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When to Plant Potatoes

Sprouted potatoes planting time

Plant seed potatoes 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost. Potatoes develop best in the cool weather of spring. The best tuber formation occurs when the daytime temperature is 60° to 65°F (16°-18°C) and night temperatures are about 10 degrees cooler.

Where winters are mild and summers are hot, potatoes can be planted in late winter or autumn for harvest during cool weather.

Potatoes mature in about 100 days, but you can harvest new potatoes (small tubers) any time they reach usable size. For full-size tubers wait until the foliage dies down around the time of the first frost to harvest. Lift potatoes with a garden fork being careful not to bruise them.

Potatoes grow best in loose, humus-rich, well-drained soil. Grow potatoes in full sun. Be sure to keep the soil moist when potatoes are flowering; that’s when tubers are developing. As the stems grow, hill up soil around the stems to give tubers room to expand.

Pay attention to the soil pH when growing potatoes. The best pH range for the highest yield is 5.2 to 5.7. A pH above 5.7 will encourage scab; a pH below 5.2 can reduce the yield.

Planting potatoes

Seed potato planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Jan. 1-Feb. 15
Feb. 8Jan. 1-Feb. 15
Feb. 18Jan. 15-Mar. 1
Feb. 28Jan. 15-Mar. 1
Mar. 10Feb. 1-Mar. 1
Mar. 20Feb. 10-Mar. 15
Mar. 30Feb. 20-Mar. 20
Apr. 10Mar. 10-Apr. 1
Apr. 20Mar. 15-Apr. 10
Apr. 30Mar. 20-May 10
May 10Apr. 1-June 1
May 20Apr. 15-June 15
May 30May 1-June 10
June 10May 15-June 1
Potato seedlings
Potato seedlings

Potato planting details

  • Sowing depth: 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm)
  • Space between plant after thinning: 10-12 inches (25-30cm)
  • Days to sprout: 12-16
  • Days to harvest: early 80-90; mid-season 90-110; late 110-120
  • Storage period: 12-24 weeks
  • Seeds for 100 row feet: 15 pounds
  • Yield per 100 row feet: 250 pounds
  • Suggested Varieties: early—Sable, Fundy, Warba, Irish Cobbler; mid-season—Keswick, Cherokee, Avon, Hunter; late—Kennebec, Netted Gem, Green Mountain

More about planting potatoes:

How to Grow Potatoes

Potato Seed Starting Tips

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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