Can You Eat Potatoes Right After Harvesting?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 08/25/22 •  6 min read

If you’re thinking about growing potatoes, this article is for you. While it seems like all you do once your potato crop is ready to harvest is pull them out of the ground, there are a few things you need to know before heading into the field. Once the growing season ends and harvesting begins, your potatoes will start to wilt from lack of sunlight and lose some of their nutritional value. So can you eat potatoes straight away after harvesting them? 

Potatoes can be eaten immediately after they’re taken out of the ground. They simply need to be washed remove any access dirt from the surface and then they can be cooked. There is even no need to peel the potatoes if you don’t want to and you can happily eat really small tubers as well that are the size of a marble and they will also taste just fine.

The only thing to watch for is that the potatoes have not started to turn green as they can become toxic in these circumstances. To avoid this issue it is important to earth up potatoes as this will exclude light from the tuber stopping them from turning green and it will also help to increase the yield. 

When Are Potatoes Ready To Harvest? 

The timing of when potatoes are ready to harvest will generally depend upon the type of potatoes that you’re growing. Early potatoes typically need 10 to 12 weeks in a grow bag before they are ready to harvest, whereas second early potatoes tend to be harvested after 12 to 14 weeks and main crop potatoes can take between 16 and 20 weeks. However, this is dependent on the specific variety that you’re growing.

As most potatoes should be planted approximately two weeks prior to the last frost you can typically expect potatoes to be ready from late spring through to mid-summer depending upon your climatic conditions and the varieties that you are growing.  

It is important to note that the yield that you will get from the potatoes will vary depending upon whether they are grown in a grow bag or in the garden and also how long they are grown. Potatoes grown in a growbag will typically produce 1lb of potatoes per seed potato while main crop potatoes grown in the garden will produce 4-5lbs per potato. 

How Do You Tell When Potatoes Are Ready To Harvest?

The key to harvesting potatoes is knowing when they’re ready to be harvested which is difficult to tell when they are underground. However, the easiest way to do this is to wait a week or two after the potato plant flowers and then dig up one plant to see what the size of the tubers are. 

If the potatoes that you dig up from the first plant are quite small it is best to only harvest what you need when you need it and leave the remainder of the plants to grow in the soil as long as possible.

Once the potato plants reach the point at which they have started to die back there is little point in leaving the potatoes in the ground any further as they will not get any larger.

How Long Can Potatoes Stay In The Ground?

Potatoes cannot stay in the ground indefinitely and still be suitable for eating at home. Generally, most people recommend, as mentioned earlier in the article, harvesting potatoes as soon as the plants die back completely. The main reason for this is that the potatoes will not get any bigger from this point in time and removing them makes way for the next crop.

However, they can stay in the ground for 2 to 3 months without a problem but after that, they will begin to develop an unusual inner texture that you’re only noticed when you cut them in half which is relatively tough and not ideal for eating. So generally, I would recommend that you harvest them shortly after the plants have died back.

How Do You Store Freshly Dug New Potatoes?

Once the potatoes have been moved from the ground you can use a brush to remove any large clumps of soil but do not wash the potatoes at this point in time. The reason for this is that you do not really want to get water near potatoes, particularly, before you’re about to store them. Secondly, it also means that you have to do unnecessary work.

The next step is to place the potatoes in a container that is not airtight but will exclude light from reaching the potatoes. Things like cardboard boxes are absolutely fine and some people even put straw between the layers of potatoes in the cardboard boxes to protect them. The containers should then be placed in a cool dark location that is ideally less than 40F. 

If stored like this the potatoes should last several months without deteriorating which means that your potato crop should be able to last you a good percentage of the year. So when your planting potatoes plant enough to cover at least six months of your consumption.

Can I Use My Crop As Seed Potatoes For Next Year?

You can use potatoes from your current crop as seed potatoes for the following year and they will generally grow quite happily. However, is important to highlight that the seed potatoes that you purchase from most garden centers are certified disease-free potatoes. This means that they have actually been tested for a range of the most common diseases in your local area.

The purchasing of seed potatoes, which is obviously more expensive than using the ones you already, have is generally recommended by most expert gardeners because it guarantees that you are not going to end up with major problems with disease which can linger for several seasons.

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Paul Smart