There is no doubt in saying that potatoes are one of the most favorite vegetable for many people around the world. They are staple food and many home gardeners plant them and store them for fall and winter months. However, knowing when to harvest potatoes completely depend on the variety you choose to grow and what happens to their foliage and flowers. But, when is the right time to dig up your potatoes?
Generally, season gardeners know when the plant is ready. If you are beginner or just starting out it’s a bit head scratcher. Well, doing some research about the type and varieties of potatoes before you start growing them in your garden will help you to know about growing, planting and harvesting. The majority varieties will fit in to categories of ‘First Early’ ‘Second Early’ and ‘Mani crop’. Read the complete article to know when to dig up potatoes.
- For First Earlier Potatoes:
First Earlier category potatoes include Lady Christ, Scores, Arran pilot, red duke of York and more. These category potatoes are one of the earliest garden crops to mature. You must plant them in mid-march and then dig them around 10-12 weeks later.
Look For Potato Flowers:
This is the first sign that the first earliers are ready to harvest. Early potatoes produce flowers buds that sometimes blooms and sometimes don’t. Seeing unopened flower buds dropping from the plant is another indication to harvest these potatoes. At this point, the leaves will be in green color but some of them fading in to yellow color. The potatoes of earlies will be about the size of a egg.
If you aren’t sure that they are ready, gently dig around the plant and look for potatoes. If you see them in a size of an egg or even larger, just harvest them. You can even leave them in the ground to encourage its growth if you aren’t sure if they’re ready to harvest.
- For Second Earlier Potatoes:
Second early potatoes include Nicola, jazzy, kestrel and Maris peer. They mature in about three weeks after planting. You can plant them in the ground at the same time like first earlies but it’s better to wait. Plant them two weeks after your first earlies, the harvests will be staggered by five weeks. This gives you time to have first crop before another massive harvest is ready.
- For Mani crop Potatoes:
Mani crop potatoes also called storing potatoes include King Edward, pink fir apple, purple majesty and cara. These types of potatoes are planted at the same time or up to a month later as second early potatoes. These potatoes take long time to grow and you must harvest them only after 20 days.
Though you can harvest main-crop potatoes as earlier, it’s better to grow specific type that gives you healthy harvest at the right time.
Harvesting Main Crop Potatoes:
You must harvest main crop potatoes in the month of august to September. Start harvesting them when you see the foliage on all your plants begins to turn in to yellow color. It’s better to cut off the plant about an inch from the ground and leave tubers in the ground for couple of weeks before digging the ground. It helps in hardening the skin and prepares them for storing.
If you see black spots on the foliage or if the die-off is affecting some of your plants, then you much research potatoes diseases. If you see any issues on your plants before 20 weeks, then it’s an indication that something is wrong.
How To Store Main Crop Potatoes:
Main crop potatoes can be stored for months at a time. First, you should dry them completely before keeping them in bags or boxes for storage. Then, spread them out in a garage or greenhouse turning them over after one side is dry. You can also leave them in sun, but leaving them in sunlight for a day or two can cause them to turn in to green color. Small amount of green on potatoes is harmless but if a potato turns completely in to dark green color, then you should avoid eating it.
Always pick the location with a good air circulation and the storage area should be cooler than curing site and well ventilated. Under ideal conditions, potatoes can retain its quality for six to eight months. Check them regularly and remove the ones that show signs of rot or shriveling.