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Question on my potatoes

Posted by ChickenCoupe 7a (seobonbon@gmail.com) on
Mon, May 19, 14 at 20:23

I planted the first week of April. They're strong and tall. The soil has compacted and seems thin, now. but, then, I don't really know how to raise potatoes. I planted them about 6-8" below grade and hilled them up with surrounding dirt. I don't think I've watered quite enough. They are in dappled shade in the late afternoons. Since the plants vary in size, I think they're getting enough sun. Will they grow taller if the soil is compacted.

As you can see,I planted the rows too close together. Something is telling me I should hill them up some more. or find a way to loosen the soil. I check and only see roots. I think some are about to set tubers.

Another option is to throw tires over some and put in soil. Don't know if it's too late for that. I'm thinking I can easily get another month's growth since they receive that dappled shade.

I don't know. Thoughts?

Or should I just leave them alone.

bon


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Question on my potatoes

Some are blooming. They really look great other than some seem very tall.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

They look fine other than being a little leggy. That's likely due to being shaded. I wouldn't try to loosen the soil. You might tear off developing potatos. If they were mine I wouldn't do a thing except monitor for potato beetles and water when they get dry. Then when the blooms fall you may want to carefully steal a few potatoes from the biggest plants. After that wait for them to die back and dig. We usually dig around the first of July. If after digging you find that the soil is too compacted, then you can add organic matter to loosen it up. Just don't add woodashes. Potatoes like to grow in acid soil and woodashes are alkaline.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Look good to me also, Sounds like your doing the right thing,I hill mine up twice, Once when there about 6-8 inches tall then again when there about 6-8 inches tall so the hills are about 12 inches high, I also side dress them with 10-10-10 the first time I hill when they are calling for rain, I planted mine about the first week of April and I'm getting ready to hill for the second time tomorrow, Then I will fertilize them again when they flower.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Thanks everyone. I might throw some more dirt on some. I'll fert with worm tea this week, then.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Since you didn't plant them until April, I'm not surprised you only see roots/stolons and not tubers yet. They need a little longer to form tubers. I agree with what Dorothy said about them being leggy due to the shade they're in. You really can't do much about that now, but it could affect the yield, so in the future you might try to put them somewhere that has a little less shade, if you have a sunnier spot available.

Maybe you're overthinking this because I think they will be just fine as they are now. Watch for potato bugs because they are easy to control if you catch them early before they can reproduce and create a larger population. Watch for the development of early blight, which will look exactly the same on potato foliage as it does on tomato foliage.

In a normal year, potato plants here will continue to set tubers and size them up until the soil temperatatures hit 85 degrees. So, by keeping the soil cool you will allow your plants to continue as long as possible to set and size tubers. I mulch to keep the soil cool. Some people seem to have the idea that if they hill and hill and hill, endlessly they'll get more tubers. I don't know if that works anywhere, but in our climate it doesn't because it is temperature that controls whether tubers set or not, and each variety has a general DTM date so you cannot keep any variety setting tubers for much longer that what is normal for it.

I'll just add this as food for thought for next year: April is a little late in our climate to plant potatoes. Early thru mid-March is more typical. By planting later, you cut a couple of weeks of production time off the potato plants' available growth period. Here in OK, we're always in an endless race to get the cool season plants to produce as much as they can before it gets too hot for them. I've noticed that in general, the earlier I plant, the bigger the yield, all other things being equal. With our erratic temperature swings in late winter and early spring, it is tempting to plant later than recommended so that the plants won't get hit by a late frost or late freezing temperatures, but planting later tends to lead to decreased yields. There's not a right or wrong solution to this conundrum because earlier plantings can be lost to or at least set back by late cold weather. Just be mindful that planting later is almost always going to cut your yield.

You want to avoid throwing too much dirt on them because, if you end up burying foliage under the dirt you throw on them, you have less foliage to conduct photosynthesis.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Okay. I'll get what I get, then. Always next year... hehe


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RE: Question on my potatoes

just add more mulch?


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RE: Question on my potatoes

More mulch is great, if you have it. One small word of caution on mulch is that if you are hand-picking Colorado Potato Beetles, the smart ones will notice what you're doing and will drop off the leaves into the mulch. They're harder to find in mulch than on bare ground, but I mulch anyway and just scout the plants daily for CPBs. If a few drop into the mulch and disappear while I am hand-picking one day, I figure I'll get them the next day. I haven't seen any CPBs yet, and I hate to say that because it never fails that if I say "I haven't seen any yet" then whatever it is that I haven't seen will show up immediately after I say that.

Bon, Since it is your first year with potatoes, you might not even have any potato bugs. I grew potatoes here for several years before they found my garden.

Also, keep an eye on the soil. As the tubers size up, they can begin to sort of pop up out of the ground. That is why we hill up the soil around the plants---to prevent sunlight from reaching the tubers. If sunlight hits the tubers while they are growing, it triggers the production of more solanine and turns the potatoes green. You don't want to eat green potatoes so you keep the soil hilled up around the plants so the tubers never see the sun, and vice versa. Mulch works the same way. I plant my potatoes so closely together that the sun never will find my tubers. I plant all the potatoes in a raised bed this with 1' spacing in all directions. That might sound like it is too close together and that our yield would suffer, but I've done it that way for several years and we get huge yields with close spacing. Last year we harvested almost 400 pounds of potatoes, which was too many for our small family. I planted fewer this year.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Agree, I plant my potatoes about 14 inches apart with great success, The only reason for the hilling is to prevent the sun from getting them and I use the dirt in the garden and cover the plants almost completly, mulch draws too many critters, I use to pick the bugs but not anymore, Use Captain Black's bug spray,


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I'm glad to hear about the spacing. Bill was helping me and set up the rows and, really, has no idea but a recall from memory as a child on his grandfather's farm. I rarely complain about whatever help I get. He's really beginning to show enthusiasm since everything is getting along. Maybe he's just happy because he doesn't need to mow as much, or at all.

And when I started planting seed potatoes, the energy to change things just wasn't happening. It was intuitive. I figured it would be okay. More likely, something I read somewhere is stuck in the back of my mind. They help each other I often think. Just don't walk on them

Today was the first time I saw evidence of arachnids. And the first time to spot holes on the leaves. Thanks to Dawn reverberating time and again that these things happen when plants are stressed, I checked. They were desperate for water. And Moni's right. I need more mulch. The flowering buckwheat is nearby and there are tons of paper wasps. I'm really hoping they'll help.

I just cannot emphasize how wonderfully the local ecology is responding to everything and I've only just begun (if I can get the darned thing moist) A bee atop the clover stung my toe yesterday. I don't appreciate the brief pain, but truly appreciate the importance of the event. We've refused to mow the yard. That clover just wasn't there for them this last spring. They did enjoy the grape hyacinths which I encourage every spring. But the clover is usually right after the hyacinths bloom and that didn't happen this year. Only now are they blooming.

The hay mulch on the taters is thinned because the birds are desperate for materials! Took me a while to figure it out. I can't complain. At least they're not bothering the wreath on my front porch. They are louder than ever in the mornings because of the garden.

And you're right. I'm pushing the envelope with the new garden. I know it'll take a while for all the bad critters to hit! I've seen the CPB here even before the garden. They haven't found them, yet.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Bon, im glad you posted on this, i planted late and have had a dozen questions about all this since they went in the ground! It's my first year for potatoes so im interested to see what happens! Keep us updated!

Alexis


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RE: Question on my potatoes

ha! I about said the same on your post. lol You must be close by.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

It really isn't a very buggy year at our house, if you don't count the 375 million grasshoppers per acre. That's a slight exaggeration, but not much of one. Of course, the grasshoppers are causing enough trouble to make up for all the other pests that seem to be either nonexistent or late to arrive. Last night I was watching two male cardinals fight over who the garden belonged to. It was a hoot. I tried to tell them that there's enough grasshoppers in there for both of them and all of their friends and family, but they'd rather fight over the territory than share it.

Sharing the ecosystem with all the little creatures is one of my favorite things about the garden, Bon .Today I had the string trimmer out and was using it near the clover that is in bloom and the bees were not happy. I didn't touch their precious clover, but it disturbed them to see me even close to it. I try to avoid picking fights with the bees. Yesterday I raked back some mulch and disturbed a toad. I apologized and quickly raked the mulch back over him before a predator could see him sitting there, blinking in the sunlight and trying to figure out what had just happened. Everyday is an adventure out in the yard and garden, and you never know what sort of wild creature you'll encounter. It keeps you on your toes.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I about jumped out of my skin when I saw the ground move a couple weeks back. Was a toad. lol


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Usually I dig up the toad in the SW corner of the front garden in March or April. This year, he or she wasn't there. So, I guess it had moved to the mulch along the outside of the fence at the NE corner of the garden. I'm just glad it is still around. Of course, it might not be the same toad, but it looks the same. The sudden appearance of a clump of soil moving always makes me jump too and it is always a toad. The other things that move and scare me do not resemble a clump of soil. We have both a dog and a cat who are terrified of water hoses, having survived being bitten by venomous snakes. I have tried to convince them I'm not dragging a 100' long snake around the yard, but to no avail.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

LOL


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RE: Question on my potatoes

We were hungry so we stole some from the biggest ones. Thanks mulberry! The plants are now twice as big as this picture. I didn't take a picture of my first harvest. All I could think about was frying them. And they were gooood! They were in very good form as new potatoes. One was 3" but most were pretty small.

I do see some lower leaves that are yellowing and might resemble early blight. I'll look again, tomorrow and try to compare it to pictures on the internet.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I call blight, but what do I know? I don't think there's any coincidence the yellowing was in tandem with the spider mites.

boniferous's Story

This is a from a different plant. The yellowing begins.  photo IMG_20140601_171349.jpg


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RE: Question on my potatoes

If plants become infected they should be removed and destroyed (not added to the compost heap). However, where potato crops have already developed tubers then these can be saved by cutting away the foliage and stems. Leave the soil undisturbed for 2/3 weeks to kill off any lingering spores so that they don’t infect the crop when it is lifted.

Do I need to remove and destroy the mulch beneath the infected plant?

Should I let the surface soil completely dry before watering again or can I wait until the crop is harvested?


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Well, crum now im worried.. i was tired and pruning on autopilot late this afternoon and cleared out the bottom few branches from a couple tomato plants that were yellowing and somewhat blotchy if i remember correctly.. But looking at your pictures, i wonder if i have a disease? I mindlessly just assumed it was fertilizer burn or the oldest branches dying back, or nothing at all to tell you the truth. I wasn't thinking at all! I also threw it all in the compost bin.. Oops. Ill keep following the thread and see what your potatoes are up to, Bon. I think my toms are up to the same thing!
Alexis


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Yeah. I have a tomato plant with lower leaves looking the same. I didn't really think much of it, either. Hopefully, I'm wrong about what it is.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Bon, When you look at the brown spots on the leaves, do you see concentric circles within them that look sort of like a bull's eye? If so, then it definitely is early blight. In the absence of the concentric circles, it might be something else....but still could be early blight. Sometimes I don't see the concentric circles early in the infestation, but then see them develop a week or two later.

Early blight is the bane of my existence. Some years it is really awful, but other years it is not nearly as bad and occasionally I barely see any it all. There is no real cure for it. The best you can hope for is to take measures that will prevent it from continuing to progress upward on the infected plants or to prevent it from spreading to other plants.

You can spray the plants regularly every 7-10 days with fungicide labeled for use on the types of plants in question, virtually from the first day that plants are transplanted into the ground (with tomatoes) or shortly after potato foliage emerges. You also sometimes see EB on other solanum family plants, like peppers and eggplants. If you start early with the sprays and consistently use them as directed, they can largely prevent EB from becoming established on your plants. The fungicides work by coating the plants and preventing the fungal spores from being able to attach themselves to the plants.

I do not regularly spray anything on any of my plants. I just hate spraying. There's about 5,000 other things I need to do every week that are higher on my priority list. Every year when Early Blight shows up, I say to myself "Next year, I am spraying the plants with fungicide from Day One". Next year rolls around, the Early Blight pops up and I say "hmmm......I hate spraying" and I generally don't do it. This year, I actually sprayed the plants last week with Daconil. It won't help too much with the first 20 plants that I had planted back in late March, which are where the EB largely appeared. It might help keep it from spreading to the other tomato plants that were planted later in other raised beds.

Because EB is airborne, it always will be around, particularly since it infects native nightshade plants that grow all over the place. Can you reduce its impact on your garden? Yes, but primarily by preventing it in the first place. Once it shows up, you're just doing your best to keep it from spreading.

Last week when I decided to try to halt the EB before it could become widespread in the garden, I removed all the infected leaves from the plants and then I carefully sprayed each and every tomato plant in the garden with chlorothalonil (Daconil). The next time I spray, I'll use a different fungicide. You want to alternate the use of two or more fungicides so you don't find yourself with a strain of early blight that develops resistance to chlorothalonil (or any other fungicide labeled for use on the plants you're spraying).

With good garden sanitation practices, you can greatly reduce the incidence of EM in your garden and halt or slow down its spread, but once it has appeared, you cannot totally rid your garden of it in the current growing season.

I just try to nurse along the infected plants until I can harvest all their fruit.

Normally, the EB shows up when my plants have been in the ground a couple of months and are carrying heavy loads of fruit. I feel like they are putting all their energy into forming and ripening fruit at that time, and they don't have much energy to fight the EB. Unfortunately, around the time it pops up, I am putting all my time and energy into a gazillion things that make it hard for me to stop, strip foliage off the plants and spray them. There's only 24 hours in a day, after all.

On some plants, EB rapidly runs wild and moves up the plant with astonishing speed. With other plants, it stays a minor problem, doesn't spread much and doesn't threaten the life of the plants. I've noticed that Early Girl, for example, can bounce back incredibly well from being infected by EB. I'll think the plant is a goner and then it will put out all sorts of new growth and outgrow the EB.

For what it is worth, I've never had Early Blight lesions appear on tomato fruit or potato tubers, even when it has been pretty heavy on a specific plant's foliage. I also rarely see it progress to the stems. In my garden, it largely is a foliar issue only. I think maybe that is because I do remove all the damaged leaves as quickly as I can, and I try to avoid getting moisture on the leaves by largely putting irrigation water on the ground near the plants' roots, and not up in the air with the use of an overhead sprinkler. Unfortunately, with rain, fog, dew, mist, etc., there's always going to be some moisture hitting the leaves. Since we spend a significant portion of almost every year in drought with very low rainfall, it might be the fungal spores don't get to spread as much here as they might spread someplace that rain actually falls from the sky and hits the leaves.

I do not destroy mulch. Maybe I should, but I spend such a huge amount of time gathering mulching materials and spreading them on the ground that I just refuse to drag the mulch out from beneath the EB-infested plants and dispose of it. We need every bit of mulch we have. In unmulched areas right now, there's lots of cracks in the ground ranging from 1/4" wide to 1" wide. In mulched areas, there's no cracking that I have found. (I occasionally rake back the mulch to see if the garden ground is cracking.)

It always is wise to do whatever you can to stop the EB in its tracks, but you also have to figure out if it is the best use of your time. With a huge garden that keeps me busy enough just with harvesting and processing the harvest, and with tomato plants that routinely face assault not just by EB, but also from spider mites, leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs, I just try to keep the plants healthy enough that we can eat tomatoes until we get sick of them, and of course, I want to harvest enough tomatoes that I can make and can a lot of salsa. The same tomato plants that are drop-dead gorgeous in April and May can look horrific by late June or early July, and by then, I just don't care. The spider mites and other pests take such a toll on the plants that by mid-summer I'm just yanking out plants right and left, hanging on to the ones that have proven to be the most resilient. One of the bonuses of planting way too many tomato plants like I do is that you can yank out the sick ones and you still will have plenty of healthy ones left. I might spray from Day One and try harder to prevent EB if I had, you know, 6 or 10 or 15 plants, but with well over 100, a sickly tomato plant is expendable.

I already see the handwriting on the wall. Our rainfall is about 40% of our usual average, the rain keeps missing us, we have spider mites and grasshoppers in huge numbers, and my summer gardening activities will largely come to a sudden stop whenever the fire calls ramp up. Once that happens, I'll be lucky if I even can find time to harvest, much less to scout plants for disease and then treat them. So, I just don't freak out over EB. My plants continue to produce fruit and life goes on. Do they look as good as they once did? No. Will some of them die sooner than they otherwise would? Or course. Will I lose sleep over it? No. I will fight it for as long as I can, but I won't let it make me crazy.

If you can find the concentric circles that confirm it is EB, fight it immediately and fight it hard. That's your best chance of keeping it at bay long enough for the plants to reward you with a nice harvest.

In my garden, EB most often appears on tomato plants, occasionally on potato plants, but rarely on eggplant or pepper plants. There is no way to have a garden that never gets hit by EB---it is a problem worldwide wherever tomato and potato plants are grown. In fact, I just kinda remind myself to count my blessings when I see EB because it is not late blight, which is a much more devastating disease.

Dawn


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RE: Question on my potatoes

bon,
I know at one point we talked about the fact that you and I both have soil that is a little alkaline. I don't remember if that was a potato thread or not, but I wanted to mention that I harvested some purple potatoes yesterday and they definitely have some scab. I'm not worried about it, but I figured it was worth bringing up.
Krista


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Thanks, Dawn and Krista.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Bon, You're welcome. I hope it isn't Early Blight but suspect it is.

Krista, I have really alkaline soil and very alkaline water, but have only had scab one year in the 16 years we've lived here. I did add a lot of peat moss (which is acidic) to the potato growing area when we first broke the ground as well as lots of other organic matter, and we haven't had scab except for that one time.I also do dust the seed potatoes in powdered sulfur before I plant them.

Do you know your soil pH?

There are very specific conditions that favor the development of scab and you won't always have them occur together (I hope) so shouldn't have a perpetual problem with scab. I think that scab is most common when soil temperatures are between 68 and 72 degrees and when the soil is very dry at the same time. With the same temperatures and evenly moist soil, the scab likely wouldn't occur.

Dawn


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I guess it'll be something to watch out for. It's clear that my family wants to try to do hundreds of pounds of potato harvest next year. I wish I could afford drip irrigation for it all. Except when it rains, I bet my soil isn't very consistent.

I may not do that much (about 500 lbs) , though next year because I don't want the bug population to be out of kilter. The buckwheat flowering has drawn in the beneficial, but I'm assuming it takes time for the ecology to adjust. I don't want to breed a bunch of Colorado potato beetles or wire worms before sufficient stores of beneficials arrive. The response has been great, but I don't want to be pushing that envelope too hard.

My son was telling me how excited he will be to see how big the potatoes get. I will, too.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Potato bugs go in cycles. Last year I handpicked them endlessly for about a week---and I mean hundreds of them a day. I don't know where they came from---I watched for them every day and there weren't any. Then, all of a sudden, there were a ton of them. This year we haven't had a single one. I did harvest hundreds of pounds of potatoes last year, and cut back this year, but mostly because I didn't want to have to dig so many. I really dug forever last June and maybe a little into July.

Potatoes here pretty much finish up in June and need to be dug by the end of June, or earlier if it gets very hot all of a sudden. In very hot temperatures, and especially in wet soil, potatoes can just collapse into a rotted mess once the temperatures are very hot.....which likely is a reason that Oklahoma is not a major potato-producing state like Idaho.

Beneficial insects are great but they cannot do it all alone. I don't wait for them to show up. I handpick pests and destroy as needed, but I will stop and leave some pests for the beneficial insects to eat if I see them hanging around on the plants with the problem. You also cannot force beneficial insects to do your bidding. Sometimes I'll see that they are focused on a particular pest when I'd rather they were eating a different pest that I think is more of a problem at that time. You can't make them eat Pest B if they want to eat Pest A.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

We decided we needed some fried taters. Funny how the whole family gets in on the action when harvesting potatoes. And we did it in the dark. Kids say it's like a treasure hunt where they get french fries.

So far the most prolific is the Yukon Gold and everyone really loves them. (Obviously, we cannot leave them alone.)


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RE: Question on my potatoes

After looking at your Yukons, I'm gonna dig some and fry them with fresh red onions this evening.

YUM!


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RE: Question on my potatoes

The other day we were out in the garden and I was swooning at how good the soil was when she piped up, "That farmer really did a good job, Momma!"

Mucho gratitude to you, dear sir!


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RE: Question on my potatoes

What a pretty helper you have. And fresh potatoes, beautiful. I cant wait to see if mine have any.
how do you do that without messing up the plant?
kim


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Bon,
The potatoes and the potato hunter are BEAUTIFUL! I haven't harvested any of my Yukon Gold yet, but I can't wait to try them.
Dawn,
The soil where my potatoes are growing tested 7.8 last year. They are growing in the ground (as opposed to most of my stuff which is growing in raised beds), and the spot where they are growing is definitely not my best soil. This is only my second year in this house. I know the previous owner had some stuff growing in the area where the potatoes are. I grew some Tomatilloes, peppers, and tomatoes there last year, and none of those plants looked as good as plants in the raised beds. I amended the soil with some Black cow, compost from my bin, and mushromm compost and fed the potatoes with some garden tone. I doubt I watered them enough and probably didn't mulch them early enough. So, long story short, they could have scab for any number of reasons. My understanding is that scab doesn't really hurt anything but the looks, so I'm not stressed about it.
Eventually I'll build more raised beds over this spot. I'm not sure that I will grow potatoes again, though. I planted them just to see how it went. Coming from dry New Mexico, I am sure you can imagine how vehemently I hate the humid summers here. I imagined that digging potatoes would be easy, but after digging the few that I have tackled, I see that it is pretty hard, really. The potatoes will have to taste AMAZING for me to sign up for this much work during the heat of summer again!


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Kim, we greedily ripped the entire plants up. I think it was yesterday I read that it is possible to dig without destroying the baby tubers. Of course, there was no description "how". pfft figgers


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RE: Question on my potatoes

ya I would need specifics so I wouldn't damage the whole plant. I only have 8 plants that made it out of 20 so I don't want to risk it yet.
kim


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I can understand that!!


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Krista, My soil initially tested just over 8, but with a gazillion tons of organic matter added to it, it now tests just under 7. That might not sound like a big difference, but it is huge. Our water, which comes from wells in the Thackerville area, also tests fairly high.

There is a form of scab that can ruin the potatoes with deep pits, but I've never seen it here. In fact, we had a very light case of scab once, I think, but having never seen it before, I wasn't sure until later that it actually was scab. (And, we ate them all and they were fine.)

I have become spoiled by the oft-amended soil in raised beds in the front garden. I guess it has been improved for so many years that I have forgotten how bad it was when we started. With the new (last year) garden out back, I am astonished how awful the soil is, but it is better than the soil we started with out front. There's no telling how long I'll have to amend it to get it as nice as the soil in front. Still, stuff grows in it well as long as I irrigate often.

I love growing potatoes until the digging part rolls around. Every year when I am out there digging in the June heat, I insist to myself that I will not plant potatoes next year.....but then I always do plant them again.

The humidity is annoying, but it doesn't get nearly as bad here in Love County as it does in eastern and north-central OK, so I usually only have to deal with it fairly briefly. Often in the summer months, particularly in drought years, our relative humidity is so low here that our heat index number will be lower than our actual temperature. This year is so unfair. We have had rain all around us but very little ourselves, and yet we have ridiculous humidity. It seems to me that if we don't get the rain, we shouldn't have to put up with the higher RH values. In 2003, 2005 and 2006 there were times our relative humidity values bottomed out in the single digits, but we aren't having that kind of year here this year, or at least not yet.

Y'all, to rob potatoes from the plants without harming them, just stick your fingers into the soil (check for snakes and scorpions first so you aren't sticking your hand into a dangerous situation) a few inches out from the plant, and feel around in the soil until you find some. When you find some early potatoes, gently pull them from the plants, pat down the soil firmly and then water it for a minute to help the soil settle down around the remaining tubers. You can steal a few early potatoes from each plant this way, but remember it will lower your overall yields. Still, it is fun to harvest and eat new potatoes, especially if you can cook them with a batch of fresh green snap beans.

My potato plants looked really sad yesterday and worse this evening, so I think they are going to finish up early in the heat and drought. I don't blame them one bit. Officially, our mesonet station hit 96 today, which is pretty hot for potatoes to tolerate, but at our house, the outdoor Mid-Max thermometer hit 99. If I was a potato, how would I feel about 99 degrees? Well, I wouldn't like it at all.

Dawn


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RE: Question on my potatoes

thanks Dawn. I will try that and see if theres anything in there. If not I need to get to the store and buy some in case I have to bury them for my neighbor to dig up, LOL. I don't want him to be disappointed again with no potatoes to dig.
kim


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Okay, now. I'm starting to worry. When is wet too wet?

I worked this soil and it has a lot of natural organic matter, but at about 6" it starts to get muddy as I noticed when we pulled before several days following the heavy rains. Those deeper potatoes were bigger, btw, but it took great effort to scrub them clean. We got some rain this morning and we'll get some tonight and, well, it's looking very wet for us this week.

Bill says the ground is too wet when "it pulls your boot off". LOL Some of these are Yukon and the other batch is from Minnesota. Oh, of course, I didn't plant them orderly nor did I mark them.

I removed most of the existing mulch to help them dry. I could put some fresh clean mulch down, if that will help.

Thanks!


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I"d leave them unmulched until this rainy spell ends. The QPF shows you getting pretty substantial rainfall. If it is correct, your potatoes might get almost more water than they can handle so you wouldn't want any mulch on top of the ground around them retaining moisture. I don't necessarily think your potatoes will rot since they still are actively growing, but you still would want the soil to dry out as much as it can in between rounds of storms.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

This is the way I harvest potatoes and the way I make the ditch to plant them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmYjwnucd4g


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Okay. The soil is perfect right now, so they should be okay from drying out.

Thanks, Mr. Coleman! Looks like I need a better method next year. Bill's mind is constantly on building something attached to the riding lawnmower. hehe


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RE: Question on my potatoes

We dug them all, today. They all doubled in size and we had some new potatoes growing. They are all beautifully shaped and the Yukons are especially pristine. The Minnesota potatoes show signs of scab developing. But because they are relatively young it's not real bad. I don't know why one variety has it and not the other. Only some of the original potato seed show signs of rotting. So far, I have only seen one with nibbling on it.

The Yukons are real winners in that soil. We did not get very much because I planted so late. Maybe 30-35 lbs?

I can see three times the productivity next year in a different location, planted deeper and planted on time.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Congrats on the successful harvest.

Some varieties are more tolerant of scab than others, but all have some degree of susceptibility to it. Several of the varieties recommeded by OSU, like Norland and Norkotah, have moderate resistance to or tolerance of scab.

Rotating the plantings to new areas each year help prevent scab from building up in the soil if you have soil that is in the pH range in which scab is a problem. In general, I don't worry and fret too much about crop rotation, but with potatoes I do try to grow them on a 3-4 year crop rotation because I have highly alkaline soil, and it is a struggle to keep the pH down low enough to prevent scab from becoming established. Moving them each year also keeps the voles busy searching for them instead of the voles just returning to the same place every year because they've learned they are there.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Thanks. Yeah, neutral or slightly alkaline. Add to this my inexperience like not watering enough. I need to rotate, for sure. This was in summer shade. I think I'll plant strips of chard, cabbage, broccoli and, then chard in this spot running in the opposite direction because of rain run off. Learned a lot! Potatoes are great ground-breakers.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

I meant "..and, then alfalfa in this spot.."


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Congrats on the harvest. I am still patiently waiting. I looked in my calendar and I actually didn't get my purple potatoes in until April. So no wonder they aren't ready yet.
kim ...waiting waiting waiting


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Waiting is aweful, innit? Bill was worse than me sneaking in over the last few weeks. I think mine could have gone longer if I had watered them a bit after the rains. We just devoured baked potatoes. It was different and so unusually tender. Bill wants 12 times as much next year. ha!


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RE: Question on my potatoes

The very first time we ate home-grown potatoes, Tim exclaimed "they taste just like dirt" after his first bite, a comment that didn't sound like a compliment to me. What he was trying to convey to me was that they had "an earthy flavor" he adored.

Waiting pays off, though it feels like torture. I always grow either blue or purple potatoes, and some years I grow both. They're my son's favorite potatoes of any of the varieties I've ever grown.

Kim, Have you grown potatoes there before? With the heat we have here, any potatoes I haven't dug before the end of June usually deteriorate in the early July heat (and sometimes in the late June heat) and are soft, watery and rotted when I finally get around to trying to dig them. That experience has caused me to try to finish the harvest by mid-June in a typical year. Last year, I grew too many and couldn't get all of them dug early enough, and in the last row or two that I dug, that rot thing was already occurring with random plants here or there.

Dawn


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Dawn I have not grown potatoes in this particular spot. last year they did not make at all but I believe that was due to lack of sun. Year before I did okay, different garden.
I keep saying I am going to keep better notes but I have not yet. And my memory is so busy with other stuff.
This year they are in a spot that gets full sun from 9 - 3 or 4
Hopefully thats enough. My sons are doing well but I didn't have him plant any purples for me and the whites aren't too good for my blood sugar.
I will eventually get some just have to find the right spot or new land!
kim


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Since this is a good thread about this year's potatoes, I'm piling on - anyone NOT dug their potatoes yet? Mine are flowering and still totally green foliage. I thought I was waiting for the foliage to die down, but I got mine in the ground late, too, so maybe need to dig anyway. Thoughts?


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Yeah, my husband keeps asking me if we can harvest potatoes yet. Yhis is my first try. My plants are pretty shabby looking, but they have not died down. Should I quit watering?


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Mia, If they are just now flowering, you likely have only small, new potatoes right now, so I wouldn't attempt to harvest them yet. You can "steal" a few young new potatoes at this point if you want (we like them with fresh green beans from the garden) or you can just patiently wait for them to grow some more.

Normally, potato plants set and size up the tubers when soil temperatures are below 85 degrees. Since June and early July have been fairly rainy and fairly mild in many parts of the state (until this week, at least), soil temperatures are pretty decent right now and likely are below 85 degrees several inches below your soil surface where the plants are setting and sizing tubers. You can check your county's soil temperatures on the OK Mesonet soil temperature map pages. So, as long as the temperatures are staying in the right range, your potato tubers should continue to form and to enlarge. That's a good thing, because often, by early July, the soil is getting really hot and the tubers have stopped enlarging.

As long as the foliage is green and healthy, the tubers should be in good shape underground as long as your soil is well-drained and isn't staying too wet. Even from a late planting, the potato tubers themselves will continue enlarging until the soil temperatures get hot enough and then your foliage will begin to die back. That is when I would stop watering. Once the foliage dies back, then you decide about when to harvest them.

If you want them for longer-term storage, clip off the dying foliage at the ground level and leave the tubers in the ground for 10-14 days so the skin can thicken up and protect the tubers better in a more long-term storage situation.

If you planted a small amount and intend to eat them up fairly quickly, you don't have to leave them in the ground long enough to develop thicker skin since it won't matter.

One problem with harvesting potatoes late is that sometimes they get so hot in the ground they just start rotting. Of course you want to avoid that. I've never seen that sort of rot occurring when the plants are green and gorgeous, partly because the dense plant foliage shades the ground and keeps it cooler. It can happen after the foliage gets crappy-looking and is starting to die back.

Amy, I don't know when you planted, but think that if they are getting shabby looking (and if the reason is not disease), then they probably are starting to die back. So, yes, I'd stop watering. That will allow the tubers to stop enlarging if they haven't already and to develop a thicker skin.

If either of y'all feel uncomfortable waiting longer because you're afraid the combination of heat and wet soil may cause your potatoes to rot, you can harvest them anytime you want. Potatoes are usable at any size. Remember you can gently probe the soil directly beneath/around the potato plants and see what you find. You should find potato tubers in there, though they may be small if your potatoes went into the ground late. Late-planted potatoes still produce a harvest, but it is a smaller harvest.

I like to get my potatoes dug fairly early, mostly because digging potatoes in 100-degree weather is not very pleasant. The thermometer on our shady, east-facing porch currently shows 103 and our current soil temp is around 100 degrees (that is actual soil temperature a couple of inches below ground right now, not the 1-day or 3-day average), but my potatoes all are dug and in storage inside the house in a cool, dark room.

Next year, if you can get the potatoes in the ground on time (Feb 15 to Mar 10), you can dig them around mid-May to mid-June depending on what varieties you choose and their DTMs. Digging in mid-May to mid-June always gives us plenty of potatoes, and it allows us to get all the digging done before insanely hot weather arrives. One year I waited too late to dig, had to dig in ridiculously hot weather and had some potatoes that dissolved into a gooey mess when I touched them. It is not a mistake I'll make again. Normally, if you get all the potatoes dug here in OK before the end of July, they'll be alright, assuming you aren't having a monstrously wet year and that you don't have very heavy, very slow-draining soil.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Mesonet Soil Temperature Maps


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RE: Question on my potatoes

Thanks, Dawn. Mine are growing in bags on the east side of the house. We harvested one bag about 2 weeks ago, I was not impressed with what we got, so we left the rest till the foliage died back. I don't think we will have enough to worry about long term storage, :)


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RE: Question on my potatoes

We harvested the rest of the potatoes today. I meant to do it sooner, but you know, stuff happens. I would say, had I gone to the store and bought two 5 pound bags I would have had more potatoes for less cost than what I got. This is something DH wanted to grow, so will keep trying. Some of them were trying to sprout, so I guess I should have harvested sooner. I found some completely rotted, maybe the original seed potato? Considering they were grown in bags, wasn't a bad harvest. Going to transplant my sad sweet potatoes into the bags tomorrow, though they may be beyond stressed.


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RE: Question on my potatoes

So sorry to hear that! We had enough to call it "good" but the entire harvest wasn't superb, for sure. I'm noticing some have turned green. I know they weren't green when I stored them. It's not bad, though. I just whittle away at it with the potato peeler. After washing a few, I definitely see some scab.

It's still been so much fun. We have this goofy trial going. Bill decided to plant a budding potato into some tires. LOL

I am totally spoiled with these Yukon Golds. I never bought them in the store because they were so pricey. It's so strange to have these some-what "free" potatoes sitting in a bucket.


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