I think the potato is set to play a large role in the future of local food production systems, at least in the climate where I live. I believe establishing local seed (tuber) availability will be imperative to scaling a system of potato production.
Are there any informal production methods to producing quality seed potatoes? That is, not dependent on laboratory tissue culture methods?
In the absence of laboratory facilities, the best practice is to not let your nuclear potatoes get infected with disease. You can do that by growing them in a screenhouse or other indoor facility, usually with heavy doses of pesticide. As long as you keep producing your primary seed from those plants, never exposing them to insect or soil vectors, they can remain virus free indefinitely. You then only have to worry about diseases that spread by spores like blight, but since the symptoms of these diseases are not subtle, it is not difficult to eliminate them.
I have some information about relatively low tech means for treating viruses here, but these are mostly techniques that are just better than nothing:
The potato industry is also working very hard on true breeding F1 TPS. Although I suspect it will not revolutionize the industry as much as some people imagine, it will make it possible to regenerate clones from seed. That is probably less than five years out.
What I could find on screenhouse culture seemed to imply that tissue culture preceded it. In what ways can you produce nuclear potatoes without the previous generations being tissue culture? I’m also hesitant to adopt plant culture that seems to rely on a biologically sterile environment.
To eliminate the need for screenhouse and pesticide culture, would this method of production work:
Growing out botanical seed grown plants. Screening and selecting for possible new varieties. Replacing old varieties that have run out from disease build up with varieties that are “good enough” from the tps grown plants. The seedling grow out, screening, and evaluation would take place each year. Keeping in mind this is a subsistence level growing scenario, I would imagine this opens up a much wider range of “acceptable” new varieties compared to current commercial and market constraints.
There are varieties that have extreme resistance to PVY from one of three resistance genes. If you don’t use tissue culture, the only way you could keep virus from building up in your seed stock is by taking advantage of host plant resistance.