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Potato History

History and fun facts

Potato History

Get to Know the Potato

Potato Facts - Origins of the Potato

The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. In 1536, Spanish Conquistadors in Peru discovered the flavors of the potato and transported them to Europe. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589, and it took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe. Potatoes arrived in the colonies in the 1620s when the Governor of the Bahamas sent a gift box containing potatoes to the governor of the colony of Virginia.

While they spread throughout the northern colonies in limited quantities, potatoes did not become widely accepted until they received an aristocratic seal of approval from Thomas Jefferson, who served them to guests at the White House. Thereafter, the potato steadily gained in popularity, this popularity being strengthened by a steady stream of Irish immigrants to the new nation.

Potato Life Cycle

Potatoes are grown as annual plants. Depending on the climate, potatoes are planted and harvested at different times of the year. For example, in the northern United States, fields are typically planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. The part called a “potato” grows underground. The potato grows on a specialized underground stem called a stolon. So, although potatoes grow underground, they are stems, not roots, and are known as “tubers.”

MORE POTATO HISTORY

What states grow potatoes?

Nowadays, potatoes are grown in almost every region in the United States ⎼ over 38 states grow potatoes. Since 2000, over one million acres of potatoes have been planted and harvested each year.

Did You Know?

In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.