How Long Can You Leave Potatoes In The Ground?

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Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to grow at home in your own garden. They produce masses of tubers and can be stored for several months making them all the most favourable crops to grow. However, if you are growing potatoes for the first time you may be wondering how long can you leave tubers in the ground?

Potatoes can typically stay in the ground approximately 2 to 3 months after the foliage of a plant has died back without affecting the quality of the potatoes.However, if they allowed to continue to remain in their ground indefinitely they will start to develop an unusual pattern and texture in the fleash which makes the potato progressively less edible over time.

If the potatoes are left in the ground indefinitely they eventually start to the produce new sprouts and start to grow. So as a general rule, most gardeners recommend that potatoes be removed from the ground as soon as the foliage dies back.The main reasons for this other it is best to get the potatoes out when you know exactly where they are on the ground and secondly it makes way for the next crop to go onto the ground to maximize productivity. 

Can The Potatoes Be Harvested Before The Plant Dies Back?

Potatoes can definitely be harvested before the foliage of the plant grows back, however, in most cases is best to wait until at least the plant has started to flower as that is usually an indication that the tubers are approaching a reasonable size. If you leave the plant in for longer the tubers will get larger up until the point at which the plant has died back.

If you have several potato plants in the ground and you do want to harvest early it is best to harvest one potato plant at a time as you need them to maximize the time in the ground. To accelerate the size of the crop early in the season it is also been shown that chitting will aid in increasing the size of the potato tubers early on.  

However, research has shown that chitting does not affect the size of the overall crop if the potatoes are allowed to grow to full maturity as Unchitted potatoes catch up to chitted potatoes progressively throughout the season.

Typical you can expect to get approximately 4 to 5 lbs of potatoes from a main crop of potatoes or if you’re growing early potatoes in a growbag it is common to get a yield of approximately 1 lb per seed potato.

Will Potatoes Resprout If They Are Left In The Ground?

As mentioned earlier in the article potatoes will definitely start to re-sprouts in the ground. This typically happens once the weather in proves in the following season and it is actually a quite a common problem for gardeners. This is because even when you think you’ve harvested every single potato from your patch there is sometimes one tuber that you’ve missed which will start to produce potato plants.

The size of the tuber that will regrow is relatively small. You only need a small potato the size of a marble in the ground for you to end up with new potato plants coming up. So you need to be thorough when trying to remove every single potato tuber from the ground.

How Do You Store Freshly Dug New Potatoes?

Potatoes that have been removed from your garden are generally very easy to store and require relatively little effort. Once the plants are removed from the garden it is best to use a soft brush to remove any excess dirt but do not wash the potatoes prior to storage as this is an unnecessary step that introduces moisture that can have a negative effect upon the long-term storage of the potatoes.

Once the potatoes are ready to be packed away they should ideally be stored in a well-ventilated container that is not air tight. Things like plastic tubs or plastic bags are not suitable for potato storage and your far better to use something as simple as a cardboard box.

Within the cardboard box many people also use straw between the potatoes to further protect the tubers, however, this is optional, but recommended because it reduces the chances of one potato going off and affecting the whole lot.

When the potatoes of packed away they should be stored in a dark location that is relatively cool. It is extremely important that you exclude light from potatoes when they are in storage. If they are exposed to light they will turn green and become poisonous.

If you follow these simple directions you will be able to keep the potatoes for up to 6 months without a problem.This means that you should ideally be planning to grow 6 to 7 months worth of potatoes for yourself in every growing season to make the most of this wonderful vegetable.

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

It is possible to use potato tubers from last year’s crop to grow potatoes in the following season, however, most garden experts recommend that you do not do this and instead use certified seed potatoes. 

The reason that this is recommended is because certified seed potatoes are tested for a range of common diseases to minimize the chances of you having any problems. So if you do decide to use last year’s crops it is best to plant potatoes in a new location to reduce the chances of disease build up which can be problematic for several seasons if you are unlucky enough to have it occur.

I personally have never used anything but certified seed potatoes and I have never had a single problem with disease but I do not live in an area that is not prone to diseases such as blight.I personally don’t think that the money that you saved is worth the risk associated with having a soil borne disease at your house which will limit what you can grow for many years to come, however, at the end of the day the choice is up to you.

Conclusion

Potatoes can be left in the ground for up to 2 to 3 months after the foliage of the plant has died  back, however, most people generally recommend that the plant be harvested as soon as the planted has died to ensure that you get the most from your crop as it can be stored for several months afterwards. 

Relevant Articles

Can You Eat Seed Potatoes?

What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Potatoes?

How Long After Potatoes Flower Are They Ready?

Is It Too Late To Plant Potatoes?

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