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Old 06-04-2012, 06:46 PM   #1
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Southern Potatoes - Who Knows?

I'm determine to try potatoes and am planning a long way out. I'm in central Texas. So hot, hot, hot. Maybe no winter to speak of. Or it can freeze for a while. I have pretty good soil and lots of space and a small tractor and implements.

Who has successfully grown potatoes under this sort of conditions? What varieties worked? When did you plant? How much water did you give or did nature contribute? Plant at the earliest opportunity? Do seed potatoes do okay when there's a mild freeze above ground?

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Old 06-04-2012, 07:15 PM   #2
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Maybe you can do an (early) Fall planting? And harvest before a hard winter sets in. I just did a quick look-see at one garden catalog for seed potatoes. Growing time to harvest time varies from 65-90 days depending on variety. Not bad.

However, when you say "winter" and "freezing" -- Is it just the surface that gets frost or snow, or does the ground freeze? If it's just the top, the plants will probably croak, but may not damage the potatoes in the ground. Then you can just dig them up. Snow itself doesn't harm anything. It's the temperature, and just because snow lands, doesn't mean the ground temp is cold enough to kill the plant roots.

If you are talking about garden tractors, that's a bigger growing area. And more Taters. Do you have a cool dry place to store them? Maybe Bolas and quite possibly CWS will chime in about storage.
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Old 06-04-2012, 07:31 PM   #3
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Will you be able to hill the dirt up around your potato plants as they grow?

It is important to continue almost burying the plants as they grow to encourage the growth of the potatoes below ground. If you are not familiar with the practice UTube has several videos on the subject of potato hilling.

Good luck!
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:05 PM   #4
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Here in SE Ontario, we plant our potatoes 14 days before the last anticipated frost--about the 14th of April. We start harvesting around July 1, but those are "new" potatoes. We harvest the rest of the potatoes late September. I like the Blue Russians, Kennebecs, and Norlands. I planted another purple variety this year as well. Potatoes do quite well here, but you may need to water them. I think late fall early spring might work for you. What does your Ag. Dept. say? I don't hill mine. They take a lot of real estate, probably is cheaper to buy them at the store, but oh are they GOOOOOOD! Worth the real estate. And, the chickens like the potato bugs.
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:19 PM   #5
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The ground doesn't freeze here. If it did, I'd not be too sad to let the potatoes go, just to get an insect killing cold that hasn't happened in a long time. But the chances of that kind of an extended freeze is close to zero. Not since the 19th century, anyway. I suspect we may one day be considered Zone 9, instead of the present Zone 8.

I have a Deere 140 garden tractor, tiller, blade, cultivator, scoop and pulverizer, so loosening and blading over dirt isn't a problem. Well drained soil, so rot will never be a problem.

I was wondering about early fall planting. The ground will still be very warm then, and I've read about the ideal soil temperature range to start being 50F-70F. That's why I wondered if some varieties were better warm climate potatoes.

The first year will be tests of whatever varieties I choose to try. The next year can be a much larger planting, and I will have to work on storage. I have two acres, total, to work with, not counting greenhouses and chicken run. Some of that will be used for commercial scrub growing, but I'm aiming at growing a substantial part of our diet by the time I retire in four or five years. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are obvious crops, and two seasons each year would be ideal. Zucchini is doing so well this year that they get enormous before being seen, but are still tender. And field pea type beans are up well in the greenhouse, which is sun protection in the summer.

Texas A&M says planting in my area for about early February for harvest in late May. I would also try the fall, because A&M takes a long time to adapt to changes, and winter has changed or is in a long warm cycle here, and because they tend to concentrate on commercial planting and adapt that to home gardening.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskadoodle View Post
Maybe you can do an (early) Fall planting? And harvest before a hard winter sets in. I just did a quick look-see at one garden catalog for seed potatoes. Growing time to harvest time varies from 65-90 days depending on variety. Not bad.

However, when you say "winter" and "freezing" -- Is it just the surface that gets frost or snow, or does the ground freeze? If it's just the top, the plants will probably croak, but may not damage the potatoes in the ground. Then you can just dig them up. Snow itself doesn't harm anything. It's the temperature, and just because snow lands, doesn't mean the ground temp is cold enough to kill the plant roots.

If you are talking about garden tractors, that's a bigger growing area. And more Taters. Do you have a cool dry place to store them? Maybe Bolas and quite possibly CWS will chime in about storage.
right as always whiska!just read this one & i'm sure(hope!)big bro' bolas won't mind me chiming in as we garden together.
this year,as usual,bolas prepared the soil & i planted 10 or 12 rows of roosters,king edwards,desiree,charlottes & jersey royals end march/early april.we had late/hard frosts after planting.all are doing fine.
at main harvest last year we planted the runts in the cold frame for an early crop.they were in the ground over winter.shoots appeared early march,got burnt off by the frost & have regrown fine.
previous winter we did the same & we had weeks of anything up to -18c(not sure what that is in old money,but about the same temp as a domestic freezer)& heavy snow.all survived,including those in open ground that we had missed & we had one of the best crops ever.
we over winter the crop in hessian sacks stored in unheated/dark but well ventilated outbuildings & use the ones that have chitted/sprouted in the sacks as our seeds for following season so free potatoes every year!!
potatoes love water(just as well in the uk!) but some of the best spuds i have eaten have been in portugal,the canary islands,italy & spain where the hotter/drier climate seems to produce smaller potatoes but with a more intense flavour so you should get some fine 'taters in texas!
the potato truly is a friend!
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:39 AM   #7
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GLC, I'll ask my Dad, but we've growing Potatos in Centrall Tx. for like a Hundred years..

they are mainly the Red or Yellow kind..

I think the soil here is too thick to grow Idaho Bakers..

I've never had much luck with "Fall Gardening", but I'm still trying!

Eric, Austin Tx.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:15 PM   #8
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Thanks. Golds and reds are my preference.
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