The best time to plant potatoes in Missouri is generally in late February or early March to May. Most potato varieties are considered a cool-season crop that needs cold nights and warm days to begin growing. You can expect to harvest your potatoes about four months after you plant the seed potatoes.
However, potatoes can be affected by very cold weather and won’t grow as well if there is frost on the ground. Anytime the soil temperature is about 45°F or warmer can be good for planting potatoes. Some people say you should plant your potatoes in Missouri around St Patrick’s day, which is mid-March. While other gardeners leave potato planting until mid-April or early May. Let’s look at when to plant potatoes in Missouri.
Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Missouri
The optimum temperature range for optimal germination of seed potato pieces varies depending on the cultivar but is generally 60°F to 78°F. Another factor that affects germination is soil moisture content. The optimum range is approximately 60% to 65% relative humidity at the soil surface. It’s best to plant potatoes in the early spring, but the exact time will depend on the climate where you live, the temperature, and which variety of potatoes you want to grow.
Most potato varieties can be planted in Missouri from late February until early May. Sweet potatoes can be planted slightly later, from mid-April to mid-May. It takes around four months for potatoes to grow from the time of planting to harvest time.
Planting a fall crop
You can also plant potatoes in the late summer or early fall, which will give you a crop for Thanksgiving. In southern Missouri, plant your seed potatoes between the 1st and 15th August. If you live in central Missouri, plant between the 1st and 10th of August. Those who reside in northern Missouri will have a slightly earlier planting time from the 25th of July to the 1st of August for a fall crop.
Planting a fall crop is only practical where there is little danger of severe winter injury because frost can affect potato growth. It’s essential to take good care of a winter crop, and they must be kept completely covered when the temperature starts to get lower in the fall.
How to care for potatoes
Three major factors affect the yield of potatoes grown in Missouri: spacing, amount of fertilizer used, and types of cultivars planted. How closely you space them will have a significant effect on yields. To maximize production, it is best to leave at least 2 feet between plants. You can also mulch between the rows to conserve moisture.
Seed potatoes should contain at least one “eye” before they are planted. You can plant whole seed potatoes or cut material. The best way is to cut them into pieces about 2 to 3 inches long.
One advantage of growing potatoes is that it requires relatively little equipment. The only tools you need are a garden fork or spade (for digging the holes) and a hand trowel for covering them up. However, even these can be eliminated if you have access to a rototiller or power tiller.
If you’re using a power tiller to plow the ground before planting potatoes, it should be shallowly rototilled or disked to mix the top soil thoroughly. The tilling depth depends on your crop rotation practices but generally is about eight to twelve inches deep. If you are planting one row at a time, you can till to a depth of about six inches and then cover the seed pieces with two or three inches of soil.
When the seed potatoes are sprouting, it is important to keep them covered with loose straw or dry leaves, so they don’t get sunburned or washed out by heavy rains.
Remember to cover the sprouting potatoes with about two to three inches of straw or leaves and leave at least one-third of the stem sticking out above the material.
When you should plant potatoes in Missouri is late February or early March
There are many factors that go into growing potatoes. However, if you plant quality seed potatoes or pieces under good conditions and keep the soil well cultivated, you can expect to have a good harvest.
It’s recommended that you plant potatoes in Missouri in the early spring in March, April, or May. Many gardeners in the area plant their seed potatoes around St Patrick’s day on the 17th of March. Sweat potato varieties can be planted slightly later, from mid-April to May.