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When to Harvest Potatoes

There is such a satisfying reward when it comes to harvesting potatoes. Perhaps it is the joy of discovering how many potatoes are growing beneath the surface of the earth or the variety that potatoes bring to your garden harvest. Potatoes are prominent performers in the garden, producing tremendous yields of quality, vitamin-rich comfort foods. They can be used right away after harvest or cured and stored through the cold days of winter.

No matter how you prefer preparing your potatoes, they are a staple in any pantry, and they have versatility like no other vegetable in your harvest. Check out our tips on how and when to harvest potatoes so you can bring these delectable comfort foods from your garden to your table.

farmer holding potatoes in field

There are two ways to harvest potatoes that have to do with when to collect them and the purpose that they will have once harvested. They can be further categorized by their recommended harvest times and divided into early, mid-season, and late-season crops. Early-season plants consume less space in garden beds than other types, and they are less likely to succumb to diseases like blight. They are harvested in early summer, while mid and late-season vegetables are harvested later in the season. Potatoes in each of these sub-categories can be harvested as either ‘new potatoes’ or ‘storage’ potatoes. It can be fun to grow potatoes from more than one grouping to extend your harvest all season

Potatoes that will be consumed right away are called ‘new potatoes,’ and they can be dug up from the ground with a pitchfork. Lift medium-sized potatoes to the surface of the soil and shake away any loose dirt. If there are still very young tubers down there, leave them intact, and cover them up for more growth. Rinse in cold water and use within the next few weeks.

To harvest storage potatoes, allow the plant to proceed through its growth cycle wholly. Allow it to remain well past its blooming time for one or two weeks and then dig up your potatoes with a garden fork. Potatoes should have a firmness to the touch and feel a bit heavy for their size.

Storing potatoes will need one to two weeks longer to cure. Lay them out in a cool, dark place without washing them. After this time frame, the potatoes can be brushed off of any dirt and debris. Store them over the winter in a cool, dark place that hovers around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Discard or use and potatoes that have soft spots right away.

man harvesting sweet potatoes

Recommended Varieties

There are a whole host of varieties of potatoes that have different characteristics when it comes to taste, color, texture, size, and time of harvest. Whether you are craving a creamy, yellow, mashing potato, or a tender red potato, our robust list of spuds will have you eager to start planting and yearning for harvest time.

  • Kennebec’ is an early season, all-purpose potato, which yields a large amount of produce. It has delicate skin and creamy flesh that retains its original shape well when it is cooked, which makes it a premier choice for potato salads, soups, and stews. It is also a great potato for mashed potatoes and French fries.
  • Purple Majesty’ is a fascinating potato to grow and will help you add deep color to the rainbow of foods on your plate. Deep purple skins and vibrant violet flesh have a lovely buttery flavor and smooth texture.
  • Yukon Gold’ is a potato that you have undoubtedly come across at the grocery store and for good reason. It is one of the most quintessential potatoes when it comes to versatility. It is an early cultivar and is superior for holding its shape through boiling, yet still creates a creamy and fluffy, great tasting mashed potato.
  • Burbank Russet’ is a high starch potato that is ideal for baking. If you are looking for a dry, fluffy spud to load up with toppings, a classic French fry, or are simply looking for a mashing potato, russet potatoes fit the mold.
  • Nicola’ is a lovely yellow potato with a thin, yellowish to light-brown skin and golden flesh. It has higher moisture content and a more buttery flavor than its russet cousin and a waxier texture.
  • Red Norland’ potatoes are early season favorites that are perfect for storing. They boast a smooth skin, intense white flesh, and provides strong yields of generously sized spuds.

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Man holding freshly harvested potatoes with text, "Harvesting and storing your potatoes"
Man holding harvested potatoes with pitch fork in the background with text, How to harvest potatoes"

2 Comments

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  1. I live in Arizona at 5,000 feet. I got some potatoes started late in grow bags. We don’t usually get a freeze until around October. Hard freezes don’t hit until maybe late November.

    I do have a small greenhouse. Do you think I can keep the grow bags in there to avoid the freeze? How long will they produce in the greenhouse? Do they come in all at once or spread out over how much time?

    Thank you for your spuds article!

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