When to harvest potatoes?

ahuehuete(z9)June 8, 2009

I was told once to harvest them when the plants are flowering, but I tried it and there were very few and small potatoes.

Thankyou very much.

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You want to harvest when the plants are dying back, around fall. If you carefully dig around the plant (under the soil you can get an idea how big the potatoes are and that can give you an idea of when to harvest as well).

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 10:19PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree. Wait until the plants die. They yellow, then brown and fall over. If you harvest when blooming you will just get a few small ones as you discovered. ;)

Here we wait until after the first frost to dig them but in your zone you don't have to rush to harvest even when the plants die since you don't have to worry about the ground freezing.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:10AM
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I am confused about when to harvest also. I planted my potatoes March 28. Since this is my first try I planted several varieties to see which ones grow best. Some were called "early" and they were to mature in 60 - 80 days. So, do I harvest now? The plants are green and healthy. Do I wait for them to die?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 12:43PM
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Er, the consenus is yes. But feel free to carefully root around and "rob" some from your patch now. See what you got!
I know it is tempting, but the wait is worth it. If the tops are green & healthy some growing is going on.
I have tops starting to die back in one patch, but my 2 other patches are green & lush. Hands off!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 1:39PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Some were called "early" and they were to mature in 60 - 80 days. So, do I harvest now? The plants are green and healthy. Do I wait for them to die?

Yes, other than sneaking out a few from the sides if you wish you wait for the plants to die back before harvesting. Green healthy still growing plants are still making potatoes. ;)


    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 1:44PM
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medcave(8 Tx)

I harvested my Kennebec potatoes last weekend. They have been in the ground since early February. I waited until all the tops were completely dead and even gone in many cases. They turned out great!

Note: Kennebecs are listed in seed catalogs as a Late variety, though in Texas they are considered a Medium, thus the early summer harvest. Your timing may vary, but wait until the tops are dead (other than sneaking out a few New pototoes if you must).

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 1:52PM
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So I wait untill only the top is dead?
It happened to me last year that I waited too long and the only thing I could dig out were some sick semi-rotten and brown potatoes (or what was left of them).

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 12:10AM
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Around here we wait for the flowers to die before picking them as tender earlies. If you leave them longer they will become bigger and the skins will be thicker.

If you got sick semi-rotten and brown potatoes last year it wasn't because you left them too long.They sound like they got blight.

Even after my potatoes have had the blight I cab still dig them out months later as long as I have cut away the tops and as long as they haven't started to regrow or been eaten by slugs

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 7:23AM
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Oh, that is another issue, What methods do you use to keep slugs and snails away? I have found that leaving a deep plate with beer is quite effective. They get drunk, fall, and drown. The problem is that it is very disgusting to clean the mushy snail soup after a couple of days. I would preferr nothing toxic since I've got two dogs (the beer sometimes disappears misteriously), lots of birds stop in my garden, and there are other fruits and vegetables for our consumption nearby.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 9:13PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

Dang! Too late! Dug mine up today, week after flowering, and some green dying back. When I tried "robbing" a while ago, the plants dying back had rotted potatoes. Yuck! So my "harvest" today was very small. Oh well; mostly sprouting leftovers from my CSA box.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 12:21AM
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The slugs can damage the plants themselves as well as the tubers.
Personally if I have time I go out at night with a very sharp pair of scissors and a torch (no need to collect as the slugs will eat each other )
If you do use beer traps be careful not to trap beetles or anything else by leaving the top of the bowl an inch or so above ground level so that only the slugs can climb in.
I also understand cheap lemonade is effective as well as being cheaper.
The damage to the stalks is worst when they are damaged low down which causes the whole plant to fall down.
As for the damage to the tubers I think you can choose varieties that are less vulnerable to slug damage (Kerr Pinks are bad for example)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 8:04PM
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Yes, slugs usually chop my plants to the ground.
I think I heard somewhere of a biological control for slugs with..... a kind of nemathod eggs? Has anyone heard about this?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 2:45PM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

I just "harvested" a handfull for dinner and the largest was a little smaller than a golf ball. The rest were about robin egg size. I am gonna wait to pull the rest.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 6:46PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I planted mine on March 21st, then two weeks later and two weeks later. I have already finished off my first planting, it was the smallest. I am working on my second planting.

I sell my new potatoes. I can get a higher price for them when they are young and tender. From past experience, I average a pound a foot. So, if I charge more for them, I dig 1/3 less, I earn the same as if I waited and dug when they are larger.

It also allows me to replant more potatoes for a fall crop or come in and plant another crop.

Just my two cents.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 8:53PM
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I planted white potatoes from old ones that i cut near the eyes. I planted them in 5 gallon buckets. Some of the growth is dying, some is new. I'm going to wait a while to harvest. This is my first attempt. Used a little Sevin for bugs. Anyone else ever use buckets. Hope we don't get CANCER from the plastic buckets!!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 11:49AM
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wiringman(ZONE 4)

well well. potatoes. my family has been growing potatoes all of my life and i am 66 this month.

our family had five different pieces of land. most was wooded. we worked together to grow food. we had a couple of orchards and maybe 50 acres of cleared land.
two to the places supported some cow for milk and beef. not more then 8-8 cow.

we had two large chicken yards and we would cull the roosters when they reached the two to three pound size. we all worked together.

one uncle was a logger and owned a small cat. we used it to prepare the ground for crops.

when is was about 10 i remember hilling potatoes and corn. we had about 15 of us cousins. uncle Stillman would divide the rows my the number of us and we each had that many rows to hill. the number i remember was 5 rowa each.

well the kids were from about 6 - 16 years old. when we got done with our part we would go help the younger ones get done.

when we were done uncle Stillman would take us swimming in the river that ran through our place.

so now for the potato wisdom from the old ones.

to harden the skins you need to stop watering them for 10 days.

here in zone four we don't dig until after the first frost and if that is light and we have an Indian summer we let the be for another month.

well i co dig some now and then for new potatoes.

we have about two acres of potatoes.

if you hill the potatoes you will get a bigger harvest. we cultivate the potatoes and corn four times for four weeks.

we root cellar our root corps and sometimes our apples.

we have a 6' rotary mower that mounts on the back of the tractor to mow the potato tops and we have a potato digger to make things easier for us.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 12:31PM
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wiringman Nice story.

This is the first time I have grown potatoes. Have harvested some, my question is , do the potatoes keep growing even though the plant has died back? Is this due to there still being energy in the plant? Otherwise what is the reason to leave them in the ground until frost?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 12:52PM
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when the tops of the vine has dry up. you also do need to harvest them all at once

Here is a link that might be useful: Potato Harvesting

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 4:33PM
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When potato tops flower that is an indication that setting tubers.

As, mentioned , potatoes are harvested when the top dies or gets very woody. Therefore, tubers cannot grow anymore.
In the fall, you can leave them in the ground untill frost. This can help the potato skin mature nicely.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:08PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Leaving them in the ground until frost helps solve the storage problem for a while. If you dig all of them in summertime, you will need cool, moist and dark storage....just what the ground provides free.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:53PM
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Fellow mentioned slug problems - I hate feeding beer to slugs - found what works for me is walking the garden at sun rise with a pair of sharp pointed tweezers - picking up the rascals and flipping them into a jar with a little water and salt added. After a shower is the most productive time to finding the slugs in the open - my garden is in strips about two to three feet wide so seeing the varmints is easy - picking with the tweezers gets a bit slimy so wiping the points with a paper towel is required. Method is effective and no insecticides are used. Make sure the slug is in the remains in the bottom and not sticking to the side of the jar or they will crawl out - practice makes perfect

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 8:23PM
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I was too curious and succumbed to the temptation. I harvested from one side of my box and got 5 nice sized potatoes.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 4:19PM
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i planted the small yellow potatoes. my plants were very tall and it rained and the fell over on some of them the stems are pretty bad broken, should i harvest them before the rot? will they Rot if i dont? i planted them maybe the end of march or very begining of april the grew really fast there about 3ft tall???????????????????????

Here is a link that might be useful: GardenWeb

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Regarding killing slugs, there is a natural chemical that is in the ground and not dangerous to animals other than slugs and snails, iron phosphate, in a product called Sluggo. You apply 1 pound per 1000 sq. ft. on damp soil and it kills the slugs and snails immediately. I have not seen a slug or any new damage to my potatoes since scattering the Sluggo the first evening. The iron phosphant swells in the slugs stomach, prevents it from feeding, and kills it within hours.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 11:16PM
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what is blight and how do i get rid or avoid it? half of my potatos were rotten when i harvested. thanks for any advice. i had my plants in rubbermaid storage bins. i dumped them on the ground and removed the good potatos. now i have new plants growing.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:18PM
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raccoonman(S. Texas ,Z-9)

We just harvested our first planting of reds. From an 8x8 box we got 2 1/2- 5 gal pails. We're gonna replant in about a week, after the bed is sprayed with neem oil for grubs and more fertilizer is tilled in. The next batch will be more reds and one row of yams. Those will probably come out around October/November.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 6:50PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

I planted about 25 "heirloom" potato eyes back in May. They came from White Flower Farms in Connectucut. Instructions said to hill up dirt around the plants (which I'll be doing late June-early July) and around August dig up any "new" size potatoes from near the surgace, but leave the foliage alone. Around November dig up the big potatoes which will be lower than the first "crop". I have also heard it's berst to wait for the foliage to die. My foliage is just fine now (June 27) and a few of the plants have purple flowers. Guess this is a good sign that growing is still going on. Right now I have a LOT of weeding to do in the potato patch. By the way , I'm in Long Island New York which was always famous for its' farms and potatoes. So I have high hopes.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:36AM
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pattypan(z6b CT)

my potatoes are in big pots and doing fine. just read a UK site that said to harvest this way : cut the plant tops off and leave the tubers in the ground for 10-14 days before digging to prevent blight spores from getting on them. i don't think i have a blight problem. if i do this, should i cover the pots during any heavy rain ? will this help to "cure" them ? i'm a newbie to taters, so any help is appreciated. i think next year i'll use insect barrier because of all the bugs i hand-picked, and those pesky flea beetles ! i also nipped off the flowers, hoping for taters a tad larger.....btw- i wick my pots as per tapla's suggestion.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 10:40AM
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To get ride of the snails, I went out every night with a flashlight, and "harvest" so many snails. I kept them and next morning I feed them to my girls "hens". they had a feast. I spent about 15-20 minutes every night 'til the snail population basically disappeared. Today, we harvested about 3lb. of potatoes different varieties.

Another natural snail repellent is "crushed oyster seashells" it is used as calcium supplement for laying hens. It can be found at the country feed stores. Very inexpensive. Sprinkle around your patch. Kind of like a fence about one inch wide. The sharp edges and the salt of the shells is a snail's #1 enemy. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:20PM
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Regarding slugs: I save my eggshells, let them dry, then crush them and put the dried shell around my plants. The shells are sharp & slugs don't want to crawl over them.

Problem solved without having to kill the slugs.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Opened up 2 acres last fall, Did all the soil amending and planted Burbank Russets April 3rd on hilled rows. Hilled 4 times. Beautiful plants with 40% still in bloom. Irrigate every day @0530 for one hour for tuber growth. 10% of vines are starting to get light green while others are still dark green and healthy. Early spuds were delicious and now are huge! I can't bring anymore soil up around to cover monsters coming out on surface!

Question: Should I be cutting back on water to help kill vines? I don't think my Spedo CPP-T harvester can handle ones the size of footballs.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 11:28AM
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pattypan(z6b CT)

oh jim, stop boasting !! i envy your 2 acres. we are on a hill which took a lot of work to terrace. my 5 potato plants are in 55G. food drums cut in half. today i dug up the one that had died back and was thrilled to get 2 pounds. just curious, what yield should i expect ?
hope you don't break your harvester when you dig those baby hueys !

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 8:04PM
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I planted a couple of potatoes that had started sprouting in my pantry back in March or so. They went crazy in my raised bed. Today I went out to water and noticed that some of the formerly lush green leaves were going yellow. I can see potato bodies lurking below the leaves, sticking up just a little from the soil.

It's been hot and humid (for here -- about 85 degrees and about 60% humidity). Do you think the yellow leaves are the beginning of die-off -- it's still July -- and that I should harvest the potatoes, or did I perhaps just wait too long between waterings? I don't want to harvest too early.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:53PM
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They should be easily dying off by now,I planted the first week of april and mine are dead, And make sure none of your potatoes are sticking out of the ground, Keep them covered.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 9:54PM
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This year I planted a few Yukon Gold in a couple of barrels, They grew well, and died off in mid August. I did not get them harvested, was gone on vacation, plus being tied up with tearing out my kitchen, I just did not get to it. Now in late October they are growing again. Should I just let them grow and when the frost gets them dump them out or dump them out now??? Leaving them in the barrels over winter is not an option as they would freeze.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2014 at 2:20PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

OLD thread:

Potato maturity is very similar to tomatoes. In average it take 90 to 120 days from sowing seeds to harvest.

Now then it depend on where you are. For example, in North GA I used to plant in mid March and harvested around early July. Starting in June, I would reach in and get some young ones for cooking. Then In August I did fall planting.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2014 at 6:14AM
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