How Long After Potatoes Flower Are They Ready?

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How Long After Potatoes Flower Are They Ready? Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables eaten around the world and a common plant that is grown in many home vegetable gardens. However, one of the problems that beginner gardeners have is identifying when the right time is the harvest the plants. How long after the potato plant flowers are the tuber is ready to pick?

When you harvest potatoes is depends upon the type of potato that you grow. For maincrop potatoes, it is best to harvest potato plants around 3 to 4 weeks after the plant has first flowered because the longer that the tuber spends in the ground the larger that it becomes. For early potatoes, the plants can be harvested as the plant is beginning to flower.

However, irrespective of the type of potato that you’re growing it is a good idea to pick only one plant to harvest initially as this will give you a good gauge of the size of the tubers in the rest of the crop. 

For the benefit of those that have not grown potatoes before you can typically expect a yield of around 20oz (600 grams) per seed potato planted for an early potato and typically around 4lbs (2kg) for a maincrop potato.

How Long Does Each Type Of Potato Take To Produce A Crop?

Generally, there are three types of potatoes that gardeners referred to which are first earlies, second earlies, and maincrop potatoes. Typically, first earlies will take approximately 10 to 12 weeks to produce a crop, whereas second early potatoes will take more like 12 to 14 weeks and maincrop potatoes will typically take around 16 weeks to produce the crop.

In the case of main potatoes, I generally harvest the potatoes as I need them once the potato plants have been flowering for a few weeks. Usually, what happens is that more than half of the crop reaches the point at which the potato plant completely dies back. At this stage, the tubers will not get any larger and it is recommended that you harvest them all and store them in a cool dark location.

How To Get An Early Crop Of Potatoes?

To produce earlier crops of potatoes there are a few tricks that you can employ to make sure that you get really early potatoes. The first method is to grow a small number of early potatoes in a grow bag which is a common practice. However, if you want to try and accelerate the harvest by a few weeks the growbag can be brought inside and kept in a warm location. 

This will allow the potatoes to be planted around 2 to 3 weeks earlier than normal, however, it also means that you will need to ensure that once the plants begin to appear that they have sufficient light in a warm indoor location. 

In addition to this, it is also extremely beneficial to chit early potatoes before they are planted. Chitting is a technique that has attracted some controversy with some gardeners saying that it has little effect on the harvest while others swear by it. However, academic studies have shown that chitting is very beneficial when you are trying to get an early harvest.

The reason for this is that chitting allows the potatoes to sprout before they are placed in the ground encouraging more rapid early growth. This has a significant effect on the size of the tuber that is harvested early in the season as they have had significantly more time to develop.

However, if you are growing main crop potatoes chitting has almost no effect on the final yield it is achieved because the unchitted potatoes catch up progressively over time which means that the extent of benefit reduces with the age of the potatoes.

The optimal way to chit potatoes is to place them in a cool location that is just above freezing,  temperatures of around 40F are ideal. The potatoes also require light so somewhere like a greenhouse is often a good location to place the potatoes. The timing of when the potatoes are chitted is not overly significant. As studies have shown that the length of time that the potatoes are chitted for does not make that much of a difference provided that it is longer than 2 weeks or so.

In addition to chitting it is advisable to ensure that the growbag itself is black in colour to maximize the absorption of solar energy. It is also a good idea to place the growbag near large brick walls that have significant thermal mass if they are to be stored outside. And, lastly, it is also advisable to cover the growbag with a clear plastic bag to ensure that the heat from the sun is held around the potatoes to maximize the temperature and therefore the growth rate.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success growing your potatoes at home, if you have any additional questions or comments please leave them in the section below.

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