In the US, it is estimated that every person eats about 125 pounds of potatoes in a year, which is high enough to push anyone to start growing their own potatoes.
If you are a farmer in Florida and wish to start potato farming, then you might be concerned with some potato farming aspects. This is very important considering that many people consider the climate in Florida not ideal for growing potatoes. This article will answer the question, ‘Can you plant potatoes in Florida?’
Can you plant potatoes in Florida?
Well, potatoes thrive in varied conditions. As such, depending on the ability of the potato variety to resist diseases, pests, and harsh climate, a careful farmer can still harvest well in Florida.
Identifying the hardy potato species that thrive in Florida is a must-do for every potato farmer in this state. You don’t just plant any potato species and expect a good harvest because the climate does not favor all potato species. This article covers the different potatoes planted in Florida and the entire process from planting to harvesting.
Planting potatoes in Florida
Growing potatoes is a lengthy process. Here is an overview of what you need to know before attempting to plant them:
The process starts with seed preparation, then land preparation, planting, watering and weeding, pests control and fertilizer use, harvesting, and lastly, storing.
- Seed preparation: Take a close view of the potatoes to identify the position of the eyes, then use a clean, sharp knife to subdivide the potato into quarters, so you have at least one eye on each piece. Cut enough pieces to fill your planting space and allow them to heal so that they won’t rot when planted.
- Land preparation: For a good harvest, the soil should have a pH of 5- 6. The soils should be well-drained to prevent potato stems from rotting or developing fungi. Ensure the soil is loose to up to 12 inches downwards so the tubers will form and mature easily. The best way to do this is by molding raised rows to plant the potatoes.
- Planting: Dig four-inch holes in the created rows and space of about 3 inches from each hole and 6-8 inches between the rows. Carefully drop two potatoes you cut in each hole while ensuring the eyes are on top. Cover with dirt and light soil, then wait for them to germinate; sprouts should start appearing after around two weeks. In northern Florida, plant potatoes when there is full sunlight from January to March. South Florida gardeners should plant from September to January when there’s enough sunlight.
- Watering and fertilizer: In Florida, watering potatoes is necessary. However, you should remember that too much water can lead to root rot, so water accordingly. Generally, leaves wilting is an indicator that you are not giving the plants enough water. You will also need to apply fertilizer, preferably within 3 to 4 weeks after sprouting and heavy rains. The ideal fertilizer can vary depending on your local area and the potato variety you have.
- Pests control: Potato weevils are the major potato pests that can attack potato plants. Be very cautious and use appropriate pesticides when there is an infestation from pests.
- Harvesting: Potatoes usually mature after 80- 120 days from the planting time. When you see The stems and leaves dry, it indicates that the tubers are mature. Carefully dig the stems and pick the potatoes around them. Those tubers still attached to the stems should be disposed of. Make sure the first frost occurs when you have already harvested your tubers.
Potato species you can plant in Florida.
Here is a list of varieties of potatoes that you can do well in Florida. They are mainly grouped into three groups that have several subgroups.
Even though russet potatoes do not grow well in Florida, there exist a few varieties that can produce respectable yields in the state. Russet varieties that mature early can be planted in a home garden and harvested during the cool months. The most common short-season russet is the Russet Norkotah, which is typically ready for harvesting in 3 months 2 weeks. The tubers are either light brown to dark brown and are netted in skin texture. These potatoes are usually long and have shallow eyes. They are commonly used for baking.
Red skinned potatoes
- Red LaSoda: Majorly grown in north Florida, a standard red-skinned potato sold in grocery stores. It matures earlier than other potatoes grown in the area. The tubers are smooth, and their eyes are quite deep.
- LaRouge: Commonly grown in the southern parts of Florida, LaRouge is a standard red-skinned potato sold out in grocery stores. If you plant this variety, expect medium to high harvest depending on the exact climate and maintenance practices. The tubers are round and possess deep eyes on a relatively smooth texture.
- Sebago: This has been a long-time Florida potato variety that yields moderately. The texture is relatively netted, and the color ranges from buffalo to white. Its tubers are round, and their eyes are quite shallow. Florida residents who are picky with potato flavors cherish this long-time potato species and use it for several potato dishes.
- LaChippers: This is arguably the standard white-skinned potato sold in the markets in entire Florida. It yields highly in the cold winter conditions. The tubers have shallow eyes, are round and have white skin with a smooth texture.
- Yukon gold: This is the new variety of potatoes that you can easily get all year round in the grocery store. To some people, the yields are very high, while to others, it is moderate. The potatoes have moderately smooth textured skin round tubers with shallow pink eyes. The potatoes are famous for their great taste and yellow flesh.
In recent years, other new varieties have emerged doing well in Florida, such as the blue and red flesh potatoes as well as the fingerling variety. You can get them from reputable catalogs, agro vets and garden supply companies. When selecting these potatoes, always select those with a quick maturity rate so you can harvest them during the cool season.
Can you plant potatoes in Florida: Conclusion
Planting potatoes in Florida is possible and promises a good harvest, especially if you plant them during the recommended season. Hopefully, this article will help you if you wish to plant potatoes and you are not sure of which species and how.
Related Article: When to Harvest Potatoes?