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When to Harvest Potatoes? Best Secret Revealed!

Potatoes are probably used more than any other vegetable in the United States.

Not only are they an important part of our delicious breakfasts, such as hashbrowns, but they are also an excellent food source containing carbohydrates for humans.

It has been estimated that each year, one person in the United States consumes about 125 pounds of potatoes.

After getting to know this, it also seems reconcilable to see farmers struggling to grow, harvest, and store potatoes for usage in colder seasons.

 

When to Harvest Potatoes

Harvest potatoes between August to September when the vines have completely died, and no foliage is green anymore. If the vines are still somewhat undone, you should leave the potatoes for a few more days. It totally depends on the weather, when, and how quickly the vines die.

When to Harvest Potatoes?
When to Harvest Potatoes?

It can be very tricky to know when to dig potatoes up. They are grown as tubers, which means that they do not grow above ground level.

Instead, they develop deep inside the ground, and these tubers are actually the parts that support the vegetable’s nutrition and healthy bits.

It would help in knowing when they are ready to be harvested. Therefore, much knowledge and effort go into ensuring that potatoes are being harvested when they are fully developed, and no growth potential is wasted.

 

How to harvest Potatoes?

 

Test on One Tuber

To make sure that the potatoes are ready to be harvested once the vines have completely died, dig up one tuber so that you can check the texture of the potatoes coming out.

The potatoes that are ready to be harvested have a thick skin that is firmly attached to the flesh inside.

If you find that the skin of the potatoes is still too slimy and is coming off with the slightest rub of a finger, you should let the other tubers stay underground for a few more days before harvesting.

To make sure that the potatoes are ready to be harvested, dig up one tuber so that you can check the texture of the potatoes coming out
To make sure that the potatoes are ready to be harvested, dig up one tuber so that you can check the texture of the potatoes coming out

 

Save Potatoes From Direct Sun And Frost

For the ones you have already dug out from the ground, it is advised not to leave them in the sun because they will become green from direct sunlight exposure.

Such green potatoes, if eaten, can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, if some potatoes have become green, it is best to throw them out immediately.

Although potatoes can tolerate a little bit of frost, they will be damaged in excessive frost.

So, if you find that there is a forecast of heavy frost, it is time to get your shovels and start digging all the potatoes, no matter how fully developed they are.

Make sure that while digging, you do not scrape or cut through the potatoes. Scraped or cut potatoes will not survive and will need to be used immediately after in order to save them from rotting and developing a foul smell.

Already dug out from the ground, it is advised not to leave them in the sun because they will become green if eaten, can lead to food poisoning
It is advised not to leave the potatoes in the sun because they will become green if eaten, can lead to food poisoning

 

Store The Potatoes

After the potatoes are out of the ground, it is now time to let them sit in cooler temperatures so that minor injuries, if any, seal up and the skin of the potatoes hardens.

A temperature of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 15 degrees Celsius) must be ensured where you are storing your harvested potatoes for two weeks.

A temperature of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit must be ensured where you are storing your harvested potatoes for two weeks
A temperature of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit must be ensured where you are storing your harvested potatoes for two weeks

 

Ready to Use Potatoes

After two weeks of being kept at a cool temperature, the harvested potatoes are now ready to be used.

You can brush the soil off their skin, but do not wash the soil from all the potatoes at once. Wash them only when they are to be used within the following few hours.

Dipping the potatoes in water when they are not to be used immediately will shorten their storage period and also make them prone to getting rotten.

You can brush the soil off their skin, but do not wash the soil from all the potatoes at once
You can brush the soil off their skin, but do not wash the soil from all the potatoes at once

 

Different Types of Potatoes

There are three basic types of potatoes called starchy, waxy, and all-purpose potatoes.

While most of these types are used interchangeably in our daily routines, each of them has varying characteristics.

As the name suggests, starchy potatoes have a high concentration of starch and usually release a milky liquid when cut. They have a floury texture and are very long in shape.

Waxy potatoes have a lot more moisture and sugar than starch and are used vastly in making soups, salads, and casseroles.

All-purpose potatoes serve a somewhat mediatory function between the starchy and waxy potatoes.

Different Varieties of Potatoes
Different Varieties of Potatoes

 

Frequently Asked Questions About When to Harvest Potatoes

 

Can I leave the potatoes in the ground for too long?

Although storing potatoes in the ground, even after being fully developed, is a common practice, it is not usually recommended by experts.

Keeping the potatoes in the ground for an unnecessarily extended period of time will result in rot. The potatoes may also become smelly and soft, which are bad signs.

 

Can I dig my potatoes from the ground before they have flowered?

Yes, you can start digging the potatoes from inside the ground before they have flowered.

However, this is not recommended as potatoes harvested before the plant has fully developed flowers will not be as delicious as the ones harvested after flowering.

Moreover, such potatoes will also not have acquired their full size, which means that you will be settling for less than what you could have.

 

Why are my potatoes too small?

There can be numerous reasons why your harvested potatoes are too small, including lack of nutritious soil, water deficiency, and lack of proper sunlight exposure.

However, these problems can be easily solved by maintaining a good quality of the soil, ensuring an appropriate watering schedule, and fertilizing the ground at least once every year.

Conclusion To When to Harvest Potatoes

It is time to harvest potatoes once the vines lost all their leaves between August to September.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.