Growing Rooster Potatoes

Rooster potatoes, produced by the Albert Bartlett company, are a popular but patented new variety of red-skinned, yellow-flesh potato which are currently not legally available for growing by American home gardeners.
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Joe Lamp'l shows how to plant, grow and harvest potatoes.

The Albert Bartlett Rooster potato, developed fairly recently in Ireland and now that island’s most commonly-grown, is a heavy-producing variety now making the rounds in American supermarket and through word-of-mouth with gardeners in America.

Rooster potatoes are pinkish- or red-skinned, oval potatoes with yellow flesh and buttery, nutty flavors. The tubers have a low starch content and floury texture making them great for baking and mashing, yet they can be boiled.and used in soups and potato salads, making them great all-round potatoes.

Albert Bartlett

The Albert Bartlett produce company, founded in Scotland and run today by the third generation of the family, is Britain’s leading supplier of potatoes. Bartlett potato growing operations supply an estimated one in five of the UK’s fresh potatoes, and recently began expanding operations to the United States.

The Bad News

Unfortunately, though still-patented Albert Bartlett Rooster seed potatoes are available for planting by gardeners in Ireland and the UK, its developers have made it unavailable in America except to select commercial producers. This means for the next few years it won’t be legal to grow them without a license – not even by home gardeners.  

And supermarket spuds may be treated to prevent or reduce their sprouting, making them not suitable for starting potatoes at home.

Meanwhile, a very similar older potato variety, popular for over half a century in English community gardens, is Desiree, which is pretty similar in appearance, color and flavor.

Growing Rooster Potatoes

Once Rooster seed potatoes become available to American gardeners, they can be grown like any other mid- to late-season main crop potatoes.

The somewhat large Rooster plants need four months or so of cool weather – neither freezing nor consistently above the mid-80s – to produce well. They require at least six or eight hours of direct sunshine and moist, well-drained soils.  

Cut seed potatoes into small pieces, each with one or two small leaf bud “eyes” and allow the cut pieces to dry a few days before planting. Plant three inches deep and a foot or so apart in rows, hills, raised beds, or containers. Work in an all-purpose fertilizer at planting and add more around the sides of plants a month after plants start growing. .

Avoid the sun-greening of potato tubers, which cause a bitter flavor and the buildup of a poisonous plant alkaloid called solanine, by piling soil thick mulch around small plants, repeating as needed until six or eight inches of lower stems are buried.

Harvesting Potatoes

Rooster potatoes can be harvested about four months after planting, either when plants start to turn yellow or when plants are cut down and allowed to dry a few days before tuber harvest. While digging, avoid cuts and bruisesl; gently brush off soil instead of washing which can lead to decay during storage. .

Store mature potato tubers in a cool, dry, dark area for four or five months or longer, checking regularly for shriveling and decay.

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