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When to dig potatoes, or how to determine that the potatoes are already ripe?

All gardeners begin harvesting potatoes at different times. Some people dig out the first plants for food in July, particularly if they have planted early varieties. Others are faithful to tradition and wait until the beginning of autumn to begin digging.

The exact time to start depends on several factors, such as potato varieties, the weather in the area, the frequency of watering and fertilizing, among others. It is crucial not to make mistakes with the timing, as harvesting potatoes at the wrong time could deprive them of supplies for winter.

What is the risk of harvesting potatoes too early or too late?

It’s worth carefully considering the time of potato harvest, as making a mistake even for a couple of weeks can lead to the loss of the entire crop.

The problem with harvesting potatoes too soon is that the skin is still too thin, which makes them more likely to be damaged during harvesting. This can lead to some tubers losing their integrity and starting to rot. If you allow these potatoes to sit in your basement for any significant period of time, they can become a “time bomb”, as rot or mold can spread from them to a large portion of your stock.It is not worth delaying harvesting potatoes in the hope of achieving a more durable skin, as the potatoes will still grow as large until mid-autumn.

Firstly, digging potatoes in damp ground in rain is not a pleasant experience for an amateur. Secondly, the tops of the potatoes turn yellow and completely dry out or rot by this time. You have to search for the bush intuitively by then. Finally, processing and storing the tubers should be done in dry weather. Otherwise, stocks may also rot.

When can I dig potatoes?

Usually in the middle zone, potato harvesting takes place in August-September, when the summer heat has already ended, and the rainy season has not yet begun. However, not only the climate affects the timing, but also the planted variety.

Digging potatoes

To make it easier for yourself to dig potatoes, cut off the drying tops a couple of weeks before and remove large weeds from the rows. This way it will be easier for you to navigate “on the ground” and you will not have to be distracted by additional work in the process.

When to Dig Early Potatoes?

If your potatoes are ones that take 45-60 days to mature and you planted them on the first or second of May, as tradition suggests, you can expect to harvest them in the second half of June or early July. However, you shouldn’t wait for large tubers at that time, and you won’t be able to store such a harvest until at least winter. Therefore, it’s best to plant early varieties either in small amounts (for consumption during the summer or for seasonal sales).

New Potatoes

You can tell that the first few early potatoes are ripe by two main indicators:

  • The potato leaves turn yellow and the stems shrink.
  • Above the bush, there is a slight lifting and cracking of the ground.
    Have you noticed any of these signs? Then your first potato may already be ready for harvesting.

Of course, most of the tubers will likely be the size of a small egg or slightly larger, but for the summer digging season, this is a great result.Remember that you need to clean the top of the potato from the empty ridges. If it decomposes right on the potato plot, it can become a haven for insect pests that overwinter, a breeding ground for disease, and it can look sloppy.

When to Dig Potatoes for Storage?

For those who grow medium-late and late varieties of potatoes, harvesting them in August or early September is an optimal solution. By this time, the tubers have already taken everything they can from the plant, become covered with a thick skin, and stop growing. After the ground part has completely dried out, they can simply be stored underground, but it’s not advisable to leave them in a “vegetable warehouse” for a prolonged period of time.

potato harvesting
potato harvesting

We noticed that the tops of the potatoes started to dry out and turn yellow. Therefore, we plan to begin digging in three weeks.

Of course, the best way to determine whether it’s time to retrieve shovels, pitchforks, and cultivators from the barn is by allowing a “trial” instance. Choose two or three bushes with varying degrees of top shrinkage on the field, and dig them up. If the skin of all the tubers is thick, does not hang “in rags,” and most of the potatoes have already detached from the bush, or if it is easy to do so, then you can begin harvesting. If certain bushes with green tops appear to be immature to you, then skip them – they will be mature in the second half of September.

Dry potato tops.

The excavated potatoes should be dried in the shade for several hours before being harvested for storage. They should then be carefully cleaned of any dirt and sorted. Any tubers with mechanical damage, rot, holes or gnaw marks from insects should be discarded or used immediately.

The selected potatoes should be placed in boxes or mesh bags and left in a cool, dry place with an air humidity level of 90-95% for one week. During this time, any infected or wilted tubers that may have appeared will be easy to identify and discard.

potato harvesting
potato harvesting
Nikolas White
Nikolas White

Hello, there I am Nikolas White, content creator specializing in family narratives, moving lifehacks, and lifestyle trends. With expertise in gardening and storage solutions, his writings blend personal experiences with actionable insights.

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