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The 16th-century English herbalist John Gerard referred to sweet potatoes as "common potatoes", and used the terms "bastard potatoes" and "Virginia potatoes" for the species we now call "potato".

The name spud for a small potato comes from the digging of soil (or a hole) prior to the planting of potatoes.

However, the local importance of the potato is variable and changing rapidly.

It remains an essential crop in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia.

but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild species proved a single origin for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex), where they were domesticated approximately 7,000–10,000 years ago.

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Potatoes yield abundantly with little effort, and adapt readily to diverse climates as long as the climate is cool and moist enough for the plants to gather sufficient water from the soil to form the starchy tubers.As of 2014, China led the world in potato production, and, together with India, produced 37% of the world's potatoes.The English word potato comes from Spanish patata (the name used in Spain).Potatoes are mostly cross-pollinated by insects such as bumblebees, which carry pollen from other potato plants, though a substantial amount of self-fertilizing occurs as well.Tubers form in response to decreasing day length, although this tendency has been minimized in commercial varieties.

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