We are a large CSA near Madison, WI. As a result, we have been growing a lot of potatoes for some time now. Over time we became frustrated with the quality of the shipped in potato seed and questioned the logic of importing Maine and Colorado seed to the potato state of Wisconsin; added to this was the strengthening of the organic standards to require the use of organically grown seed. We set out to grow our own potato seed with the goal of supplying ourselves and other growers in the area.
Growing quality potato seed means growing disease free seed. To accomplish this, all of the "potato states" have established regulatory programs, with Wisconsin's being the most stringent. The state program includes multiple on-farm inspections during the growing season, planting strictly clean seed produced by approved/regulated sources, followed by in-field winter tests in Hawaii to verify the purity of the seed. Seed that is not monitored/State Certified will have an unknown level of disease. Disease in the seed results in a reduction of plant vigor and yield, disease spread to healthy plants, and potentially the introduction of pathogens into your soils. The lengthy inspection process covers leaf roll, mosaics, spindle tuber, bacterial ring rot, blackleg, rhizoctonia, verticillium, mycoplasmas, white mold, early blight, late blight, variety mixture, growth and vigor, insect control, weed control, isolation and stand.
Any potato will grow and produce more potatoes; only State Certified Seed assures you the highest potential yield and quality. As you may guess, being certified by the State is expensive, but it is well worth the price. In addition, our entire farm is certified by Midwest Organic Services Association.