For most varieties of potatoes you should expect to harvest between 8 to 14 potatoes per plant. The size of these potatoes will vary due to how well you have met the growing needs of the plant. Lets examine the background details to the question “How many potatoes per plant?
Your yield will be a reflection of the care you gave your plants during the growing season and the variety of potatoes you choose to grow.
If you plant a combination of early, late and mid-season varieties you should always have potatoes ready to eat. You can choose from russet, red, blue and yellow tubers.
When planting the potatoes, if your seed is large you can cut the spuds into 1 1/2 inch cubes with at least two eyes. This will help to ensure the new seed will have a fighting chance to growing into a plant. Always plant outside in rows for the best yields.
Ideally you should buy seed potatoes from a Nursery or garden centre rather than from a grocery or convenience shops as these potatoes may have had sprout-reducing treatment. This may mean the seed will not grow into a plant when it is planted.
Yield in pounds
You can expect to get about 50 pounds worth of potatoes per 2 pounds of potato seed planted in a good, weed-free growing condition.
So, if you’re planting in a 10-foot long row, this can vary in yield from 20 to 60 pounds. The yield will be influenced by:
- How much Fertilizer is applied
- The amount of sunlight the plants get
- How much water the potatoes will get during their growing season
- If you have addressed any blight in the crop by spraying
- The soil type and drainage
- What the local temperatures are in your area
How many potatoes per plant
On average you should expect 8 to 14 potatoes from each potato plant. Different varieties will product slightly more or slightly less. Growing from each plant you should have 2-3 smallish potatoes 6- 8 medium sized potatoes and 2-3 larger potatoes from each potato plant. The better the potato plant grows grow the larger they will all get.
Increasing potato yield
If you plant your potatoes on a hill, or a ridge this will help to increase your yield. Potatoes grow underground, at the base of the plants stem, so if you plant the potatoes into a ridge, the finely tilled soil will cover all of the potatoes which will help supply nutrients, while preventing waterlogging.
You can easily add more soil to your ridges as the potatoes grow by shovelling up tilled soil from each side of the row to support the stem of the plant. Leave just a few inches of the plant growth exposed and water it properly to increase the yield.
Potatoes desire to be in moist soil, but not too soggy, so water before the soil dries out.
You can retain moisture by mulching and this will keep the weed growth down.
Problems associated with decreased yield
Weeds compete with potatoes for moisture and nutrients. Diseases such as blight and pests like potato aphid can also be a factor in the reduction of potato yield.
Insects and slugs can also damage the developing tubers as well as the plant. Any plants that show signs of disease, such as blight lesions on the stems and leaves, should be immediately removed and destroyed.
There can be a reduction in tubers if there is a significant reduction in rainfall or during very hot weather.
Proper potato care
Potatoes thrive best in a loam soil, fast draining and sunny location. Potatoes need a 5-10-10 fertilizer and moist soil during the growing season.
Growing potatoes on ridges will protect tubers from water logging and help to prevent sunburn.
Containers, stacking boxes or grow bags
There is a slight advantage with growing potatoes in boxes, bags or pots. You just dump out the container and collect your potatoes.
The downside to this is the yields from containers are usually disappointing. It is always a better idea to grow in ridges in the garden or in raised beds. Outside there is a much larger volume of soil around the plants which gives you a much better crop of potatoes
Mistakes to avoid:
– Starting too late
Unless you live in the cool North or mountain states, then there isn’t much point in planting potatoes in June. The potatoes wont have a long enough growing season and the yields will end up disappointing.
– Letting plants dry out
This is more of an issue with sandy soil or in very warm locations with low rainfall. Growing potatoes in containers, urban heat islands and rooftops will also require extra care. In these situations, you should water thoroughly every morning and evening. Plants that have wilted will have reduced yields.
– Using the wrong soil
Potatoes grow best in deep, loose and loamy soil high in P and K with medium to low N. 2 parts garden soil to 1 part compost is the perfect mix for raised beds and hills. If you find that your soil is compacted or too shallow, your plants won’t have enough soil to grow in and yields will be low.
If you’ve decided to plant in containers, then it is a good idea to mix in some potting soil as garden soil can become too hard in pots. This can dry the soil out making it harder for tubers to grow.
– Not enough drainage
Potatoes need good drainage, so always choose a good spot that doesn’t flood, even during the rainy seasons. This is unavoidable in some circumstances, but drainage ditches, raised beds and growing in ridges can help keep the plants above water.
– Too many seed potatoes
Too many seed potatoes in a small area will produce a lot of tiny potatoes unfit for eating. Crowding your plants will result in lower yields, not higher ones. Give each seed potato at least 14″ along the row and 30″ between the row.
Follow the points i have listed in this article and you should expect to have a bountiful crop of large tasty potatoes. As with many things the key to growing a good yield of potatoes is attention to detail. Good luck!