The Q&A Archives: Storing Potatoes After Harvest

Question: I'm digging my potatoes for winter storage. I've read that they need to be held for a couple of weeks before storage. Should they be spread out in a single layer or can they be kept in baskets while curing? How moist should they be kept? Once ready for storage can they be kept in baskets? Also should they be washed before storage or left to wash before use?

Answer: Potatoes intended for winter storage are usually dug about two weeks after the vines have died back, or after a light frost stops the vines but before a hard freeze. This allows the skins time to thicken, making it easier to dig them without marring the skins. After digging, allow them to cure at 60 to 65 degrees for 10 to 14 days with humidity of 85% or more; then store them at 40 to 45 degrees with relative humidity of 90%, being sure to keep them in the dark the entire time. The digging and sorting process tends to knock off most of the dirt, and in my experience they store better unwashed. The curing is best done in single layers if practicable but the storage can be done in baskets or slatted crates or breathable sacks which allow air circulation. As you can tell, it may be difficult for the average home to provide the ideal long term storage conditions, but your potatoes should last about a month at cool room temperature regardless. Good luck with your harvest!

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