Initial Potato Harvest Data — Lab Note 2.03

We just finished the last harvest for our potato plant study. We are comparing the growth, labor, and yield of five different potato-growing ideas: trench and hill, straw mulch, newspaper-and-straw mulch, containers, and towers. In order to help others reproduce our study or grow potatoes using these techniques, we are providing detailed instructions on our plant-out methods. See our previous lab notes on planting (Lab Note 2.01) and caring for the crop (Lab Note 2.02).

Raw Potato Data

We harvested with ten study participants. Three of them had significant vole damage and are marked with an asterisk; the remaining potatoes were half eaten. One participant had minor vole damage, marked with an asterisk in the affected plots. One participant was waterlogged and lost plants, marked with a dagger. The following table is sorted by total harvest.

Participant Trench and Hill Straw Mulch Newspaper and Straw Mulch Containers (Bags) Tower Total
1 53.38 55.06 57.63 34.75 60.88 261.69
2 58.75 48.25 47.50 39.40 43.25 237.15
10 62.00 49.50 53.25 33.00 35.00 232.75
5 62.00 15.75* 12.25* 43.75 47.00 180.75
8 18.00 21.00 24.00 14.00 24.00 101.00
9 20.25 22.25 19.00 18.25 10.75 90.50
7† 12.63 19.56 14.13 5.25 6.69 58.25
4* 10.75 1.50 16.50 8.00 1.00 37.75
3* 22.50 3.00 4.00 3.00 5.00 37.50
6* 5.50 0.25 0.25 10.50 0.25 16.75
Average 34.79 24.06 26.04 22.74 25.24
Standard Deviation 23.67 21.78 21.46 15.09 22.35

Most locations got about 3 lb of seed potatoes. We did record it down to the ounce and are able to calculate the “return” on each plot. The following table shows how many times more potatoes were grown compared to seed potato weight, that is, for example in Participant 1’s Trench and Hill plot, for every pound of seed potato, 18.57 lb were harvested. The table is sorted by average return.

Participant Trench and Hill Straw Mulch Newspaper and Straw Mulch Containers (Bags) Tower Average
1 18.57 19.15 20.04 12.09 21.64 18.30
2 19.79 16.43 16.17 13.56 14.57 16.10
10 21.11 16.85 18.52 11.12 12.04 15.93
5 20.45 5.25* 4.08* 14.58 15.67 12.01
8 6.00 7.00 8.00 4.57 7.92 6.70
9 6.89 7.42 6.33 6.21 3.58 6.09
7† 4.39 6.80 4.91 1.83 2.28 4.04
3* 8.89 1.20 1.60 1.23 2.03 2.99
4* 3.44 0.48 5.44 2.59 0.32 2.46
6* 1.91 0.09 0.09 3.65 0.09 1.17
Average 11.89 8.21 8.92 7.73 8.65
Standard Deviation 7.94 7.48 7.44 5.11 7.72

Analysis is coming soon! We’ll include labor, weather, and other data points.


“Lab Notes” are a series of posts chronicling the progress our research projects. Research Project No. 2 is the testing of potato-growing methods. These notes may be useful for anyone interested in reproducing and testing our results. Others might be interested in just growing potatoes, and videos and other formal publications that will result from this research project will be posted to the website as they are available.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s