When To Pick Potato Plants?

When To Pick Potato Plants
Potatoes can tolerate light frost, but when the first hard frost is expected, it’s time to get out the shovels and start digging potatoes.

  1. Harvest ‘new’ potatoes, small ones with tender skin, 2 to 3 weeks after plants stop flowering.
  2. Harvest larger, mature potatoes 2 to 3 weeks after the foliage has died back.

How do you know when it’s time to dig up potatoes?

Knowing when to harvest homegrown potatoes and how to handle them after harvest helps gardeners end up with the maximum amount of potatoes possible to store for those cold winter months. Potatoes are definitely one of America’s favorite vegetables. Did you know that each year we eat about 125 pounds of potatoes per person? Potatoes are a staple food and many home gardeners plant potatoes to store them for the fall and winter months. Knowing how to take care of your homegrown potatoes is important so that they store well.

Toughen up potatoes for storage before harvest by not watering them much after they flower. Let the potato plants and the weather tell you when to harvest them. Wait until the tops of the vines have completely died before you begin harvesting. When the vines are dead, it is a sure sign the potatoes have finished growing and are ready to be harvested.

Potatoes are tubers, and you want your plant to store as much of that flavorful starch as possible.

Dig up a test hill to see how mature the potatoes are. The skins of mature potatoes are thick and firmly attached to the flesh. If the skins are thin and rub off easily, your potatoes are still too new and should be left in the ground for a few more days. Don’t leave the potatoes that you have dug in the sun for long after they have been dug up from your garden, otherwise your potatoes may turn green, Green potatoes have a bitter taste and if enough is eaten can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Small spots can be trimmed off, but if there is significant greening, throw the potato out. Potatoes can tolerate light frost, but when the first hard frost is expected, it’s time to get out the shovels and start digging potatoes. An interesting place you might not be aware of is the potato museum in Washington, D.C. that contains lots of history, information and artifacts relating to potatoes including antique harvesting tools. As you dig, be careful not to scrape, bruise or cut the potatoes. Damaged potatoes will rot during storage and should be used as soon as possible. After harvesting, potatoes must be cured. Let them sit in temperatures of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for about two weeks. This will give the skins time to harden and minor injuries to seal. After the potatoes have been dug, brush the soil off. Do not wash potatoes until you’re ready to use them. Washing can easily reduce the storage life and encourage mold. Store potatoes in a cool, dark area after harvesting. Too much light will turn them green.

Sometimes before harvesting some potatoes become exposed to the sun because they are just barely underground and not covered with soil. Keep soil over the potatoes to prevent sunlight from turning them green. If you want new potatoes, which are small, immature potatoes about 1 to 2 inches in size, harvest them just before their vines die.

How long after potatoes flower are they ready to dig?

Generally, ‘new’ potatoes are ready approximately 60-90 days from planting, depending upon the weather and the potato variety.

Can you dig potatoes before they have flowered?

Can You Dig Potatoes Before They Have Flowered? – Yes, you can dig potatoes before they have flowered. However, you will be much less likely to get a good harvest. Potatoes dug before the plant has begun to die off will not be at their full potential. If at all possible, wait until the plant has begun to die off to dig the potatoes.

If you harvest while the plant is still green, you will likely only get small baby potatoes. On the other hand, if you are expecting a long frost, it may be better to dig early. At least by digging your potatoes early, you would get some yield. By waiting out a hard frost, you would risk losing the entire harvest.

If you are expecting a short frost, you can use a small greenhouse or frost cover to give the potatoes more time. However, this generally does not work well for a long-term solution. Click here to see this plant cover on Amazon.

Can you leave potatoes in the ground too long?

Potato Storage Tips – Generally speaking, storing potatoes in the ground is not the most recommended method, especially for any long term storage. Leaving the tubers in the ground under a heavy layer of dirt that may eventually become wet will most certainly create conditions that will either rot the potato or encourage sprouting.

Cool humid conditions of 38 to 45 degrees F. (3-7 C.) found in cellars or basements are ideal for most potato storage. Once the potatoes have been harvested, they can be stored for extended periods of time as long as they are kept dry and out of the sun. The leaves and flowers of potatoes are toxic and the tuber itself may become green and poisonous if in the sun, so the lack of light is an important aspect when storing potatoes in the ground.

While most people store potatoes indoors in a cellar or the like, storing potatoes in the ground has long been a traditional storage method, using potato pits for winter storage. When creating a potato pit, proper construction is the key to preventing rot in the spuds and allowing you to dig out only the few you need at any one time.

How long can potatoes stay in the ground?

Do potatoes keep growing after the plant dies? – Once the plant dies, the potatoes are finished growing in size. However, the skin on the potato does harden and cure to make it stronger for storage. We recommend leaving the potatoes in the ground for about 2 weeks after the plants have died off.

Do potatoes continue to grow after flowering?

Vegetable gardeners know that the arrival of August is often also the arrival of potato-harvesting season. If you’re new to growing potatoes, you may find it challenging to know when it’s time to dig them up, but there are some sure signs to watch for that will tell you precisely when it’s time to pull the digging fork out of the shed.

  • As soon as potato plants come into flower, you know they’ve reached maturity and have begun to form their below-ground tubers.
  • The plants will continue to grow and flower for several months, and eventually, they’ll naturally begin to die back.
  • Mature potatoes are ready to dig just a few weeks after the plants have completely died.
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At first, just the lower leaves will yellow, but soon enough the entire plant will turn brown and flop to the ground. After this happens, wait two more weeks before digging up the tubers. By leaving the potatoes in the ground for those extra two weeks, their skin thickens and cures, improving their shelf-life and cutting down on post-harvest disease issues.

  1. When harvesting time arrives, choose a dry day and use a digging fork or pitchfork, or a three- or four-pronged potato hoe, to gently pry up each plant.
  2. Work around the outside of the plant, starting a foot or so from its base and working your way inward so you don’t accidentally spear any tubers.
  3. Be sure to insert the fork down underneath the plant and gently pry in an upward direction to lift each plant up out of the soil.

As you unearth each potato, pick it up and dig around in the loosened soil for more nearby spuds. If you happen to accidentally damage any of the potatoes, use them within a few days. Do not store them with undamaged tubers because any rot that may develop can quickly spread.

  • Once your harvest is complete, brush the potatoes off with your hands, gently removing any excess soil.
  • Do not bruise or break the skin, and do not wash them before storing.
  • Spread the dug potatoes in a single layer in a well-ventilated, dry garage or basement, and let them rest for three or four days.

Store homegrown, fully cured potatoes in cold, dark conditions. The ideal temperature is between 45 and 55 degrees F. Don’t put them where they’ll freeze or store them in the fridge. Protect the tubers from light to keep them from turning green. It’s also possible to save some of your potatoes for next year’s plantings.

After harvesting, separate the smallest tubers and store them in a completely dark box or bin, wrapped in layers of newspaper. Put the box or bin in a cold garage but do not allow it to freeze. They may be shriveled or sprouted by the time planting-time arrives next spring, but the tubers can still be used.

Be aware, however, that saving your own tubers for replanting may increase your chances of developing a disease in subsequent seasons. Pathogens can easily overwinter on the potatoes and be reintroduced to the garden upon planting. Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m.

Why are my potato plants falling over?

Conclusion – When To Pick Potato Plants Potato plants falling over is indeed a cause for concern when we are unsure about the reasons why. From what we have discussed in the article above, we have become more informed and aware of the reasons why our potato plants fall over.

    Potato plants can fall over due to their maturity, and this could be a sign that the potatoes are ready to be harvested. Potato plants fall over due to excess fertilizer causing them to grow too tall. Staking the potato plants can help stabilize them, especially when they are not yet mature. Potato plants can fall over when they are exposed to extreme temperatures. Ensure that your potato plants are kept away from extreme hot and cold soil temperatures by providing the appropriate insulation.

    When should I stop watering before harvesting?

    4 Tips To Get More Yield From Your Buds Before Harvest –

    1. Prune Old, Fan & Shade Leaves – As your flowering stage progresses to harvest and your plant shifts more energy towards bud ripening, many older leaves will start to die. Outdoor grows will especially show these yellowed leaves and they might fall off themselves. Either way, you can cut these fan & shade leaves away (making sure not to get too close to budding sites) so that you “free up” more energy for bud production and ripening.
    2. Less Humidity For More Resin – When your garden humidity is low, then your resin production will increase. In the last 24 hours before harvest, you’ll want to keep the humidity low in your grow room. This helps to increase resin production.
    3. Experiment With Days of Darkness – Some growers report enhanced resin production when they give their crops 1-3 days of complete darkness before harvest. This is thought to work because it’s another way of slightly stressing your plants.
    4. Stop Watering 1-3 Days Before Harvest – After flushing, in the final days of harvest, you can further stress your plants by stopping watering. You want to allow the plant to start to wilt just a small amount, because then the plant “thinks” it is dying and as a last-ditch effort, it will increase resin development.

    Can you harvest potatoes too early?

    The lush green foliage of potato plants (Solanum tuberosum) gives little indication of what’s going on below ground. The plant could look large and healthy, but the potatoes themselves may only be small and immature. If you harvest your potatoes too early, you can miss out on a heavy crop, but if you wait too long, they could be damaged by frost.

    Why are my potato plants so tall?

    Your Potato Plants Are Too Tall – If your potato plants are falling over long before their maturity date, then there is some other problem to deal with. One possibility is that the potato plants have grown too tall. When given too much fertilizer (especially nitrogen), potato plants will grow tall. Overgrown potato plants can get tall due to overfeeding (especially if you use fertilizer that is too heavy in nitrogen). This will promote lots of healthy green growth above ground. However, this will also cause the plant to neglect the production of potatoes, which is the part of the plant you want to eat! Using high-nitrogen fertilizers can cause lots of tall, green growth on potato plants, without giving you much for tubers. For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing your plants, and my article on low nitrogen fertilizers, If your potato plants get too tall, you have the option of using the hilling technique. Hilling potato plants prevents the tubers from being exposed to sunlight (light exposure can cause potato tubers to turn green and become toxic). For one thing, the extra soil will help to prevent leggy potato plants from falling over. For another thing, it will prevent potato tubers from turning green and toxic in the sunlight. You can use stakes to support potato plants that are growing too tall and falling over. You could also drive stakes into the ground along a row of potatoes and tie off a length of twine between them. Do this at various heights (every 6 inches) and let the potato plants climb as they grow. For more information, check out my article on how to support plants,

    When potatoes flower What does that mean?

    Question: Help! I’ve planted four kinds of potatoes. Some are flowering, some are not. Does flowering mean that new potatoes are ready to harvest? How do I know when each kind are ready to harvest? I can’t remember what I’ve planted where, so it is really confusing.

    Answer: Do you know which varieties you planted? Each type of potato has a different “days to maturity” number. For example, Yukon Golds are 70 to 90 days to maturity. This makes them “early season” potatoes because they are ready earlier than some. A “late season potato,” such as heirloom fingerling types, takes about 110 to 135 days to maturity.

    If you recall when you planted your spuds, you can kind of predict their readiness. But it is always best to check directly, by hand. For example, I try and plant at least some of my potatoes by the end of March. It is now the end of June. That’s 90 days of growing that has happening already.

    So it is time to go out and check the early-season varieties such as Yukon Gold and Viking Purple that I planted in late March. I also planted heirloom Rose Finn, in early May. These are late season potatoes that need 110 to 135 days to mature. So far, they’ve only been growing about 50 days. They’ll need another couple of months at least to get to maturity.

    If you can’t remember or don’t know what you’ve planted, grub around the soil below the vines with your hands periodically to feel for tuber development. Young or new potatoes can be hand harvested as soon as they develop. These are a real summer treat, not available at the grocery store.

    Flowering just means that the vines are mature enough and have enough leaf area to start forming tubers. It doesn’t mean the tubers are ready to harvest. Until they reach mature size, your potatoes should be watered regularly though the summer, from 1 to 3 inches of water per week, as needed. Cover the plants with soil and other organic material to protect the tubers as they form, from sunlight and greening of the skin.

    The greening is chlorophyll, which is not harmful in itself but may be accompanied by a high concentration of a toxic compound called solanine. Mounding soil around growing potato vines also makes harvest easier and may prevent water loss. To toughen up your potatoes for storage before harvest, do not water them much after they flower.

    Let the vines die all the way back before you harvest them. Clean your potatoes before storing them. You need only brush the soil off potatoes grown in coarse, sandy soil. But if you grow potatoes in fine, sticky clay soil, your potatoes may need washing. If so, be sure the potatoes are completely dry before placing them in storage.

    Keep in mind that red potatoes, while great for eating fresh, don’t keep as long as yellow or white varieties. Thin-skinned potatoes like reds don’t last as long in storage as those with thick skins, such as Russets. Personally, Yukon Gold is my favorite all-around potato variety to grow at home.

    How do you store freshly dug potatoes?

    CORVALLIS, Ore. – Would you like your homegrown potatoes to stay fresh and last longer? Research has shown there are best practices to harvesting and storing potatoes to ensure freshness, according the Oregon State University Extension Service. “Toughen up potatoes for storage before harvest by not watering them much after mid-August,” said Alvin Mosley, a retired OSU Extension Service potato researcher.

    1. Let the vines die all the way back before you harvest them.” Clean potatoes before storing them.
    2. You need only brush off the soil on potatoes grown in coarse, sandy soil.
    3. But if the soil is fine, sticky clay, your potatoes may need washing.
    4. If so, be sure they are completely dry before placing them in storage.

    Minimize tuber exposure to light while cleaning. Cure newly dug and cleaned potatoes for a week to 10 days in a dark, well-ventilated area with moderate temperatures and high humidity, and they will last longer. After curing, slowly drop the storage temperature to about 40 to 45 degrees for table use.

    1. Potato tubers are about 80 percent water, depending on the variety, so high storage humidity is recommended to prevent shriveling.
    2. Storage temperatures below 45 degrees can cause sugar buildup or sweetening.
    3. Fried products from such tubers are darker and oilier than those from tubers stored at higher temperature.

    While low temperatures can ‘sweeten’ tubers, high temperatures often lead to excessive decay, shriveling and sprouting. Sort out and cull injured and diseased spuds before storing them long-term. Store only healthy potatoes in well-ventilated containers.

    Eat the ones hit by your shovel and those with bad spots or disease in the first month or so after harvest, as injured potatoes don’t last. They also may spread spoilage or disease microorganisms to other potatoes. Make sure to keep the storage area dark as light will turn tubers green and make them unfit for table use.

    The green color is caused by chlorophyll, common to all green plants. Chlorophyll is harmless but is frequently accompanied by high levels of a toxic alkaloid called solanine. While small quantities of solanine are harmless, too many green potatoes can lead to illness.

    1. Therefore, discard all potatoes with excessive greening.
    2. Grow potatoes that keep well.
    3. Red potatoes usually don’t keep as long as yellow or white varieties.
    4. Thin-skinned potatoes don’t last as long in storage as those with thick skins, such as russets.
    5. Late-maturing varieties almost always store better than early types.

    “With proper storage, well-matured potatoes will stay in good condition for seven to eight months,” Mosley said. When storage temperatures exceed 45 degrees, potatoes should keep for two to three months, but sprouting and shriveling may occur. “Planting sprouted, shriveled tubers the following spring is not recommended because of excess disease levels, particularly viruses,” Mosley said. Want to learn more about this topic? Explore more resources from OSU Extension: Home Food Safety and Storage

    Should I dig up all my potatoes?

    Harvest Maincrop Potatoes as Early Potatoes – If you cannot find potatoes specifically bred to be first or second earlies, you can still harvest new potatoes from maincrop varieties. Beginning in July, use your hands to pull the soil or mulch from around a plant.

    Take just a few baby potatoes from the surface, then cover the plant back over. Taking a few potatoes from each plant won’t hurt it, and the rest of the potatoes can continue growing into big storage potatoes. Though you can harvest many main-crop potatoes as earlies, or carefully dig a few out after the plant has flowered, I think it’s best to grow types specifically bred to be earlies.

    They’ll crop earlier and be bred for flavor and texture. I don’t often grow maincrops, but when I do, I tend to leave them to grow into the biggies they’re supposed to. Pink Fir Apple potatoes, a delicious maincrop fingerling variety

    Can potatoes stay in the ground after frost?

    Can Potatoes Stay In The Ground After Frost? (Harvesting Potatoes After Frost) – Potatoes can stay in the ground after frost. If the potato plant above ground survives the frost, then it can continue to grow the tubers. Don’t leave potatoes exposed out in the sun, or they’ll turn green and produce toxic solanine. If the potato plant does not survive frost, the tubers will still be safe underground – they just won’t grow any more. You can harvest the tubers at any point after the plant dies back. A potato left out in the sun will turn green and produce toxic solanine. Image courtesy of user: Anicius Olybrius via: Wikimedia Commons: https://commons. wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Evil_green_potato.jpg Bring your potato tubers indoors to brush the dirt off and cure them before storage.

    • It might be in your best interest to leave the potatoes in a dry, warm area (out of sunlight) for a short time.
    • According to the University of Michigan Extension, it will take about 2 weeks for potato skins to toughen up (this prepares them for storage).
    • Don’t wash them, though – that could lead to mold growth.

    Only wash your potatoes right before you use them for cooking. You should store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place to prevent them from sprouting. If your potatoes do sprout, you can learn how to plant sprouted potatoes in my article here. Potatoes are technically perennial, but are often treated as annuals in gardens – you can learn more in my article here.

    Do potatoes continue to grow after flowering?

    Vegetable gardeners know that the arrival of August is often also the arrival of potato-harvesting season. If you’re new to growing potatoes, you may find it challenging to know when it’s time to dig them up, but there are some sure signs to watch for that will tell you precisely when it’s time to pull the digging fork out of the shed.

    As soon as potato plants come into flower, you know they’ve reached maturity and have begun to form their below-ground tubers. The plants will continue to grow and flower for several months, and eventually, they’ll naturally begin to die back. Mature potatoes are ready to dig just a few weeks after the plants have completely died.

    At first, just the lower leaves will yellow, but soon enough the entire plant will turn brown and flop to the ground. After this happens, wait two more weeks before digging up the tubers. By leaving the potatoes in the ground for those extra two weeks, their skin thickens and cures, improving their shelf-life and cutting down on post-harvest disease issues.

    When harvesting time arrives, choose a dry day and use a digging fork or pitchfork, or a three- or four-pronged potato hoe, to gently pry up each plant. Work around the outside of the plant, starting a foot or so from its base and working your way inward so you don’t accidentally spear any tubers. Be sure to insert the fork down underneath the plant and gently pry in an upward direction to lift each plant up out of the soil.

    As you unearth each potato, pick it up and dig around in the loosened soil for more nearby spuds. If you happen to accidentally damage any of the potatoes, use them within a few days. Do not store them with undamaged tubers because any rot that may develop can quickly spread.

    • Once your harvest is complete, brush the potatoes off with your hands, gently removing any excess soil.
    • Do not bruise or break the skin, and do not wash them before storing.
    • Spread the dug potatoes in a single layer in a well-ventilated, dry garage or basement, and let them rest for three or four days.

    Store homegrown, fully cured potatoes in cold, dark conditions. The ideal temperature is between 45 and 55 degrees F. Don’t put them where they’ll freeze or store them in the fridge. Protect the tubers from light to keep them from turning green. It’s also possible to save some of your potatoes for next year’s plantings.

    1. After harvesting, separate the smallest tubers and store them in a completely dark box or bin, wrapped in layers of newspaper.
    2. Put the box or bin in a cold garage but do not allow it to freeze.
    3. They may be shriveled or sprouted by the time planting-time arrives next spring, but the tubers can still be used.

    Be aware, however, that saving your own tubers for replanting may increase your chances of developing a disease in subsequent seasons. Pathogens can easily overwinter on the potatoes and be reintroduced to the garden upon planting. Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m.