Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat and maize. In Egypt the crop was introduced on a small scale during the nineteenth century. It is nowadays the second most important vegetable crop after.
- Solanum tuberosum
- Occurrence & Agricultural Importance in this Country:
- Cultivation Areas:
Potatoes are grown mainly in the northern uplands around Mosul and the central valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers near Baghdad. Some potatoes are also grown in the lower Tigris-Euphrates Valley, but production there is limited due to soil salinity.
Mosul receives an annual average of 390 millimetres of rain, mostly falling from November through May. Average annual rainfall at Baghdad is 140 mm, with a similar distribution
- Main Varieties:
Climatic conditions in Iraq demand early maturing varieties, the most widely grown being Bintje because it is preferred by consumers for its taste and texture. Ajax is also planted in some quantity. Other varieties under evaluation include Radosa, Desiree, Amigo, Marijke, Estima, Jaerla, Ostara, and Wilja.
- Marketing Information and Uses:
- Fresh and Processed
- In Iraq average consumption of fresh and processed potatoes is about 12 Kg/year.
Despite significant local production, demand still exists and the country remains a net importer of potatoes. The crop is used mainly for food (78 percent), the remainder is split 8% as livestock feed, 6% as seed, and 8%t is wasted. Yields range between 12-20 t/ha for the spring crop and 8 -10 t/ha in the autumnl, though yields of 30 t/ha or more are not uncommon.
- Crop Management:
Cultivation conditions and methods:
- Soil Type:
- Potatoes prefer well aerated, loamy soil with good drainage. Soil salinity, waterlogging and high levels of calcium-carbonate are undesirable for potato cultivation as they negatively affect productivity and starch content. The main problem in Iraqi soils are drought in the north of Iraq and salinity in middle and south off Iraq.
- With winter minima approaching 0° C (lower at higher elevations) and summer maxima of over 40° C, conditions can be challenging.
- Water Requirements:
- Both spring and autumn crops are irrigated, especially in the central plain. Irrigation is particularly critical just before the autumn planting to lower the soil temperature.
- Nutrition Requirements:
- Soil should be subjected to analysis for nutrient availability in order to develop an appropriate fertilization scheme.
- Harvesting Period:
- Spring crop: Harvest occurs about four months later. Late summer: Harvest of the autumn crop may be forced by early frosts.
- Harvesting Methods: