Potatoes falling over

lilacs_of_mayJuly 23, 2007

The potatoes in my potato bag were growing and looking green and healthy. Now suddenly they're falling over and dying. The largest had some yellowing leaves at the bottom. I attributed that to overwatering. But then the stalks of another plant (which wasn't yellowing) just fell over and the plant started to die. It looks pinched and dried right at the soil line. They're several inches high. Way too big for damping off, aren't they?

The plants in the raised bed are doing fine. They're younger than the potatoes in the potato bed, and the heat makes them droop, but they're fine otherwise. One's even starting to bloom.

I know it's not soon enough for the potatoes to die off in preparation for harvest. What gives with the spuds?

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I know it's not soon enough for the potatoes to die off in preparation for harvest.

Are you sure? Have you grown this variety before in identical weather conditions? Are you expecting them to flower first? What variety are they?

Have you researched potato diseases at all?

Here is a link that might be useful: Potato Diseases

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 6:17PM
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These potatoes are specifically supposed to flower. That's part of why I got them. I think they've only been in the ground about two months. I put them in during the latter part of May, so it's possibly 60 days. The one that's toppled over completely is a Carola. I also had a Carola in the raised bed. That's the only one that didn't come up. It stuck a sprout partially above the soil, then shriveled and died. So possibly it isn't hardy enough for Colorado summers.

The other two in the potato bag are a Cranberry Red, and a large All Blue, which was quite vigorous up until this week.

Thanks for the link.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 6:22PM
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So possibly it isn't hardy enough for Colorado summers.

What have your temperatures been the last few weeks?

Potatoes are not a summer crop, they are a more of a spring crop. I believe potatoes in your area are supposed to be planted April 1 to April 30. What zone are you in? Potatoes should be planted up to 2 weeks earlier than the average date of the last spring frost. This could be part of the issue. If they were planted too late, they may not flower.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 6:40PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

When you garden in an area with hot summers potatoes have to be planted very early and you'll do best with varieties that mature in early- or mid-season. They will tolerate frost and even a light snow but potato plants will not survive temps in the 90 degree range. They actually keel over and die if the temperature hits 95 degrees. Our planting date here is late February and from what I read over at the Colorado AG Extension site, Zone 5 date is mid to late March.

Yours were planted in late May? Way too late I'm afraid and it sounds like the heat got them. Better luck next year with an earlier planting.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 9:39PM
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All that aside, have you dumped the bags out to see if there are any usable potatoes in there??
Bill P.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 11:13PM
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I planted this year in May. Last year I planted in mid-June and still got over 100 potatoes.

Yet you think I ought to just give up on all of my potato plants. Should I just dig everything up and compost it? The rest of them are still alive and growing. Are you saying that they won't produce any tubers, then?

I don't understand why I should just give up on all of my potatoes. The Butte's even putting out flower buds.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 3:36AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yet you think I ought to just give up on all of my potato plants.

I don't think anyone said that at all. ;) The ones in the "bag" you said were "falling over and dying" are obviously ready for the compost pile. If I recall correctly you had posted that was to be an experiment anyway, right? Now you know it is one that won't work well there given the planting times you used and under this year's conditions.

But the ones still growing in the garden clearly should be left alone till they fall over and die. Whether or not they will produce any potatoes remains to be seen but wilting daily isn't a good sign.

Otherwise, all anyone suggested was that perhaps you have been planting potatoes far too late to reap the ideal growing conditions in your zone. Several of your problem posts in the past have all had that common focus - planted too late. That is why many have suggested exploring info on proper planting times in your area as a solution to some of your garden problems.

As you know, what works in the garden one year may not work the next - true for all of us due to factors beyond our control - and what works in one zone won't work in another. So the best any of us can hope for is to learn about the standard guides for our zone, follow those accepted guidelines for recommended planting times in our zones, and hope nature coperates. ;)

Time has proven that approach will give us the best returns for the least amount of problems and hardships. Now that you have your beds up and established, earlier planting times next year should eliminate many of the problems you have been having this year.

Good luck! ;)


    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 1:36PM
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I don't think I'm going to plant Carola again. Both the ones that didn't make it, the one in the raised bed and the one in the bag, were Carola. The other two in the bag seem to be perking up. I'll watch what they do.

Next year, I'll be more ready. I'll have two raised beds (three if I can get the dirt) set up, and all I'll have to do is plant. I started my seeds pretty much on schedule this year, but it took much longer than I thought it would to get the dirt and get the beds set up. And the two in-ground beds were choked with weeds. And it seems like every year I lose tons to flea beetles. Now I know to spray something like Spinosad or Pyola regularly, like once a week.

I also want to arrange some kind of afternoon shade for the raised beds. Colorado summers are intense. Everything wilts in the heat here. As long as they perk up when the temperature drops and when they're watered, I'm not overly worried. I droop, too, when the temperature heads upwards of 95.

I always envied my grandmother her green thumb. Maybe when I've been gardening for 50 years, I'll have a green thumb, too.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 4:10PM
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We are in different zones, but in Reno, it is high desert. This has been a very strange year for me as far as gardening. I too planted potatoes (first time for me) and put them in 4/10. Nothing happened for 2 to 3 weeks. Finally, some came up, then a frost. Anyway, I started with a 6 inch raised bed, planted the seed potatoes (all blue and yukon gold) down 4 inches and started hilling. Prior to planting I had put in a couple large garbage bags of shredded leaves from the fall prior, 2 wheel barrow fulls of evergreen needles as we have a very alkaline soil here, some Dr. Good Earth fertilizer and additional blood meal (half recommended dose) due to the non-composted organic material. Did one of those cheapie self done soil tests that I had been given and showed a high phosphorus vs average to low nitrogen and potassium levels. Long story short, the potatoe vines shot up so much that I thought they were way overloaded with nitrogen, didnt expect to get anything other than vines.....got flowers on both of the varieties, but I kept mounding chipper/shredded straw around them. Raised the bed another 6" board, then PVC with cut up sheets to hold in the straw maybe 12" LOL. After mounding about 16-18" of straw, I figured, enough is enough. Well, we had a couple days at 108 degrees, several more over 100 and for the most part for weeks it has been over mid 90's. Bottom line is.....plants NEVER wilted, have looked healthy as ever and tonight, being impatient, dug down and pulled up some wonderful looking potatoes. Guess my point is, rules can be broken, microclimates etc. And, after all the heat we have had, my snow peas are still producing but I did plant them where they get some shade. You might consider moving your bags or find a way to cool the roots. Let us know what happens :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 8:52PM
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