Potatoes are one of the easiest crops that you can grow in your backyards. This type of root crop is produced below the ground, so it is a challenge to know when they are ready for harvest or not. This article will tell you when to pick potatoes.
The Two Types of Potato
New Potatoes. All potatoes are considered as new potatoes if they are harvested when they are still small and thin-skinned or about 50 to 55 days from planting for early maturing varieties. The sign that new potatoes have formed is the presence of the flowers. With this, you can already start harvesting.
Storage Potatoes. They are also called main-crop potatoes and are ready at the end of the growing season when the vegetation has turned yellow and begun to dry. Some gardeners cut off the foliage while others allow it to die back naturally. The potatoes need to be left in the ground for about two more weeks. This process enables the skins to thicken up, which makes their storage quality better.
When To Pick Potatoes
It is so much fun to harvest potatoes. It’s like digging for a buried treasure in your backyard. Potatoes have two types – the new potatoes and storage potatoes. Both of their harvesting time and procedures differ. Figuring out when to pick potatoes is a bit challenging, especially for new gardeners. But knowing the basics makes harvesting easier.
How to Harvest Potatoes
On when to pick potatoes, pick a dry day because moisture tends to spread disease and rot, which is very undesirable. The right way to harvest potatoes is to do it carefully. You must avoid piercing or slicing the potatoes when digging them. If it’s inevitable, eat damaged potatoes right away.
New Potatoes. When the plants begin to have flowers, you can already start harvesting new potatoes by taking a few tubers from each plant. It is advisable to use garden gloves and not a tool because this way is less damaging to the potatoes and it makes your hands clean, too. Once you’ve harvested a new potato, you need to push the soil back in place and mound it around the plants.
Storage Potatoes. To harvest storage potatoes, you need to insert a garden fork like about a foot away from the plant. Gently lift the root mass. You have to consider that there may still be a few potatoes in the ground, so use a gloved hand to feel around for the missed ones. Once you have harvested them, gently put them on soil and allow them outdoors to dry off for an hour. Remember not to wash the newly-harvested potatoes.
When harvesting a large area of potatoes, use your favorite garden cart to help you carry the load.
How to Store Potatoes
Before storing potatoes, they need to undergo a curing process. This method helps the skin to thicken up and extend their storage life as well. Potatoes can be cured by laying them on a newspaper or trays in a cool, dark spot, about 50 to 60 F, 10 to 15 C, with high humidity for one to two weeks. You need to have a room that has good air circulation.
Once cured, you have to remove any that have signs of damage. Then move the potatoes to load baskets or containers with ventilation holes. Don’t pile them too deeply because it will cause rotting to spread. You also need to cover the containers with sheets of newspaper to block the light.
Your storage area should be more relaxed than the curing site and be dark and well-ventilated. Consider a temperature of 40 to 45 F (4.5 to 7 C) with high humidity. Under suitable conditions, storage potatoes can retain its quality for six to eight months. You also need to check them regularly and remove any that starts to rot.
Picking potatoes requires time and process to achieve good results. Now that you have already had an idea of when to pick potatoes, you will enjoy planting them from now on, and you will be more encouraged to experience the joy of harvesting potatoes. Whether for business purposes or personal consumption, it’s important to know the best time to harvest potatoes. Know more about potatoes.