|best way to plant in illinois|
|Late April is the time to plant. Potatoes are started from "seed pieces" rather than from true seed. These seed pieces may be small whole potatoes or potatoes that are cut into 1-1/2 to 2 ounce pieces. Plant the pieces soon after cutting. Be sure that there is at least one good "eye" in each seed piece. Plant seed pieces 10 to 12 inches apart and cover in a furrow between 1 and 3 inches deep. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart. The 24 inch spacing is often beneficial because the plants shade the soil and prevent high soil temperatures that inhibit tuber development.After the potatoes break the surface of the ground, gradually build up a low ridge of loose soil by cultivation and hoeing toward the plants. This ridge, which may become 4 to 6 inches high by summer, reduces the number of "sunburned" (greened) tubers. Harvest potatoes after the vines have died. Handle as gently as possible during harvest. Because the tubers develop 4 to 6 inches beneath the soil surface, a shovel or spading fork is a useful tool for digging potatoes. If you'd like to harvest some "new potatoes" you can dig a few after the flowers fade but before the plants die down on their own.
Sweet potatoes take the same culture, but they need to be planted early so they will have enough time to mature before fall arrives. Some of the best varieties for Illinois include: Beauregard (100 days to harvest, light purple skin, dark orange flesh), Bush Porto Rico (110 days, compact vines, copper skin, orange flesh, heavy yield), Centennial (100 days; orange skin, flesh; good keeper; resistant to internal cork, wilt), Georgia Jet (100 days, red skin, orange flesh, somewhat cold tolerant) and Jewell (100 days, orange flesh, good yield, excellent keeper).