new potatoes, how???

imtoobusy(z6b)August 2, 2004

I have planted potatoes for the first time this year and have a question. I keep asking around but no one seems to give me an answer I can use. I want to dig up some new potatoes to sell to my customers (all 8 of them) but I am not sure when I should do this. If I stick my hands under the dirt and dig around I have been told that the plant is as good as dead so I should just plan on digging it all up at once. I have also been told that I should just wait until the foliage dies back and dig it all up then- take any small ones and say they are "new" and leave the big ones in the sun to get their skins cured a bit. Are you selling new potatoes and do you have to successivly sow the potato plants so that you can have them every week? Then do you have a different crop for storage potatoes?

Oh, and what are fingerling potatoes? Are they "new russets"? Sigh, sorry for being such a nimwit....

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You can reach in and feel around for potatoes without killing the plant. I grab the bigger ones and leave the smaller to grow.

>wait until the foliage dies back and dig it all up then- take any >small ones and say they are "new"

It's very easy to tell the difference between new and regular potatoes. New potatoes have very thin skin that can be easily pushed back with your finger.

>and leave the big ones in the sun to get their skins cured a bit.

They'll sunburn and become inedible. We dig ours, brush off the dirtiest and let them dry. When they're dry they go to the cellar for storage.

I do sell new potatoes. We started harvesting two weeks ago. We have to grade them to sell them legally. 1.5" is Grade B. 2" and above is Grade A according to Maine's law. The Ag inspector came to our market two weeks ago and looked for potatoes.

We don't succession plant. We use varieties that have different lengths of time to maturity. My best sellers are Red Pontiac and Superior. We also grow Yukon Gold and Russet.

Instead of growing different kinds of storage we leave a row of each kind we want for storage to grow to maturity.

You're not a nimwit. None of us were born knowing everything and none of us will die knowing everything. It's better to ask and save yourself some disappointment than work hard and have little to show for your effort.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 6:46AM
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ohiorganic(5/6 SW Ohio)

Okay, a new potato is any spud that has not been cured for storage. size is not a factor in this. The small potatoes that folks think of as "new" are actually "B" potatoes ( i used to manage restaurant and other prof kitcherns and this is what the food distributors told me). So if you want small potatroes you dig them up after the plant has flowered but before the foliage dies back. Doing this will mean you get about 1/3 the yield than if you let the spuds get to full size and you will likely stunt the growth of the remaining potatoes, at least this is what always happens to us so we almost never take small potatoes other than with the first yukon golds of the season and those are for us, not our customers.

We do not sell new potatoes but we do 3 plantings about 4 weeks apart so we have a steady supply of pottatoes into Feb. We also plant several types that come in at different times so we end up digging about every week or 2.

A fingerling is its own variety and nothing like a small russet. They have a waxy flesh perfect for salads, roasting and boiled taters but not best for mashed potatoes (though they are still good mashed). I think of them as the top of the line tater


    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 8:48AM
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I start digging about the time I see the 1st blossom and keep digging daily from then on. I sell them by 8 qt. baskets as new field run taters. cant wash them, even the spray washes off the skin. They sell like crazy. I do put the smallest in a seperate basket and they are the 1st to go. Ah, creamed baby taters and peas.!!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 6:44PM
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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

I have found that selling small potatoes alongside green beans works well. Customers are cooking them together. Current price is at least $1.00/qt basket in our market. Next year I will be attempting to grow exclusively small potatoes, and have devised a strategy to get them.

I noticed that some commercial varieties of potatoes are described as needing "close planting to control size". In order to grow jumbo potatoes, spacing is increased. In general, yields(in pounds) are said to be the same, but spud size differs, with closer spacing yielding smaller but more numerous potatoes.

So it seems that, rather than harvesting very early and sacrificing(or damaging) much of the crop seeking the smaller sizes, it would be better to plant intentionally for growing the smaller sizes, and harvesting them all as usual, perhaps slightly earlier for thin skins.

Since ordinary recommendations are for 12", I will try 6" spacing in the row and maybe tighter spacing than usual between rows as well. I'm hoping for good yields of the smaller sizes, and will likely use red pontiac as certified seed is readily available locally, and red seems to be a customer indicator for "new" potatoes.

Wish me luck and stay tuned for the harvest report next year.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 11:35PM
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Jay, that sounds like a great idea. Are you going to do a few plantings so you will have a continuous crop of small potatoes? I have noticed the price in the stores of these little potatoes are more like $3 per quart or more!!! At least that is what it is around here.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2004 at 10:42PM
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