Second Crop Potatoes : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Am I the only gardener in the US who regularly grows two crops of potatoes in the same ground? In Europe, farmers try to be the first to have new potatoes for sale in late June. In Denmark, I asked several farmers what they plant after the early potatoes had been harvested. Many planted fall cabbage family crops but one wise old farmer simply stated "More potatoes"! Those, of course, were for winter storage. I decided to try it in Wisconsin since the effort has always been to have the early potatoes in the ground by 1 April. This has sometimes meant planting snowflakes along with the seed potatoes as well as arranging early delivery of the seed at the local nursery. Kennebecs planted for late harvest and Red Norlands for the early ones. 3 months after planting, the Red Norlands have finished their growth and although there may still be some green remaining in the stems, the underground growth is about done and ready to be dug by the first of July. Those potatoes then keep us in spuds through the summer months while the Kennebecs are for winter storage. Where the Red Norlands had been, a second "early" variety goes right back in after a good addition of aged compost. But is not as simple as dropping bare seed into the ground and must be thought of well in advance. May 1 is about as late as seed potatoes are available so the second crop seed has to sit for 2 months but not 100% inactive. Seed is placed in a 4 inch deep tray filled with bone dry sand. Repeat, BONE DRY! The seed potatoes are then just barely covered with sand and left in a dark place or storage shed. Growth is halted and the seed does not make any large sprouts. 2 weeks before planting, about 15 June, the sand is just lightly dampened. Sprouts will then show up but again will not be very lengthy. What will happen is that there will be a massive root growth taking place in the moistened sand. In those 2 weeks, roots are usually 5 or 6 inches long with a quite large network. When the first crop is dug around the first of July, the second crop seed already has a root system equal to a month's growth of bare seed planted in April. And whereas it takes 3 to 4 weeks to see green leaves on the early April plantings, these are up within 10 days even if planted 6 inches deep. Using varieties such as Yukon Gold or Superior, these are then ready to dig in late September or early October for winter storage. This system has worked for me for a number of years. In some dry years, the harvest has not been as great as with spring-planting as far as numbers of potatoes but the overall weight is often made up for in larger spuds. Having been planted deep enough so that hilling is minimal, moisture in the soil is protected and maintained by a 2 or 3 inch mulching of shredded leaves although this is not needed if normal rainfalls occur. However, my garden is filled with nightcrawler worms that convert the leaves to instant fertilizer for the next year's crop. And before you all write that the second crop of potatoes take too much out of the soil, that is not true as they are not heavy feeders. As long as the gardener continues to add compost and organic matter back into the soil, it is not a problem. And if one starts with disease-free seed, that should also be no worry. I've had potatoes in the same ground for over 10 years and yet to see a single diseased spud. If you have never tried something like this, think it over. Even in a poor year, the resulting harvest is a lot better than watching weeds grow for 3 months where the early potatoes had been growing!

-- Martin W. Longseth (, July 03, 2001


Hi Martin!

Thanks for the info!!! I've wondered if second cropping potatoes was a possibility, especially with the different varieties now available. This could could have lots of possibilities, including growing a second crop as fodder....

Would You consider submitting this post for the magazine?



-- Randle Gay (, July 03, 2001.


Great idea. I'll have to try it next year. I agree with Randle, you should consider sending this in to the magazine. Thanks for the info.

-- Murray in ME (, July 03, 2001.

I've heard that you could plant a second potatoe harvest but I never could find any seed to try it with. Here in Oklahoma you have to buy your potatoe seeds very early cause all the stores will run out by mid April. Also we get a annual drought starting in mid July and can last until mid Sept. and then we usually get our first frost about in mid October. So planting a fall garden can be very tricky. I've wondered if you could use regular store potatoes. Usually in the summer time you can't hardly find any potatoes in the store that isn't full of bulging eyes.

-- Russell Hays (, July 03, 2001.

I purchased all of the seed potatoes in early April. The early potaotes were planted and we are now using them, but the plants are still green and we haven't dug them. We saved the Yukon Gold potatoes for the second planting and they were planted today in the ground that the radishes were growing in earlier this spring. The late crop potatoes were kept in the refrigerator and could be stored in a cool cave. This is the first year I have tried this having heard of it last summer from some "old timers". I always have to throw out sprouted potaotes in Feb. or March and am looking forward to homegrown potatoes for maybe the whole year? If not we will enjoy what keeps even just a month or two longer. Jean

-- Jean (, July 03, 2001.

Having lived in WV for five years the gardners there always plan to have their seed potatoes in the ground by St. Patty's Day. Then as soon as they are harvested they plant new seed potatoes as well as double cropping green beans, onions almost anything with the usual fall crops all the seed stores, hardware stores and etc. there have seed potatoes for that time of year or they save their own potatoes for seed. A lot of the gardners in WV depend on eating from their garden exclusively. I knew of people who haven't been out of their hollar for generations. Flat land there is short so some gardens are on hill sides. The growing season is extended there. While we were there we bailed hay 3 times, the last time in mid Oct. however the growing season may be shorter where you live. I also had volunteer potatoes come up after the fall digging in the spring and they produced good. Hope this helps you Martin

-- Linda in Indy (, July 03, 2001.

What a coincidence. Here I was, out doing my second planting of potatoes today and came in when it rained to get a sandwich and logged on since it was raining so hard.

I'm planting some variety of red wax potato and some that I think are Yukon Gold -- they're third generation organics that I saved from last year's crop in buckets in the garage. I turned in some rotted manure while I was at it, especially since our soil is so sandy at the opposite end of the state. Mulching is a bit of a problem, put down black paper last year to suppress weeds til they got started and the mice absolutely FROLICKED under it, having Potato Parties. This year I didn't mulch at all, had to weed a bit more until the potatoes got going and shaded out any competing weeds.

I plan to hill these rather than mulch because of the rodents. Many as I trap, there are still more doing disproportionate damage.

I've still got more potatoes sprouting than I had room for, so I'm going to set up some potato bins and give that a try. The mice may invade that, what with the straw it uses, but then perhaps they'll leave the ones in the ground for me. If not, there's still the trap line.

-- julie f. (, July 04, 2001.

Conserning potatos, as a kid my grandfather would plant normally, and then raise the hills to about 1 foot high. As potatos were needed they were taken from one side of the hills only, the earth was then returned. After digging one side completely he then flagged the area and started to dig from the second side until it was deleted. Goung back to the original side new potatos were formed; no second planting was ever needed.

-- mitch hearn (, July 04, 2001.

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