Potatoes are a highly versatile and much-loved staple food in many households. For many, growing potatoes at home or on an allotment is an excellent way to ensure a supply of fresh, organic potatoes and save some money at the same time.
But one question that frequently arises among both novice and experienced gardeners is: “How long does it take to grow potatoes?”
The answer isn’t straightforward as it depends on a few variables, including the potato variety, the climate, and the growing conditions. However, let’s delve deeper to provide a more comprehensive answer.
Understanding Potato Varieties
Potatoes come in a wide array of varieties, each with unique characteristics, including different maturity times. Broadly, potatoes can be classified into three categories based on their maturity rates:
Early Varieties: Also known as ‘new’ potatoes, these varieties mature quickly, and you can expect to harvest them in about 70 to 90 days after planting. They are generally small and tender, making them perfect for salads and boiling. Some popular early potato varieties include ‘Red Norland’, ‘Irish Cobbler’, and ‘Yukon Gold’.
Mid-Season Varieties: These potatoes mature moderately quickly, typically ready for harvest in about 95 to 110 days after planting. They are larger than early varieties and are versatile in the kitchen. Examples include ‘Viking’, ‘Kennebec’, and ‘Red Pontiac’.
Late Varieties: Late-season potatoes require the longest growing period, typically around 120 to 135 days. They are excellent for long-term storage, making them a favourite for those looking to have home-grown potatoes through the winter. ‘Russet Burbank’, ‘Katahdin’, and ‘Yellow Finn’ are a few late-season potato varieties.
Here is a complete list of popular potatoes to grow and their growing times.
|Variety||Type||Planting Time||Harvesting Time||Growing Duration|
|Arran Pilot||First Early||Late March to Late April||June and July||Approx. 10 weeks|
|Rocket||First Early||Late March to Late April||June and July||Approx. 10 weeks|
|Swift||First Early||Late March to Late April||June and July||Approx. 10 weeks|
|Kestrel||Second Early||Late April||July and August||Approx. 13 weeks|
|Maris Peer||Second Early||Late April||July and August||Approx. 13 weeks|
|British Queen||Second Early||Late April||July and August||Approx. 13 weeks|
|King Edward||Maincrop||Mid to Late April||September and October||Approx. 20 weeks|
|Maris Piper||Maincrop||Mid to Late April||September and October||Approx. 20 weeks|
|Desiree||Maincrop||Mid to Late April||September and October||Approx. 20 weeks|
Climate and Growing Conditions
The length of your growing season and the climate in your region can also affect how long potatoes take to grow. Potatoes thrive in cool, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH. They prefer temperatures between 60-70°F (15-20°C), and the plants can be damaged if exposed to frost.
In warmer climates, potatoes are typically planted in late winter or early spring for a late spring or early summer harvest. In cooler, northern climates, potatoes are often planted in late spring or early summer for a late summer or early fall harvest.
Another factor that can affect the growth rate of potatoes is the care they receive. Regular watering (without waterlogging the soil), hilling soil around the plants as they grow, and protecting the plants from pests and disease, can all help to ensure a healthy crop and timely harvest.
In conclusion, the time it takes to grow potatoes can range from as little as 70 days for early varieties in ideal conditions to over 130 days for late varieties or in less-than-ideal conditions. Understanding the growth habits of your chosen potato variety, the specifics of your local climate, and providing proper care for your plants will all contribute to a successful and timely potato harvest.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!