> When Cool

Potatoes are native to tropical mountains and are easiest to grow in cool (below 70˚ F) dry weather. They can't stand any frost and don't like cold weather. They are grown in mild winter areas, with few frosts, in late fall or early spring.

Potatoes don't do well in hot weather either. Soil temperatures above 70˚ F inhibit tuber formation and it stops altogether at 85˚ F. In hot summer areas, they are usually grown as a spring or fall crop.

> When outdoor temp: 45°F to 75°F, optimal temp 60°F to 65°F
> When min soil temp: 60°F

A temperature of 60 to 65˚ F is said to be optimal for tuber formation, which slows down at temperatures above 70˚ F.

Seed Depth

2.0"-4.0"

The top of the tuber should be planted under at least 3 inches of soil. New tubers only form above the old one, so the deeper the tuber is set into the ground, the higher the potential yield. This is one reason potatoes were traditionally hilled up.

The actual planting depth varies according to soil and season. In England (where spring weather is cool), they tend to plant their potatoes quite shallowly (2 to 3 inches) and hill them up later. They do this because the tubers can easily rot if planted too deeply in cool soil.

In warm soil, you can plant the tubers much deeper. They might be 4 inches deep in a heavy soil and up to 8 inches deep in a light soil.

Spacing

9.0"-12.0", 1 plants per sq ft

Spacing is the biggest factor affecting final tuber size. The closer the spacing, the more competition and the smaller the tubers (however you may get more of them). Researchers found the optimal spacing for highest yield (of fairly small tubers) is two plants per square foot, which averages out to be about 9" apart. Yukon Gold can be left in the ground until fully mature, which is best for storage, therefore we recommend planting 12" apart.

Bed spacing: The traditional spacing ranges from 9" to 12", depending upon variety, tuber size and soil fertility.

Row spacing: Traditionally they are planted 8" to 12" in the rows, with 18" to 24" between the rows.

Spring Crop

4-5 weeks before LFD

Chitting: When you buy seed potatoes they shouldn’t have started to sprout very much, as the brittle and delicate shoots are easily damaged once they start to elongate. To prevent premature sprouting store seed Potatoes at 40 to 50˚ F. It is to your advantage to plant tubers that already have healthy shoots however, because it reduces the chance of rot and hastens maturation (the tubers may sprout very slowly in cool spring soil).

About 2 to 3 weeks before you wish to plant the tubers, you should start chitting (sprouting) them. Do this by setting them out, in indirect light, at a temperature of 55 to 65˚ F (warmer temperatures will cause them to shrivel). The aim is to get 2 to 4 sprouts each 1˝ to 2˝ long on each tuber. If you can’t plant them out as soon as they get to this stage, you should then return them to cooler conditions. Don’t worry if the tubers turn green, the solanine produced may help to prevent them rotting. You should rub off any excess sprouts (above the 2 to 4 required), as soon as they start to sprout, so the tuber doesn’t put too much energy into them.

Some gardeners allow the shoots to grow to 6˝ to 8˝ in length, claiming this increases yields by up to a third and reduces the time to harvest. However the long sprouts are easily damaged and must be handled very carefully.

Early Crop

The first crops can be started as early as 2 weeks before the last frost date, though the soil must be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit and you must take care to protect them from any frost. This is pretty easy when they are barely poking out of the ground; just cover them with soil or mulch (some varieties can even take mild frost).

Fall Crop

12-13 weeks before FFD

Chitting: When you buy seed potatoes they shouldn’t have started to sprout very much, as the brittle and delicate shoots are easily damaged once they start to elongate. To prevent premature sprouting store seed Potatoes at 40 to 50˚ F. It is to your advantage to plant tubers that already have healthy shoots however, because it reduces the chance of rot and hastens maturation (the tubers may sprout very slowly in cool spring soil).

About 2 to 3 weeks before you wish to plant the tubers, you should start chitting (sprouting) them. Do this by setting them out, in indirect light, at a temperature of 55 to 65˚ F (warmer temperatures will cause them to shrivel). The aim is to get 2 to 4 sprouts each 1˝ to 2˝ long on each tuber. If you can’t plant them out as soon as they get to this stage, you should then return them to cooler conditions. Don’t worry if the tubers turn green, the solanine produced may help to prevent them rotting. You should rub off any excess sprouts (above the 2 to 4 required), as soon as they start to sprout, so the tuber doesn’t put too much energy into them.

Some gardeners allow the shoots to grow to 6˝ to 8˝ in length, claiming this increases yields by up to a third and reduces the time to harvest. However the long sprouts are easily damaged and must be handled very carefully.

Late Crop

In many areas you can get two crops of potatoes a year. Time the second crop to mature around the time of the first fall frost. It can be a problem to find seed potatoes for this second planting however, as they generally disappear from stores after the spring planting season. You might be able to use some of your early crop, or you might buy them in spring and store until required .

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