When Do You Harvest Potatoes? How to Guarantee The Best Yield

If you’re new to gardening, chances are you may not be familiar with the process of planting, growing, and harvesting potatoes. Quite a big change from harvesting strawberries, apples, green beans, broccoli, or many other types of produce, potatoes operate on a different schedule that may be harder to identify due to the nature of the spud. 

However different it may be, have no fear! Whitwam Organics is happy to walk you through the basics of potato harvesting and help you decide on the best time to begin your harvest.  

The best tips for growing potatoes

Prior to jumping into the process of harvesting your potatoes, let’s go over a few key tips in order to make sure you produce the best batch possible. Below we’ve outlined the basics to include what time of year is best to start the growing process, as well as how long to expect to keep your potatoes in the ground for.

When to plant potatoes & recommended hardiness zones

When it comes to scheduling when to plant your potatoes, there are a few critical things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to know that your geographic location and hardiness zone will impact when your planting should begin. 

For example, more northern states with cooler climates may opt for planting in March or early April, and warmer climates may find better results later in the year with prime planting months ranging from August to September. Outside of climate and location, farmers and gardeners alike should also keep an eye on soil temperature and overall soil conditions. If the ground is too wet, wait for it to dry out a bit prior to depositing your seeds.

In Florida, we can grow potatoes for both fall and spring, and in south central Florida and south Florida, winter as well. In Florida, it’s recommended to stick with early and mid-season potatoes as it's hard to string together enough months of weather that will cooperate for a harvest. Heat and humidity of late spring and summer are just as hard, if not worse on the plants as winter cold.

How long does growing take before harvest?

Did you know that there are actually a few different harvesting times for potatoes? That’s right! There’s no one-size-fits-all growth time for every potato. Choosing how long it will take will be dependent on what type of potato you’re trying to produce: Early season potatoes, mid season potatoes, or late season potatoes.

Additionally, potatoes come in determinate and indeterminate varieties. Determinate will only produce under the original plant, and indeterminate can be buried as the plant grows. The plant will grow roots and potatoes along the stem. This can be done vertically by filling up a container or mounding or horizontal by laying the plants on their side and burying them in a trench.

How to harvest potatoes

Once you’ve established which type of potato you’re interested in harvesting, it’s time to get down to it! From red potatoes, to russet potatoes, harvesting your potatoes following the growing season is a simple, straightforward task. 

Harvesting new potatoes

Harvesting early season potatoes – also known as new potatoes or baby potatoes – is a simple process. Baby potatoes are usually ready to be harvested around 70 days after you’ve planted them. Instead of relying on the days that pass, another surefire way to make sure you’re harvesting your potatoes at the appropriate time is by monitoring the blooms on the plant. Since potatoes are grown underground, it’s hard to gauge when they will be ready visually without digging up and disturbing the spud. Instead, observe when the flowers of the potato plant bloom and anticipate harvesting around two and a half weeks after the bloom point. 

Mid season potatoes can be collected just after new potatoes. Generally it’s best to wait 90 to 100 days following the initial planting date for best results. 

Harvesting mature potatoes

Looking for more mature potatoes that can store longer? If so, harvesting late season potatoes is going to be your preferred pick. Where new and baby potatoes only keep for about 30 days, mature and late season potatoes can be cured, providing it with a shelf life of around two to three months. The prime time to harvest these potatoes is going to be anywhere from 110 to 130 days of maturity. 

What to expect from your potato harvest yield

Regardless of when you choose to harvest your potatoes, there are a few things to do to ensure you have the best possible crop for consumption. First, if the soil or potatoes are damp, leave the newly harvested spuds in the sun to dry out for a few hours before bringing them inside or storing them in a root cellar. 

In the event that you find small green sports on the produce, ensure they are removed prior to eating or storing potatoes. Lastly, if you’re hoping to continue with planting more potatoes, be sure to keep some of your freshly harvested produce off to the side to use as seed potatoes for easy planting later on down the line. 

Learn more gardening tips from Whitwam Organics!

It doesn't matter what your gardening experience is, Whitwam Organics has all the gardening tips and supplies anyone looking to garden would need to be successful. Looking to expand your garden? You’re in the right place! Visit our website to review a full list of our quality plants, seeds, and a variety of gardening tips and information.

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