It’s an old wives tale that potatoes should be planted on Good Friday. While we wish our soil temps in South Dakota were warm enough every year for that, in reality, it’s rare. The best time to plant potatoes is when the soil is at least 50 degrees, as potatoes can take very light freezes if the air temp dips below 32 degrees.
For those of you new to growing potatoes, make sure you have at least 2 eyes on each piece of potato (you will cut the potato into sections, do not plant the whole potato). You may also wonder if you can just buy a potato from the grocery store. Potatoes specifically used for seed are disease free and are variety true, something a potato on the grocery store rack cannot be guaranteed. While planting your potatoes, plant them 6” deep with the eyes up! A fertilizer rich in phosphorus is great for potatoes.
As your potatoes grow, make sure to hill the potato after the plant has grown about a foot tall. This is very important to allow the tubers to grow. Most potatoes are ready to harvest 70-100 days after planting and there is nothing better than a fresh garden potato. But did you select the right potato?
While growing potatoes is not new to many of you, you may look at all the varieties and wonder which one is right for you. Most gardeners use potatoes for the traditional baking, mashing, and frying. However, storage should also be a factor to consider for the best possible potato growing experience. The best potatoes for most general cooking practices including mashing and boiling are Red Pontiac, Viking and Yukon to name a few. If you are looking to bake potatoes, Yukon Gold again tops the list but also check out our Russet varieties. If you are planting enough to store, make sure you are growing Red Pontiac, Burbank Russet, Norkotah Russet or Viking!