Potato varieties fall under three main categories that you’ll hear called different names but basically they are: early, mid, or late season potatoes that all take different length of times to grow.
Early season potatoes take anywhere from 60 to 90 days, mid season 90 to 110 days, and late season potatoes take 110 to 140 days before they grow to maturity.
Depending on the variety of potato you’re growing it will take 60 to 140 days before they are mature and ready to harvest. Choosing to harvest new potatoes will speed up the process. You can harvest new potatoes as quickly as 50 days after planting.
Harvesting new potatoes means you are harvesting your potatoes on the early side. This way you will get potatoes sooner in the season but you are sacrificing size that the potatoes would have grown into if left in the ground until full maturity. Here are some other benefits and tips to harvesting new potatoes.
Choosing a Potato Variety to Grow
The chart below displays some of the more popular varieties and information about them. Dormancy is only important if you live in a warm winter area and are planning on a fall potato planting. Dormancy refers to the length of time a potato needs to remain dormant after harvest before it can be sprouted and used as a seed potato.
|Variety||Maturity||Color of Skin||Color of Flesh||Yield||Dormancy||Culinary Use|
|Rose Gold||Early||Light Red||Gold||Medium-Heavy||Medium||All Purpose|
|Dark Red Norland||Early||Red||White||Medium-Heavy||Medium||Roasting, Boiling|
|Yukon Gold||Early-Mid||Gold||Light Yellow||Medium-Heavy||Long||All Purpose|
|Adirondack Blue||Early-Mid||Purple||Blue||Medium-Heavy||Medium||Roasting, Baking|
|Adirondack Red||Early-Mid||Red||Red||Medium||Medium||Excellent Boiled;
Potato Salads, Pan Frying; Baked, Roasted, Grilled
|King Harry||Early-Mid||Golden||White||Medium||?||All Purpose, Great French Fries|
|Carribou Russet||Mid||Brown||White||Heavy||Long||Baking, Frying|
|Kennebec||Mid-Late||Light Yellow||White||Heavy||?||All Purpose|
|Magic Molly||Mid-Late||Deep Purple||Purple||Light||Short||All Purpose|
|All-Blue||Late||Dark Blue||Blue||Medium||Medium||All Purpose;
|Russian Banana Fingerling||Late||Gold||Gold||Light||Medium||Roasting, Boiling; Potato Salad|
Choose early, mid, and late season potato varieties based on specific goals.
If you want potatoes as soon as possible choose early varieties that make good new potatoes. If you want to eat potatoes out of the garden throughout the summer have early and mid season varieties. If you want to have potatoes to store through the winter you’ll want late season varieties.
Other things to consider are potato taste, texture, and appearance or choosing varieties that consistently produce large yields.
The Yukon Gold variety and is a versatile potato in more ways than one. It can be harvested early as a new potato or left to mature and able to store well. It can be prepared any way you like in the kitchen but IMO is especially good for mashed potatoes. White potato varieties in general are all-purpose potatoes.
Russet potatoes are starchy potatoes that are the traditional potato for french fries or baked potatoes. They have a fluffy interior baked or fried.
Blue or red fleshed varieties are waxy potatoes that hold their shape well when boiled making them good for soups and potato salads. They also make for spectacular plating and pack a nutritious punch.
Some people have had the privilege of making a red, white, and blue potato salad or bowl of chips with their own red, white, and blue potatoes.
Shopping for seed potato at local garden stores or farmer markets sometimes gives the best results. A farm market by me always has the biggest seed potatoes. Also the varieties you find in the local garden stores are likely varieties that are commonly grown and do well in your area.
Wood Prairie starts shipping their seed potatoes in the fall a month after they harvest them. Most others ship in late winter/early spring.
Speed Up Potato Growing by Chitting Potatoes
Chitting, also called pre-sprouting or greensprouting, your potatoes provides several benefits. By breaking the potato out of dormancy and getting sprouts coming out of the potatoes before planting you can speed up the harvesting of potatoes by two weeks.
By getting potatoes in the ground and growing as soon as possible in the cool spring you’re giving them more growing time in their ideal climate.
This additional two weeks to the growing season allows gardeners to grow some varieties that they could not grow otherwise. You also reduce the risk of the seed potatoes rotting in the cold wet spring soil by getting them ready to grow as soon as they hit the dirt.
Chitting can take 4-6 weeks but if you are not able to move your spuds to a lower temperature area of 50 degrees after sprouting aim for a shorter chitting time, 2-3 weeks.
When seed potatoes have been overwintered they enter a dormant stage that they need to be broken out of. Breaking potatoes out of dormancy is done by moving the potatoes into a warm area, 60 to 75 degrees, with a normal amount of ambient light.
Depending on how many you have you can stack them a few layers deep in crates or have them in egg cartons near a window with the most eyes facing up. You can also use fluorescent lighting if you have a large number of potatoes or no room you can use with a window.
After a week or two the seed potatoes will have started sprouting. At this point, to keep everything optimal you should move the potatoes to a room with a lower temperature of around 50 degrees and still with a good amount of light.
If this is not possible you can keep them in a warm temperature and they will still sprout just fine but long exposure to a high temperature may cause them to lose some of their vigor before being transplanted outside. If this is the case it’s a good idea to chit the potatoes for only 2-3 weeks.
Hopefully when you are done chitting the seed potato sprouts will be 1/2 inch to an inch long and a decent thickness. If you find the sprouts long, thin, and spindly it’s probable they were not getting enough light.
You should have at least two sprouts per piece of seed potato. If you have a lot of sprouts coming off your seed potato you can remove some of the smaller ones so your potato makes more good sized potatoes as opposed to lots of small potatoes.
When Are Potatoes Ready to Pick?
Knowing what varieties you planted and how long those varieties take to become fully mature can give you a guide to go by for when to pick potatoes.
The best way to know when potatoes are ready to pick is by watching the plants and waiting for the plant to yellow and brown and die off. Another good way to know if their ready to harvest is to take a peek at the potatoes under the ground.
Please comment below with any thoughts or experiences you have with how long potatoes take to grow or different potato varieties or both.