Garden and Orchard - Preserving the Harvest

How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

How to Harvest and Store Potatoes
How To Harvest And Store Potatoes

How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

Do you have a bumper crop of potatoes to harvest and store for winter? I’ve been growing potatoes since I was a kid on the farm and I’ve got the step-by-step instructions for digging up your spuds, plus the best time to harvest and proper storage conditions.

Check out The Best Way to Harvest and Store Root Crops for more information.

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes
Potatoes are beginning to form once you see flowers…but don’t rush to dig them up!

When to Harvest Potatoes

You may begin digging potatoes for fresh use 2 or 3 weeks after the plants start flowering.  They will be rather small at this stage, and if you want the most productive harvest you’ll need to wait until the top of the plants turn brown and die back.

I plant extras so that we can harvest our spuds from the beginning of July, continuing until I harvest the rest of the crop and store them in the basement.

You can also read my post, Harvesting New Potatoes where I describe how I harvest a few potatoes without sacrificing the entire plant.

Once the tops die back, the entire crop may be harvested and stored in a cool, dark place.

Yukon Gold potatoes
Digging potatoes for winter.

Harvest your potato crop on an overcast day when the soil is fairly dry and temperatures are warm.

Using a potato fork or shovel, dig from the outside of the hill or row of potatoes. Place the fork so that it is vertical and you are digging under the hill. This will help ensure that few, if any, of the potatoes are damaged as you dig.

Turn over all of the soil from the hill, unearthing your spuds as you go. Allow them to dry in a shady spot for an hour or so and gently brush off dirt before bringing them in to cure.

Don’t wash your potatoes!

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes
A variety of different spuds.

How to Cure Potatoes

When potatoes are first dug, the skin will be rather fragile and easily damaged.  Spread your spuds out in a single layer to cure for 1 or 2 weeks for the best storage qualities.

Cure them in a dark, cool (55 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit) place with a humidity of 90% or so. This will help heal small cuts and scrapes, and toughen up the skin for longer storage. After this curing process, your potatoes are ready for the winter.

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

How to Store Potatoes for Winter

Place potatoes in slatted wooden boxes, open weave baskets, or mesh bags to allow air circulation and prevent mold or rot. Use shallow containers so that potatoes are no more than 3 or 4 potatoes deep, for the same reason.

As you work, pull out any potatoes with bad spots and use these first. Don’t store damaged vegetables with good ones, because as they rot they may cause perfectly good vegetables to go bad.

Place containers in single layers in a cold (35 – 45 degrees Fahrenheit), dark, fairly humid (85% relative humidity or so) storage spot. Use clean bricks or boards to hold boxes up off of the floor and allow air circulation.

How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

Where Can You Store Your Spuds?

Some spaces that might provide proper storage conditions for your potatoes include:

  • Root Cellar
  • Basement
  • Garage
  • Entryway
  • 3 Season Porch
  • Trenches or Clamps in the Garden

Plastic mesh bags that produce comes in may be cleaned and reused for storing potatoes.  Hang the bags in your storage areas, leaving space between the bags.

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes
Save mesh bags from storebought vegetables for storing your spuds.

Keeping Good Company

Potato quality may deteriorate more quickly when stored close to apples and other fruits that release ethylene gas into the air. Any fruits in your storage area should be separated from the vegetables to prevent spoilage.

Check your boxes of stored fruits and vegetables often for mold or rot. Throw away any bad produce and clean the remaining produce with a mild bleach solution to prevent the spoilage from spreading.

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

Green With Envy?

Well, actually, potatoes turn green when exposed to too much sunlight. The chemical solanine causes the greening of potatoes and eating too much of it can cause illness. So keep the sunlight off your spuds, and cut or peel away the green parts before you eat them.

Wrinkled Or Sprouting?

When humidity levels are too low, potatoes dry out and get wrinkled. Are temperatures too high? Your potatoes will begin to sprout. If you notice that potatoes are getting wrinkled, increase the humidity by placing a box of damp sand next to your potatoes. If they are beginning to sprout, move them to a colder spot that does not freeze.

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

Best Potatoes for Winter Storage

Most potatoes will keep for a couple of months under proper storage conditions. However, some varieties will keep for the entire winter! Some of the best potato varieties for winter storage are:

  • Kennebec
  • Russet Burbank
  • Yukon Gold
  • Katahdin
  • Red Norland

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Put Up Your Potatoes for Winter

Growing, harvesting, and storing potatoes for the winter may not be effortless, but the energy that you put into this wonderful storage crop will be well worth it when you are eating from your harvest in the cold winter months.

Remember to use up the damaged spuds first, keep the temps above freezing but quite cold, keep the humidity levels high…and you should have potatoes last all through the winter!

Growing your own storage crops is a great way to increase your food security, provide nutritious meals for your family, and reduce your expenses!

Do you store potatoes over the winter? Leave a comment and tell us what your favorite storage potato is!

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How to Harvest and Store Potatoes by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre - Learn how to #Harvest #Potatoes properly, the #BestPotatoStorageConditions and where to keep them!

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6 Comments on “How to Harvest and Store Potatoes

  1. Dang! We harvested a bunch of potatoes and put them in the shade on our back porch. I don’t think direct sunlight got to them. However, they turned green! Are they poisonous now? I put them in the garage, but I’m afraid I ruined them.

    1. Hi Lea,
      If they are green all the way through, I would use them as seed potatoes for the next crop. If you can peel off the parts that turned green, the rest should be okay. You would need to eat quite a bit of the green potatoes to get sick, but I would be very careful with children, the elderly, or people who are sick eating any of them.

  2. Great info! We’re getting ready to harvest our first try in garage cans. Didn’t get much flowers, but I know there’s some down inside. Thanks!

    1. Hi Nancy…Enjoy your potatoes! Thanks for reading, I’m glad it was helpful. 🙂

      I still have a few more to dig and then I need to finish curing, then put them in the basement. I still have more squash to harvest and we had our first frost the night before last. Fall is really here!
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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