Avoid These 15 Mistakes for a Better Potato Harvest


Potatoes are common in many dishes because you can serve them mashed, roasted, fried, boiled, or baked. Besides providing vitamin C, these carbohydrates also make digestion faster and act as a thickening agent in soups and stews. To avoid low yields and waste your time, energy, and resources if you are considering growing potatoes for these benefits, you must be aware of these common mistakes.

Planting at the Wrong Season


If you plant potatoes too early, the cold can damage them while they’re young. Likewise, seeding too late can reduce their potential size due to the hot weather. To get the most yield, implant them in early spring when the temperature range is 45-55°F. However, the right time varies according to climate and region, so you should follow the local recommendations.

Failure to Provide Enough Sunlight


Potatoes require direct sunlight for at least 6-8 hours to perform well. Insufficient light can result in leggy plants, reduced photosynthesis, and smaller tubers. They grow better if you place them in a sunny place away from the shades of trees or structures.

Planting Too Closely Together


When you cramp too many potatoes in a small space, they must compete for nutrients, water, and light. Without the right spacing, you’ll reap smaller tubers since they didn’t get what they needed to grow. Plant them about 10-12 inches apart in rows spaced 2-3 feet for proper root development and airflow.

Planting Potatoes in Soil With a High pH Level

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These crops grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0-6.0. High levels of 8.0 can reduce the absorption of phosphorus and iron. It also causes diseases like scabs, which you can avoid by testing the pH before sowing. Still, you can lower it using peat moss or organic matter like compost. 

Overwatering or Underwatering

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Excessive watering leads to mushy soil, which causes tuber rot and limits growth. In contrast, low watering will give you stressed potatoes with smaller tubers. Water them consistently to maintain the ideal moisture, ensuring the earth is evenly moist but not soggy. You can use 1-2 inches per week while adjusting based on rainfall.

Failing to Rotate Crops

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Neglecting to rotate can reduce yields due to depletion and increased pests and diseases. To prevent this, alternate potato crops with different plant families, such as legumes or brassicas, every season. This technique helps replenish soil nutrients, reduce issues, and promote healthier results.

Ignoring Pest and Disease Prevention Measures


Potato beetles and blight can flush all your hard work down the drain if left unchecked. Preventive measures such as crop rotation, using certified disease-free seeds, and applying organic pesticides can help control them. Then, you can supplement with proper monitoring and management.

Placing Potatoes Too Shallow or Too Deep in the Soil


Plant seeding at a depth of about 4-5 inches to protect the tubers from sun exposure. Proper depth ensures optimal conditions for a good harvest. Placing them too shallow can expose them to extreme conditions, especially on a hot or windy day, causing them to turn green and produce toxic compounds. On the other hand, seeding them too deep can hinder sprouting and root growth.

Planting Potatoes in Compacted or Waterlogged Soil

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Compacted soil restricts root spread and nutrient uptake, while soaked ones suffocate roots and cause rot. To get the right conditions, you need to loosen hard areas in the earth or add compost or aged manure to create a more suitable structure.

Not Mulching the Soil Around the Potato

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Mulching helps keep moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, and regulate the soil temperature. If you ignore this important part, any moisture in the soil will evaporate quickly, leaving the ground too dry and hard for tubers to develop. You can apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch, such as straw or compost.  

Allowing Weeds to Grow Unchecked

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Weeds compete with potatoes for nourishment, water, and sunlight. Therefore, regular weeding is necessary to prevent competition. You can weed the patch every 1-2 weeks, removing them by hand or using a hoe.

Using Low-Quality or Old Seed Potatoes for Planting

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Poor-quality seed potatoes may carry diseases or pests or have low sprouting potential, which produces weak or stunted shoots. The right place to get quality is from reputable suppliers who can provide certified healthy varieties. Even after getting from a trustworthy outlet, you must inspect them for firmness, sprouting eyes, and absence of rot or damage before seeding.

Neglecting to Provide Adequate Nutrients Through Fertilization

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Potatoes require essential elements like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for healthy growth and large tubers. You can use a balanced fertilizer, like the 10-10-10 NPK blend. It works the most when you apply it according to package instructions during planting and the growing season.

Not Hilling Up the Soil


Hilling up or mounding soil around the potato plants encourages tuber formation, prevents exposure to harsh weather, and supports root development. It also ensures enough earth coverage and a healthy harvest. To build mounds, use a hoe to gently pad the base with topsoil, covering the stems and lower leaves.

Harvesting Too Early or Too Late


The best time to reap your potatoes is when the tops have yellowed and died back, typically 2-3 weeks after flowering. Collecting them fast may give you immature tubers with underdeveloped skins and reduced starch content. Likewise, harvesting too late can lead to oversize ones with rot and disease.


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