When to dig potatoes
It all depends on the variety. Early potatoes mature about 40-60 days after sowing and are usually ready for harvest by July. However, these vegetables should be eaten immediately, because they do not store for a long time.
To stock up for the winter, late varieties are planted. They ripen up to 120 days, and from the end of August to mid-September, it’s time to dig up the tubers. But these are approximate dates, since each region has different weather conditions. Watch the potato bushes – they themselves will tell about their ripeness.
How to understand that the potato is ripe
The tops began to turn yellow, die off and dry out – which means that the tubers are already ready for digging. Once you notice these signs, you will have approximately three weeks to harvest. Keeping potatoes in the ground for longer than this period is not worth it, otherwise it will be stored worse.
If in doubt, try digging up a couple of bushes. Ripe tubers are easily separated from the plant, and their peel is dense, uniform and does not peel off, like a young potato.
How to dig potatoes with a shovel or pitchfork
Regardless of the tool, the harvesting technology will be the same. Step back about 15-30 cm from the bush, carefully insert the bayonet into the soil, turn the ground over and collect the tubers.
Remove the plant by the base of the tops and remove the potatoes from it. Dig up the soil along the edges of the hole, loosen it with your hands to make sure that there are no root crops left in it.
A sharp shovel can cut potatoes. When using a pitchfork, tubers are less likely to be injured, and it is easier to dig with them. In any case, put aside damaged root crops and eat them first, because they are not suitable for long-term storage.
How to dig potatoes with a walk-behind tractor
Before harvesting in this way, you must first remove all the tops from the potato bed – mow or remove by hand.
On the walk-behind tractor, you need to install a special nozzle – a “foot” for collecting potatoes.
The mini tractor moves very quickly, so you have to make some efforts to drive it smoothly. Driving a walk-behind tractor, move through the row. Then stop, collect the dug up tubers from the field and start working on the remaining rows.
The walk-behind tractor greatly facilitates and speeds up harvesting and will be especially useful on large potato plantations.
What to do with potatoes after digging
Sort the tubers. Set aside damaged and very small ones separately – they need to be eaten first. Sick or green is better to throw away immediately. And a whole and strong potato needs to be prepared for long-term storage. To do this, spread the tubers in a single layer on a newspaper, cardboard or in boxes in a dark, well-ventilated room with a temperature of 10-15 degrees. Leave the potatoes in these conditions for 1-2 weeks. During this time, the peel will become thicker, which means that the crop will be stored longer.