Potatoes Not Forming - Knowledgebase Question

North Little Rock, AR
Avatar for pasrose
Question by pasrose
April 14, 1998
I've had my soil tested by the county, and it tested OK. I use 13-13-13 fertilizer at the recomended rate. I have bought seed potatoes and also tried cutting them myself and letting them seal. I plant as early as I can--sometimes as early as the end of Feb. We have raised beds and have a soaker system so we get plenty of water. They seem to grow real good tops but not many potatoes, if any at all. I make sure that the potatoes I cut have enough eyes and flesh.The ones I cut do seem to grow better than the bought ones but still not near like they should. In case you haven't guessed we have a small backyard garden. We have had this problem since we started. I sure hope you can help.

Answer from NGA
April 14, 1998
If your potato plants are growing well--good, lush green foliage, no major insect or disease problems, then you are doing everything right when planting. Also, that tells me that your soil is just fine. Are you waiting long enough to harvest your potatoes? Begin harvesting when the plants begin flowering, for small "new" potatoes. Harvest full-size potatoes once the foliage begins to die back. Sometimes too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, will encourage the growth of the foliage at the expense of the tubers. I would cut back on your fertilizing once the plants are about a foot tall, and see if that helps stimulate them to produce tubers. Also, have you been hilling them? Once the plants are about 6 inches tall, gently mound the soil up over the plants, so the top few inches are showing. As the plant grows, continue every two weeks or so until the flowers appear. This mound of soil will give the plant extra room in which to develop tubers. Also, don't overwater--try to keep soil evenly moist, watering only as necessary when there hasn't been enough rain. I hope you get a better harvest this year!

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