Gardeners Often Ask What Are These Strange Fruit On My Potatoes? They Look Like Tomatoes, Can I Eat Them? Get Your Potato Fruit Answers Here.

The fruit on tomatoes surprise and even frighten some people. They ask a load of questions including ….

  • Should you remove potato fruit?
  • Why do my potatoes have fruit?
  • Why are my potatoes growing berries?
  • Is the fruit of potato flower edible?

The fruits you see growing on potatoes are perfectly normal, but poisonous, so don’t eat them.

Let’s examine these questions one by one.

Is The Fruit Of Potato Flower Edible?

No. Potato fruit contain solanine, which is an alkaloid poison.

Why Are My Potatoes Growing Berries?

That’s what potatoes do. The fruit is just part of the plant as much as the leaves and stems.

Why Do My Potatoes Have Fruit?

The fruit contain the seeds of the potato. In the last section I explain the full detail. But for now it’s enough to know that what we call seed potatoes aren’t actually seeds. They are tubers, the true seeds are in these fruit.

Do All Potatoes Have Fruit?

No. If we harvest the crop really early they will not have flowered and had time to produce fruit. This often happens with earlies and second earlies.

Another reason for no fruit is that the flowers may not have been pollinated. Some potatoes flowers have a fertility problem and you can get a good show of flowers but no fruit at all.

In other cases, even though the plants are at flowering stage the flower doesn’t appear, due to factors surrounding the fertility problems.

Should You Remove Potato Fruit?

I see a lot of differing opinions on this.

Some people say that if the flowers are removed then the energy goes into the tubers and not the fruit. That makes sense, but many potatoes don’t produce fruit after flowering and the weight of fruit is very small.

If it made sense to do so farmers would have invented a machine to do it .. they haven’t.

And if the fruit is already there then it onset going to take any more energy from the plant .. so it’s too late at this stage.

Are The Flowers or Fruit Indicative Of Plant Growth Stages?

Yes, Tuber swelling tends to start at around flowering time. It’s now that tuber growth really takes off and the plant is most receptive to irrigation.

A good time to check tuber size, and whether the crop can be harvested, is once flowering is coming to an end. It’s personal decision though. Go early and you get smaller “new” potatoes. Go later and you can get bigger mature spuds that can be used as bakers.

Potato Reproduction

Potato have two ways of reproducing.

One is to produce tubers that will overwinter underground and grow new plants the following year. The tubers are clones of the original plant so will be genetically the same.

The second is to produce flowers and subsequent fruit that contain seeds. The seeds are genetically different because the flowers will have been pollinated by the pollen of a different plant. And that means, even though those potatoes are clones of the same variety (or maybe another nearby variety) they are genetically variable.

The seed is often referred to as TPS (True Potato Seed) and is used to breed new varieties. The process sis long and fraught with problems, not least fertility issues.

Research & Citations:

Genetic and Environmental Factors Contributing to Reproductive Success and Failure in Potato

Paul C. Bethke & Shelley H. Jansky

AU – Bethke, Paul
AU – Jansky, Shelley
PY – 2021/01/06
SP –
N2 – The foundation of potato ( Solanum tuberosum) breeding and the development of new potato varieties is the crossing of parents to produce seeds that contain new combinations of alleles that may be superior to those in either parent. In this review, we begin by highlighting a signature problem of potato breeding, the widespread lack of fertility observed in many lines. We summarize normal development of male and female reproductive structures, fertilization and embryo growth. Various manifestations of male and female sterility are then described. These include defects of meiosis and mitosis, bud abscission, competition between reproductive structures and tubers for resources, and cytoplasmic male sterility. Effects of environmental determinants, such as temperature and light intensity, on fertility are discussed. Finally, suggested best practices that promote fertility are provided as a guide for those conducting breeding and genetics work with potato.
T1 – Genetic and Environmental Factors Contributing to Reproductive Success and Failure in Potato
VL – 98
DO – 10.1007/s12230-020-09810-3
JO – American Journal of Potato Research
ER –

Genetic gains in potato breeding as measured by field testing of cultivars released during the last 200 years in the Nordic Region of Europe

Ortiz, Reslow, Cuevas and Crossa

AU – Ortiz, Rodomiro
AU – Reslow, Fredrik
AU – Cuevas, Jaime
AU – Crossa, Jose
PY – 2022/07/25
SP –
N2 – Genetic gains (ΔG) are determined by the breeders’ equation ΔG = [(ck σ2G)/(y σP)], where c, k and y are the parental control, a function of the selection intensity and number of years to complete one selection cycle, respectively, while σ2G and are σP the genetic variance and the square root of the phenotypic variance. Plant breeding programs should deliver above 1% of annual genetic gains after testing and selection. The aim of this research was to estimate genetic gains in potato breeding after testing of cultivars released in western Europe in the last 200 years under high yield potential, and stress-prone environments affected by a pest (late blight) or daylength. The annual genetic gains for tuber yield and flesh’s starch content for potato breeding in Europe were about 0.3 and −0.1%, respectively, thus telling that the realized genetic gains of foreign cultivars for both traits are small or negative, respectively, in the Nordic testing sites. The national annual productivity gains in potato grown in Sweden were on average 0.7% in the last 60 years while the genetic gains for tuber yield considering only the table cultivars released after the 2nd World War were about 0.36%, thus showing that breeding contributed just above ½ of it. Furthermore, genetic gains for breeding low reducing sugars in the tuber flesh, and high host plant resistance to late blight were small (<0.2% per year). These results highlight that genetic gains are small when testing bred germplasm outside their target population of environments.
T1 – Genetic gains in potato breeding as measured by field testing of cultivars released during the last 200 years in the Nordic Region of Europe
VL – 160
DO – 10.1017/S002185962200034X
JO – Journal of Agricultural Science
ER –

Image Attribution:
CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tag: Fruit On My Potatoes

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