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How to Grow Potatoes in Texas?

When I first tasted fresh potatoes, I knew I had to cultivate them myself. Fortunately, once you know what to do, cultivating them is not difficult.

This article summarizes my several-year experience producing potatoes. I’ve made my fair share of errors, and now I’m passing on what I’ve learned to you.

I live in Texas and the condition is quite favorable for growing potatoes. I tried growing potatoes in Texas in both rounds. By using high-quality seeds, I’ve produced potatoes for a whole year.

You can successfully grow potatoes in Texas. To have a good harvest here, select the quality seeds for planting, follow a proper watering process, and provide an adequate amount of compost and fertilizers.

You can use both seed potatoes and store-bought potatoes for planting. Gardeners do not see much difference in both potatoes.

However, store-bought potatoes are treated with sprout inhibitors; there can be complications. So, if you don’t want to take risks, it’s better to go for seed potatoes.

potato seed
Seed Potato ready for planting. (Source: Unsplash)

In this article, I will guide you through every detail you need to consider while growing potatoes in your area.

Do Potatoes Grow Well in Texas?

Potatoes are grown twice a year in Texas. However, it is believed that they are not viable for various parts of Southern America because they can’t grow in high temperatures. But the assertion is unfitting in the case of Texas. 

Potatoes are a warm-season crop and grow best when daytime temperatures are between 70 degrees F and 80 degrees F and nighttime temperatures stay above 50 degrees F.

Generally; potatoes should only be planted when the temperature inside the soil is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

In comparison to other yields, potatoes are straightforward to cultivate in Texas. In fact, we can call them generous plants because they produce ample harvest once you crop them.

Proper sunlight, sufficient water, and fertile soil will provide tons of potatoes while harvesting.

These conditions exist throughout most of the state of Texas. In addition, some parts of the state have soils that are perfect for growing potatoes.

Talking about the soil types in Texas, it is clay, loamy, sand, and limestone.

Clay soil is the most prevalent type of soil in Texas. Compared to other soil types, it absorbs moisture easily; so, you can plant potatoes in it.

Loamy soil is available in High Plains; it is better for tuber-like vegetation that needs humidity. Most of the harvesters like to plant potatoes in Loamy soil.

Speaking further, potatoes grow in every condition. These tubers grow well in High Plains, Upper coast, Rolling Plains.

potato-seed-texas
Potato seed. Source: Shutterstock

Favorable Condition in Texas for Growing Potatoes

ParametersFavorable Condition
Soil pH6.0 to 7.8
Soil TypeWell drained, Sandy Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Clay Loam
Soil Temperature60°F (Spring season) and 70°F (Winter Season)
Air Temperature65°F to 75°F
Fertilizer Ratio (N-P-K)15-5-10
(Use 120 lbs Nitrogen per acre)
Irrigation1-2 inches of water per week (Either from rainfall or self irrigation)
Harvesting100 to 120 Days
Pest InformationFoliar Feeding Insects, Soil insects and diseases, Nematodes and Weeds
Climatic Condition Potato Leaves are not frost tolerant

Can you Grow Potatoes all Year Round in Texas?

Many of us may wonder whether we can grow potatoes all year round in Texas or not. But, as already mentioned, potatoes can be grown in Texas twice every year.

If the purpose of growing this tuber is for gardening, it may not be easy to grow these plants during the off-season. But, if one intends to do serious farming, it is possible to grow throughout the year.

Traditionally, potatoes grow best from February to March; however, you can still grow potatoes in Texas outside of this time frame. One successful way to extend the growing season for potatoes is to use a greenhouse with a clear roof.

The greenhouse will extend the growing season by 5-7 months, and it will also protect from the harsh weather. Talking about another way, you can extend the growing season by using artificial lighting for 12-14 hours a day.

The climate of Texas is favorable for growing potatoes. These plants are grown either as annuals or perennials.

Furthermore, you can grow potatoes in winters and summer all year round. Therefore, there is no problem regarding the climate.

The Right Variety for your Area

It’s important to know which variety of potatoes to grow in Texas. Here in Texas, we can classify our growing season as “cold.”

So we need to be mindful that many of these potatoes don’t grow well at colder temperatures as they aren’t robust enough.

Therefore, we need to be careful when planting them and ensuring the seeds don’t rot due to cold weather. In addition, the variety of potatoes grown in Texas differs from the varieties grown in other parts of America.

It is because the climate and soil conditions of Texas are different from the rest of America.

Acknowledging this, you can use different potato varieties for different regions to maximize harvest and cultivate better potatoes.

The most common varieties of potatoes in Texas are:

  • Kennebec white
  • Red Pontiac
  • Red La Soda
  • Irish Cobbler

There are other varieties as well:

  • Viking under a red variety
  • Yukon Gold variety under Yellow variety
  • White variety – Atlantic Gemchip and Chipeta Kennebec
  • Russet variety- Russet Norkotah, Norgold M, Century Russet

Choosing Quality Seeds to Start

Seed potatoes aren’t exactly the seeds. These are quite different from regular potatoes which you get from the supermarket. The edible potatoes are sprayed with a growth inhibitor—which prohibits them from sprouting.

Seed potatoes are great because you can plant them throughout the season, and they will usually survive the winter. You can also save money by purchasing seed potatoes in bulk at your local produce store.

The case is different with seed potatoes because it is processed in sprout-inhibitor. As a result, the seed potatoes remain fresh for a long time, and it’s easy to do farming.

Choosing the right seeds is the most important part of starting a new crop. Many different types of potatoes grow in different ways and taste differently.

The key is to find one that suits your area’s growing conditions and what you want in the crop.

Moreover, choosing high-quality potato seeds is crucial because you must match the soil conditions with the potato seed’s needs.

Potatoes are cross-pollinated plants and have been for centuries. So, planting a variety of potatoes in one area can result in a diverse and productive crop.

In addition, as new hybrid strains are developed, they’re often patented.

Be sure to check how many years until it becomes open-pollinated or if there’s an affordable license fee for saving seed from a particular potato hybrid before purchasing it.

Also, there are so many different potatoes to choose from when buying them as seeds; it can be difficult to decide which one will work best for you.

Planters can shop a variety of seeds that are bred, especially for Texas. For example, you can buy seeds that perform well in warm temperatures—or cooler temperatures.

potato-full-texas
Potatoes ready to eat. Source: Unsplash

While choosing the seed potatoes, there are few things you should check for.

  • Seed should be free of chemicals and disease.
  • You should buy medium-sized seeds. The small seed makes the plant weaker.
  • Normally, the size of a chicken egg is an ideal potato seed.
  • Seeds should have at least three eyes per potato.
  • Also, if certified suppliers don’t produce these seeds, it is better to search for another one.

Methods of Planting Potatoes in the Garden

Planting potatoes in the garden is the right decision. You’ll have your own harvesting twice a year.

There are few things you need to ponder while planting it in the garden. Throughout the whole process, you’ll have upsides and downsides.

Here are different methods to plant potatoes in the garden:

1. Hilled Rows

In this plantation process, you have to dig straight and make shallow trenches. While planting the potatoes, make sure that you’re putting seeds approximately 12 inches away. After you plant it, put the scoop of soil and dig it 3 inches deep, and then cover it.

The major benefits of this method are; it is practical, cheap, and easy. You don’t need to transport soil or compost. The watering procedure is also much easier in hilled rows plantation method.

However, the compost may not enrich properly inside the crop. It can cause a defect in the harvest. You have to give more time to the plants if you’re choosing this process.

hilled-rows
Potato seed prepared for hilled rows. Source: Uinsurance.com

2. Straw Mulch

After you make specific space for hilled rows, you can put four inches of seed-free straw. The straws make potato plant stem grow quicker and make it healthier. Also, the insects and harmful pests will not infest potato plants after you put the straw.

Moreover, you don’t have to water the plants frequently as the straws make the soil damp and moist. While harvesting in the garden, there is not much effort required to dig the tubers. But mice can destroy the crop, so you have to keep an eye on that.

strawmulch
Raised potato plant in Straw Mulch process. Source: Harvesttotable

3. Raised Beds

For this process, you can put half amount of soil in the wooden raised bed. So about ten beds can fit in your garden—where you can plant a lot of potatoes.

You have to fill the bed after the potatoes begin to grow. Then, after the stem arises, you can add more soil to it. Adding up more compost can grow the yield.

However, while looking for the nutrient-rich soil, you might have to spend a lot of time.

texas-raised-beds
Raise Beds. Source: Pinterest

4. Wire Cylinders

By creating a cylinder through galvanized steel cloth, you can put the soil inside it. Around three inches of soil with an adequate amount of compost is necessary to grow potatoes.

These cylinders do not absorb water, so you have to put them frequently. One benefit of this is, it provides better drainage during the rainy season.

Thus, you can have good harvesting, although you have smaller space in the garden.

texas-wired-cylinder
Seeds ready to plant in wire cylinders. Source: Pinterest

Potatoes Planting Spacing

While planting potatoes, it is necessary to consider spacing. If you fail to provide sufficient space, the plant will not grow.

As these plants are tubers, they need quite a lot of space to grow in the ground. Therefore, to have high production, 12″ X 12″ spacing is best.

Sometimes, if there is no space in the garden, you can manage the potatoes within 4″ X 4″ spacing. A total of 16 plants can grow in a smaller space.

Yet, the seed should be planted 6-8 inches deep. The deeper seeds are planted, the more harvest you’ll get.

Fertilizer Requirement for Growing Potatoes

Potatoes often require a lot of nutrients to produce a good crop.

To form robust tops and premium size tubers of good quality, potato plants require relatively high soil fertility.

Because nutrient requirements arise early in the plant’s growth, all phosphorus and potassium fertilizers and at least half of the total nitrogen fertilizer are often applied at or immediately before planting.

According to the scientific Journal of Agriculture, the recommended fertilizer requirement for growing a general variety of potatoes are:

  • Nitrogen: 155 (kg/Ha)
  • Phosphate (P2O5) : 275 (kg/Ha)
  • Potash (K2O) : 200 (kg/Ha)

Note: Kg/Ha indicates Kilogram per Hectare, and to convert kg/Ha into lbs/Acre, you can multiply kg/Ha by 0.9.

And talking about the ratio, the balanced N-P-K fertilizer ratio recommended is (13-13-13), healthier for roots. However, as the potato grows, the 15-5-10 will go down into the soil with watering and rain, beneficial for stem and leaf formation.

Nutrient Deficiency might hinder the growth of potatoes and might reduce the yield.

Let me go through the quick factsheet of nutrient requirements, its deficiencies, and the problem incurred due to excessive use of fertilizers.

Nutrient Deficiencies and Excessive Fertilization Problems

ElementsDeficiency ProblemsProblems due to Excessive Use
Nitrogen (N)1. Total yield is reduced
2. Tuber Size gets reduced
3. Stunted Foliage
1. Maturity of potatoes gets delayed
2.Top growth becomes excessive
3. More susceptible to diseases
Phosphorous (P)1. Early vigor reduced
2. Maturity gets delayed
3. Total yield reduced
Other elements, such as calcium and zinc, are bound together.
Potassium (K)1. Nitrogen uptake gets reduced
2. Total yield gets reduced
1. Specific gravity of tuber gets reduced
2. Calcium or Magnessium uptake gets reduced
3. Soil structure becomes weak

Step by Step Process of Planting Potatoes

When you start your garden, one of the key things to have is seed potatoes. To start, you must select the appropriate seeds for your garden.

As potatoes are low-maintenance plants and grow well in light shade, they can grow faster when they get sufficient sunlight. Once the potato plants sprout, they will need rich soil with plenty of organic material in it.

There are different steps involved while growing potatoes. Let’s go through them one by one.

Step 1: Preparing Seed

Keep a close eye on things from this point on out! Make a schedule to know when to water and harvest (usually around 45-60 days after planting).

Prepare seed potatoes and choose potatoes that have at least two or three eyes.

Well, to measure the right amount of seed, you need to calculate the area of your garden. Experts recommend about 1 pound of seed per 10 feet.

Step 2: Cutting Potato Seed

Only little potatoes, around the size of a golf ball, should be sown whole.

Large tubers should be cut into pieces.  Cut the seed potatoes with a sharp knife and make small sizes for planting. Usually, the size of a golf ball, potatoes are planted whole. But if the potatoes are larger in size, you can slice them. While slicing, make sure you don’t destroy the sprouts.

Note

  • In summer, you can add whole seeds without cutting
  • In winter, you have to cut it into many pieces, because it may get infected with diseases

Step 3: Curing the Cut Potatoes

Cure the cut pieces next.  Set them out in the sun for three to five days, or place them on a table or counter in a warm (approximately 70°F), moderately lit environment. This stage allows the cuts to harden into calluses. Seed potatoes that have been calloused will assist avoid decay.

If you see discoloration on the potato seeds, don’t get afraid. As discoloration is a usual process, you can use them for planting. After this, you have to keep the seeds in a humid place for few (4-5) days.

Step 4: Planting Seeds

In a 6-inch-deep hole or trench, plant seed potato segments cut-side down (eyes up). On all sides, space each piece 12 inches apart.

Once the seed piece is ready for planting, you can seed potatoes in rows. But, while planting every seed, make sure to keep them twelve inches apart.

Step 5: Add Fertilizer

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous fertilizer between each section. After that, cover both the potatoes and the fertilizer with two inches of dirt and thoroughly moisten the soil.

Watering Potatoes

Watering crops is crucial to get a good harvest. Similar to this, potatoes also require the proper amount of water to grow quickly.

Without water, potatoes can’t reach full size in Texas, and they can get deformed.

It’s crucial to know how much amount of water you need to put in the plant.

When the potato plant begins to blossom, you should supply about one inch of water once a week. Do not forget to withdraw watering if it is raining around your area.

As excessive watering may harm the root, and it may begin to rot. It can end in the disappointment of crops. To provide plenty of wetness, you can provide around 1-2 inches of water in 7-10 days.

However, you might wonder how to check the measurement? Through your fingers, you can check the level of water in the soil.

While doing this, be gentle and don’t touch the potato roots.

Furthermore, the perfect timing to supply water is in the morning. This is because the water can reach the roots, and the plant will absorb it throughout the day.

Therefore, experts recommend it’s better to leave the plants without water during sunlight.

water-can
Watering Potatoes. Source: Unsplash

There is no specific data regarding the amount of water for potatoes. However, potato plants require much water for the first 30 days.

Gradually, it is sensible to decrease the amount of water level after 30 days.

Plantation StageWater Requirement
1-30 Days1-2 Inches (Per Week)
30-60 Days1-2 Inches (Per Week)
60-90 Days1 Inches (Per Week)

Further speaking, you should stop watering if there is plenty amount of rainfall. Also, when the crops are ready for harvesting, water is not required in the plant.

You should keep in mind that excessive watering may cause diseases to the plants.

Harvesting Potatoes

If you’ve planted, enriched, and cultivated potatoes carefully, you might wonder about harvesting them. It is crucial to know that you can’t harvest it prematurely—or delay it.

There is a right time for taking out the potatoes—which you should recognize sensibly.

Talking about digging the potatoes, you can do it when it is a late season. If there are smaller tubers, it is wise to put them until they become mature.

Taking out the whole root at once is great because potatoes might be left inside the soil.

For harvesting, all you need is a shovel and spade. You can do it by lifting the plant and removing the mature potatoes.

However, if you see the thin potato skin, you have to wait for a few days to complete the work.

While collecting the potatoes, make sure to gather them without any bruises. If the potatoes are cut, they’ll begin to rot faster. Also, there might be a problem while storing it.

And, after you harvest the potatoes, it’s better to put them in a dark and humid place for storage.

As tubers turn starchier when stored, most people store them after harvesting.

potato-farm
Potato farm. Source: Unsplash

Harvesting potatoes may end your journey of potato plantation. But, then, you don’t have to worry about caring for the plants.

There’s a straight answer regarding when to harvest potatoes. Until you see the vines completely dead, you have to wait for harvesting.

Mostly, after 10 weeks – or 2.5 months, potatoes are ready for harvest. However, according to the climate, it can differ.

For example, in winter, potatoes can take 12 weeks to get mature. And in spring, within 8 weeks, you can harvest them.

So, there is no exact timing; by looking at the stem, you can realize that potatoes are ready. Then, congratulations, you can focus your time on thinking about where to store them.

Storing Harvested Potatoes

Storing potatoes might be a difficult task for anyone. After harvesting it, you might have to search for appropriate space.

As potatoes can’t be congested, you must put them in open space. These tubers can be stored for the long term.

Furthermore, as long you store the potatoes, they become tastier. Therefore, cool temperature, light sunlight and dry place is a suitable condition for storing potatoes.

It’s fiddly to store these tubers. Also, if you provide excessive sunlight, the potatoes might turn green. And, if the temperature is much colder, they can rot.

Depending on the available storage, you can put potatoes in sacks, boxes, wooden crates, or drawers.

Furthermore, you can place it in a burlap bag in a cool place. Or, in an open egg crate, farmers can store the potatoes in a row. While storing it, you have to check whether proper ventilation is provided or not.

There can be other places such as; garage, basement, or any other open place. You can put the potatoes in a garbage bag and store them inside the soil. This might keep potatoes fresh for the whole year, and you’ll not lose the taste.

At last, you can cut the potatoes in slices and dry them in the dehydrator trays—or the direct sunlight.

Tips:

  • Do not eat green potatoes.
  • Properly wash the potatoes before cooking.
  • Do not eat raw fresh potatoes, as they may contain harmful chemicals.
  • Avoid eating potatoes without peeling them.

Growing Potatoes in a Bag

If you don’t have much space for planting potatoes, you can plant them in a bag. It is considered one of the cheapest and easiest ways for harvesting.

You only need few potato seeds, bags, and nutrient-rich soil to do this job.

People who’re living in the urban parts of Texas can consider this option for growing crops.

You can place these bags on the balcony or garden for better results. However, it needs proper care, like in the garden.

To grow potatoes in a bag, you have to find a quality plastic bag. After that, put the nutrients rich soil with compost, and plant the seed.

Potato harvest depends on the size of the bag and the quality of soil and compost.

Bag SizeSeeds Required
5 gallon bag3-5 pieces
10 gallon bag7-10 pieces

Bag Material: Oriented Polypropylene Plastic – These materials are good moisture absorbers.

There is no specific time to plant the seed. Instead, you can follow the cropping pattern of summer or autumn harvesting. Usually, March and September are considered best to grow potatoes through this method.

Steps of Growing Potatoes in the Bag

  • Fill a bag with multipurpose compost. Approximately eight kilograms of soil is required during this process.
  • You have to put the potato seeds in the depth of five inches.
  • Then, keep it in a humid place where it gets proper sunlight. Finally, do not forget to water it regularly.
  • Add an adequate amount of compost once a week. You can harvest the bag-grown potatoes in about 110 days.

Watering, Temperature, Light Requirement for Growing Potatoes in Bag

Talking about watering, you can water the plants every 2 to 3 days in the spring season in a potato bag. However, in the winter season, an adequate amount of water once a week is enough.

Talking about the temperature, potatoes can grow well in both hot and cold climates. So there is no need to worry about it.

You can expose your potatoes to direct sunlight. With the help of sunlight, they can grow faster. As a result, your crop will not catch any diseases and produce more potatoes.

potato-bag
Growing Potatoes in a Bag. Source: Unsplash

Can I Save my Own Seed From my Potato Crop?

Many of us may doubt whether we can save our seed or not. But, according to the world’s top potato experts, you can grow your own seed for the next year.

Yet, the seeds may not grow properly – or provide a good harvest.

That’s why buying potato seeds from a good store helps you to yield the product. Store-bought seeds are passed through different processes; they are quality checked for farming purposes.

Whereas your own seed is bought from the supermarket – and it may not be suitable to grow a crop.

Conclusion

Growing potatoes might not be much difficult as you think. If you’re in Texas, you’ll have many resources which you can use.

The various methods for planting will be helpful while you’re planting the crops. However, you should remember that it’s almost impossible to produce crops without following the steps.

It’s wise to plant these crops twice a year. Then, you’ll get a plentiful amount of potatoes to eat for a whole year.

As the climate and soil are suitable, Texas is one of the best places for harvesting potatoes.

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