Potato Types …. Earlies, Second Earlies. Maincrop. Which Should You Grow?

Freshly harvested potatoes

A potato is just a potato. There are of course different sizes and colours. But what about earlies, and maincrop potatoes etc?

It’s really about how long they take to go from planting to harvest. But a lot will depend on where you are, your soil type and the weather … so don’t plant or then dig based purely on dates. Check the plants and see if the crop is ready before digging.

Most books say you should stagger planting with earlies first, then second earlies a few days later, then maincrop a few weeks later, then late maincrop a month or even 6 weeks after earlies.

The reality is these timescales are for farmers that might be planting a hundred acres of spuds. It’ll take them weeks.

Gardeners are different. We can plant all we need in a few hours if we wish.

The crops will then be staggered with maturity dates after planting being around ….
10 weeks for early potatoes
13 weeks for second early potatoes
15 for maincrop potatoes
20 for late maincrop potatoes

Rough and Ready Potatoes?

But this is very rough and ready. Though earlies are ready at 10 weeks we can leave them longer. At ten weeks the yield will be relatively light. Leave them a few weeks and they’ll have more and bigger tubers.

Ditto the others. And there’s nothing to stop you digging main and late main potatoes earlier … they’ll just have smaller spuds and a lighter yield.

So there’s really no date when a crop is “ready”. It’s ready when you decide to dig them. The longer you leave them the bigger the yield. But that means that if blight strikes you can harvest “early” because they’ll have some crop under them.

On farms yields of 75 ton a hectare are common where the crop has been irrigated.

Lastly. Another word about chitting. Chitting advances harvest dates a few days. It makes little difference for earlies as they are unlikely to be still growing when blight strikes. But those few days might make a difference to late mains.

However, many blight struck crops in gardens should have been harvested earlier. The reason they aren’t is because they grew slowly due to weather … and sometimes drought conditions.

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