilization of the female body by the male through pollination of flowers. However, almost all representatives of the plant kingdom are characterized by asexual reproduction, called vegetative. It is carried out by vegetative organs: stems, roots, leaves, including by means of layering, cuttings and grafting, as well as modified roots and shoots: tubers, bulbs, mustaches. It should be noted right away that when propagating by seeds, a successful combination of traits of a particular plant may be violated (it is argued that it has been violated for sure), because the seeds are formed as a result of sexual reproduction, which is associated with recombination of genes. Asexual reproduction allows you to more quickly increase the number of individuals of this species (under favorable conditions). In addition, with this method of reproduction, all descendants have a genotype identical to the mother. It is believed that with asexual reproduction, there is practically no increase in genetic diversity, which could be very useful if necessary to adapt to changing living conditions. For this reason, given the wisdom of nature, the vast majority of living organisms periodically or constantly reproduce sexually.
So, it seems to us very useful to know that the totality of new plants that have arisen vegetatively from one mother plant is called a clone (from the Greek. Clone - "offspring", "branch"). The formation of clones allows each plant to have homogeneous offspring, to repeat itself in their descendants without changing the hereditary qualities. Cloning creates the ability to preserve the original properties of the mother plants for a sufficiently long time.
The benefits of cloning have already been noted. But there are also disadvantages, including when propagating by tubers. Thus, various bacterial and fungal diseases, penetrating into the tuber of a plant (including potatoes), overcoming natural immunity, accumulate every year in increasing numbers and begin to be transmitted from one generation to another. Viral and nematode infections are also transmitted through potato tubers. As a result, potatoes quickly degenerate over a number of generations; as a result, its productivity is greatly reduced, and in winter the tubers are poorly stored and rot. For this reason, gardeners advise potatoes for planting to cook especially carefully. Clone selection of potatoes is considered ideal. selection of tubers from the most productive bushes during harvesting. As a rule, small and medium tubers (no more than eggs) are selected from such bushes. They are able to give a full crop and take up less space during storage. If there are only large tubers in the bush, they can be cut into several segments. The tubers must be clean, free of any signs of disease, stains and damage, such as wireworms. Cracks and warty growths should also not be, because they can be signs of many diseases.
Another recommendation seems valuable: after digging, the seeds should be “greened”, then they are better stored. So that the tubers get a green color, they are kept for two weeks in the sun, periodically mixing. Usually, during this time, the tubers acquire a good green color and become completely unsuitable for food - both for humans and rodents. Store tubers for planting is recommended in the cellar at a temperature of the order of + 4ºC. At higher temperatures, they may fade, which will lead to a deterioration in their properties as planting clones. The last inspection of planting tubers is done immediately before sowing. Tubers sprout in the light to obtain sprouts 0.5-1 cm long. At this time, degenerate tubers are clearly visible with their filamentous sprouts. Such tubers must be ruthlessly thrown away. Sometimes all tubers give filamentous sprouts, which means they degenerate due to the heat into which they fell in the summer when ripening. In this case, you need to look for another planting material, there will be no sense from tubers with filamentous sprouts.
Recommendations on the selection of seed potato tubers even during their growing period, when the most beautiful thick-stem bushes with no signs of disease on the leaves, are very important. In the future, these bushes are checked separately: the number and size of tubers under them should confirm their strength. They should give twice or three times more potatoes than the rest of the bushes, and the tubers should be healthy in appearance, and the rest will show storage.
Competent gardeners conduct primary selection using clonal selection of material. It is not difficult - pick potatoes for seeds from the most fruitful healthy bushes, which have a lot of tubers, even in size, clean, not damaged by disease, without fines, ugly tubers of a bizarre shape. Select tubers that are typical for the variety. And immediately stack them separately. This will be your golden fund, which is able to provide a 30-50% increase in yield. It is clonal selection that will allow not only increasing productivity, but also protecting oneself from viral diseases of potatoes, which are also called degeneration diseases. Bushes infected with viruses do not die and do not immediately lag behind in growth. But when digging, you will distinguish sick offspring - in the ugly form of tubers, similar to fancy animals, and also - if the tubers are very different in size: a few large and a lot of little things. Even if such large tubers are very beautiful, even, still do not put them off for future planting, although the temptation is great. Tubers from an infected bush will not produce healthy offspring, so act firmly: less is better, but better! Simple clone selection rules not only prevent the yields of the purchased variety from decreasing, but can also increase the initial yields: in 2-3 years of selecting tubers from the best bushes, the yield usually rises by 30-50% by itself, although it is not difficult to double it. And further to maintain at this level for many years, but not forgetting about the regular change of varieties. And one more thing: the current selection improves not only yield by mass, but also disease resistance.