When to plant seed potatoes depends on many factors:
- variety of potato
- location of potato plot
- condition of soil
- protection available
Potato varieties can be divided into three main types & each type has a different growing season:
- New Potatoes, or earlies – planted from January* to March and are ready for digging from May-July
- Second earlies – planted between February* and May and harvested from July to October
- Maincrop- planted in April and harvesting is in September and October
*WARNING – in the UK most potato planting is usually delayed until March, in sheltered and southern areas, or April in colder parts, unless protection is available.
If potatoes are planted too early there is a danger that:
- the seed will rot in the ground if it is wet & cold
- the shoots will be frosted off when the new, tender shoots emerge before the last frost.
Location of potato plot is important:
- Plots in the south of the UK can usually plant a few weeks earlier than those in the north
- Sheltered plots can be planted earlier
- Plots in frost pockets need extra care
The weather for the current year determines when the potatoes can be planted. Temperature, rain & snow effect planting date. Some seasons are later than others, as is 2010!
The condition of the soil must be right. There is no point putting potatoes into wet, cold soil. They will not start to grow & will probably rot off. But the ground can be covered with plastic to keep the rain off, so that the soil is kept dry before planting the potato seed. The plastic will also warm the soil a few degrees.
When protection is available, potatoes can be planted earlier. Types of protection put over seed once planted:
- black plastic
When to plant potatoes in containers
- Late January in an unheated greenhouse, cover with fleece in frosty weather
- Outside in late February in mild southern areas, or April in colder parts. Protect from frosts when forecast.
When considering the best time to plant potatoes there are many points to consider.