Polish name: Dzieciuchowatość bulw

English name: Secondary tuber

Perpetrators of the disease:

  • Abiotic factors (drought, uneven distribution of rainfall, temperature)


Secondary tuber
(fot. S. Wróbel)
Secondary tuber
(fot. S Wróbel)
Secondary tuber
(fot. S Wróbel)

Characteristics and description of the disease

Disruption of normal growth and development due to unfavorable weather conditions. Long-lasting drought causes the young tubers to mature prematurely and resume their growth after heavy rains. Then one or more new young tubers are formed on the tuber (photos 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E). As in the case of secondary growth in childhood, there is a phenomenon of the transition of starch from the older to the younger tuber. The flesh of the older tuber is glassy in cross-section. Childhood can also occur in the period of emergence and – less frequently – in storage. The occurrence of childishness during emergence is caused by improper storage conditions for seed potatoes (too high temperature) and low temperature during planting and immediately afterwards.

Internal childhood is a sporadic abnormality that does not cause major losses. The cause of this defect is disturbances resulting from too intensive conversion of starch into sugar, which is passed to the sprouts. The excess sugar transferred to the sprouts turns into starch, which the tuber stores in the young tubers that develop inside it – “children”. A characteristic symptom of such an irregularity is the growth of one or more new shoots inside, where they thicken and the mother tuber breaks as a result of the expansion of young tubers. This kind of phenomenon occurs most often after a mild winter and a long cool spring.

Tubers with babies are not suitable as seed material for consumption and industrial processing. Due to the undeveloped skin, young “baby-like” tubers pose a greater risk of infection by pathogens, and its development is more intense due to the reduced content of starch (Photo 2).


  1. In regions with droughts, cultivate varieties that are less prone to drought
  2. Do not grow potatoes on light soils with poor water retention.
  3. If possible, irrigate during drought periods.
  4. In the event of prolonged drought, do not delay harvesting prematurely mature tubers.
  5. Remove tubers with childhood symptoms prior to storage.

Compiled by: dr inż. Jerzy Osowski