Harvesting potatoes

sheila83August 14, 2013

This is my first year planting Potatoes. I pulled a few new potatoes about a month ago and they were DELICIOUS! the problem I'm having at the moment is that the plants seem to be dying back now and it feels a little early to be harvesting. HELP!

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Your plants will decide when THEY are ready. Let them die, unless they look disease ridden, they are probably just ready. Plants only last so long and when their time is up, they die.

It does seem early, but lots of things are signaling that fall may come early. We had a night low of 49 last night and that wasn't a record. Tonight is supposed to be that low again. Fall is coming whether we like it or not.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:10PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

And just because the plants die back - assuming the weather is the cause rather than lack of nutrients - it doesn't mean you have to harvest them right now. Especially if the ground is wet don't dig them. They can remain in place for weeks unless heavy rain or a hard frost is predicted. In your zone you would want to heavily mulch them if frost is coming.

Be sure to read up on how to cure and store them before digging.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:52PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

I'm in southeast Texas, and our potatoes were harvested in June. I read that when the leaves start dying back, it's time to start harvesting them. I think that leaving them I the ground would invite pests and rot. I cured them on a covered screened porch with fans for ventilation. I canned some right away, and canned the rest after a couple of months. I could have kept more for fresh storage, but didn't.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:29PM
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txtom50(8a texas)

Leaving potatoes in the ground is not an option if you have fire ants.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 5:30AM
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Keeping them in the ground for any length of time does create the possibility of underground critters 'getting' them. A week or two usually doesn't allow long enough to draw new critters. We sell produce and seldom have any left for storage potatoes.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 8:45AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I didn't mean to start a debate but did you all notice where the OP is located? The ant problems and harvest times of Texas don't apply to her location and harvesting them for sales is a marketing issue, not a potato growing issue.

Believe it or not northern gardeners often store their potatoes in the ground until the ground gets close to freezing. And under a thick layer of mulch they can be left in ground until well into the winter. Even in my zone, where they get planted in March they haven't been dug yet.

It is no different then storing them in a root cellar. And normally no, they do not have to be dug as soon as the tops die back. They don't attract any more pests then they did while they were growing and that is a pest control issue, not a potato growing issue

I am not saying your points aren't valid but they just don't apply in this particular case.

sheila83 - you can learn much more about growing and harvesting - or not - potatoes over on the Vegetable Gardening forum here.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:59AM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

I sure didn't think I answered anything inappropriately by stating how/when we harvest and cure the potatoes. I did notice Sheila is in Wisconsin, and do understand growing conditions/planting & harvesting times are different. That's why I mentioned where I'm located. My answers are based on my own experiences, and each person's experiences will obviously vary. Just trying to share my own. :-)


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Christina818(7- PNW)

Great information! We have been growing potatoes for years but I still consider myself a novice. Our potatoes are acting a little different this year as well. We are growing yellows and reds which we grow every year. They are usually ready by mid September but this year the yellows are already dying back. It will be a couple weeks before they are ready. They all flowered but not like normal. Not very many flowers. We pulled up a couple to see how they were growing. There were only about 5 potatoes in each plant but they were huge! The only thing we did different this year then normal was we didn't cut the seed potatoes. We just put one in each hole. I guess that is a good way to get big potatoes. Next year we will cut them only because we like the smaller potatoes. The big ones still taste great and were awesome fried but we like to roast the small potatoes. I know I didn't really stick with the topic but was just letting you know what I noticed different this year.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:01PM
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We live in Ohio and we dug our potatoes in July, as soon as the vines started dying. We have a problem with voles and chipmunks, and basically have to beat the critters to them.The potatoes are now safely stored in bushel baskets in the basement.
The potato bed is now growing a nice crop of late green beans. Last year we tried planting turnips as a second crop, but we don't have much luck with root vegetables , once the critters find them. One year we had a beautiful bed of sweet potatoes and at harvest time there was nothing left but empty shells
. Last year they did that to my Dahlias, too, The flowers were puny and when I dug them up for winter storage, there was nothing left but hulls. They also ate a $ 15.00 Elephant ear bulb..

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:28PM
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ahbee01(z5 OH)

I also live in Ohio ours are dug up as well! We also planted beans where our taters were growing! I hope we get some beans in time! I also just planted a few cukes and some zucchini too, hoping that I would beat the heat,with the cukes and the zucchini but the heat really never came except one week!! Oh well,usually with our potatoes we see them turn brown and start to die off around the end of July.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:56PM
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I live in SE Ohio, and my spuds came on early as well. They've been dug at least two weeks ago and a bean crop has replaced their spot in the garden. Let's put it this way.........once the tops have started to die back, they're not going to grow any larger and what you have in the ground is it, dig them or not. I dug mine. Dig dirt is right, if you don't have critter problems, they can be left in ground in late season under straw or other mulch clear on up until the ground starts to freeze but bear in mind that cold soil is like storing spuds in a fridge and has the same effect on the tuber.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 9:10AM
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miscindy(5 SW MI)

Glad to read these comments. It affirms what I did. I dug all my potatoes up earlier this week. The plants had totally been eaten by some mysterious bugs I never did see. I put paper bags on the bottom of some shallow plastic bins and layered the potatoes in those with no lid. I am planning to can some in a few weeks. I got 70# of potatoes and all I did was plant the "old" ones from the grocery store I saved all winter in the garage.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 4:41PM
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