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When To Start Harvesting Potatoes, How To Preserve The Harvest
When To Start Harvesting Potatoes, How To Preserve The Harvest

Video: When To Start Harvesting Potatoes, How To Preserve The Harvest

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Video: How to Harvest, Cure, and Store Potatoes 2023, January

Harvesting potatoes

harvesting potatoes
harvesting potatoes

Although the mass harvesting of early varieties in the Leningrad Region is usually started 2-3 weeks after flowering (in the second or third decades of July), this year the relatively cool weather in the first half of June had some effect on the ripening of potatoes.

Therefore, these varieties were dug up, apparently, not earlier than the first decade of August. With earlier harvesting periods, the bushes will not yet be able to gain sufficient crop mass (even if you planted potatoes in mid-May).

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With the harvest of mid-late varieties, many gardeners, apparently, will not be in a hurry. By the way, tubers harvested partially unripe, in comparison with fully ripe (with naturally dead tops), do not germinate longer in spring (including when stored indoors).

Since most pathogens infect potatoes in the field, proper cultivation will ensure the normal safety of the tubers. When storing low-quality potatoes, it will be difficult to ensure the successful keeping quality of the tubers (even if the optimal temperature and humidity regime is observed). Therefore, harvesting must be taken seriously: the quality and safety of the crop depend on the timing and methods of its implementation.

In this regard, when harvesting early potato varieties (in the overwhelming majority they are susceptible to late blight), they try not to linger. In addition, it is taken into account that the ripened tubers of this group in the soil quickly begin to lose their weight, the danger of their damage by pathogens increases, and after a long stay in the ground, they can be poorly stored.

Usually, the varieties of these groups have time to mature before the active manifestation of late blight, but with its early manifestation, many tubers sick with this mycosis can be obtained in the harvest. Potato tubers of this group, as a rule, do not store for a long time and are sold until the New Year, leaving only the portion that is intended for seed purposes. In the last 2-3 weeks of the potato growing season, there is an active accumulation of dry matter and starch in them.

The approach of the end of the growing season of potatoes is determined by the gradual physiological wilt of its foliage and stems, their subsequent drying. It is believed that with the natural death of the tops, the tubers stop gaining mass, the influx of nutrients from the leaves and stems completely stops. At this time, the highest starchiness of tubers, corking of the peel and easy separation of stolons from the umbilical part of the tubers are noted.

Usually, with the appearance of yellow lower leaves, watering, if carried out, is sharply reduced, since excess water in the soil contributes to the defeat of young tubers by late blight and soft bacterial rot. A clear sign of ripening tops is a change in the color of the leaves from green to yellow-green (even to yellow-brown). But more often they begin harvesting early varieties without waiting for this natural process. At the same time, it should be understood that if the crop is harvested too early (by green tops), the tubers are immature: they have a very weak and thin peel, which is easily damaged during harvesting and separates during transportation (such tubers easily lose water in hot summer weather) … Freshly harvested potatoes are transported in baskets and boxes, and not in bags, since in them the skin of the tubers is quickly peeled off from friction against each other.

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harvesting potatoes
harvesting potatoes

For long-term winter storage for food purposes, it is recommended to use the harvest of mid-season and mid-late varieties, which are harvested depending on weather conditions (often in mid-September).

In the climatic conditions of the Leningrad Region, late varieties of potatoes usually do not ripen, so they are harvested before the tops naturally die off. But it is still not worth bringing vegetative potato plants directly to frost, since their damage to the green tops is reflected in the tubers - areas of dead tissue appear.

If the pre-harvest period coincides with the fall of heavy rainfall, to protect the potatoes from getting wet and subsequent suffocation (and also to reduce the number of tubers affected by late blight), a soil ridge with a height of at least 7-8 cm is formed above their nest, and tubers that are bare during autumn precipitation it is imperative to cover it with earth.

Regardless of the early maturity of the variety, we will still advise 5-7 days before harvesting for early varieties of plants, and for the rest - to cut the tops in 10-12 days (leave "hemp" stems 15-20 cm high). The latter is removed from the garden (this is especially important in late blight years, in order to exclude contact of affected plants with young tubers) or buried to a depth of more than half a meter. Pre-harvest removal of tops has a number of advantages: seed potato plants, the tubers of which have reached the optimum size, stop growing; the maturation of tubers is accelerated, the formation of the peel is stimulated, due to which their mechanical damage during harvesting and storage is reduced; the risk of transition of late blight pathogens from leaves to tubers decreases.

It is also important that after harvesting there is a clean area free of plant residues. It is possible to accelerate the maturation of tubers somewhat by destroying the tops - by spraying the plants with a superphosphate solution. We add that the period between the destruction of the tops and harvesting should be sufficient for the peel of the tubers to get stronger, but not very long, since at this time the rhizoctoniasis is strongly spreading. Do not harvest immediately after mowing the tops - tubers may crack.

The gardener must prepare in advance for harvesting potatoes. If he cares about the state of the future seed material from his own plantings, then before harvesting (on green tops) he needs to select, marking with branches, the most typical (in flowers and leaves) healthy bushes of the best varieties, i.e. to carry out preliminary selection by line. The harvest of future years will depend on which potatoes the gardener selects now for seeds.

harvesting potatoes
harvesting potatoes

When digging, the best nests with tubers of normal shape are selected from the marked bushes, leaving small tubers for planting. The harvest of these selected bushes will serve as planting material next year. When digging and during transportation, it is necessary to exclude blows and bruises of the tubers, as this leads to a blue discoloration of the surface layers under the peel.

After the harvesting of early potato varieties is completed, the vacated area can be occupied by early maturing crops - cilantro, radish, lettuce, dill, turnip before the autumn frosts. Many gardeners in the fall sow the free area with winter rye - a crop that is not demanding on growing conditions, moisture and acidity, frost-resistant (capable of withstanding severe frosts of -20 ° C or more, including snowless winters), which has time to form a high-quality root system before severe cold weather. In spring, rye is able to start growing at + 3 … + 5 ° С, very quickly developing a powerful green mass.

As an aggressive crop, winter rye, due to its powerful root system, displaces other plants (usually weeds), and also creates favorable conditions for the development of a complex of beneficial microorganisms, which reduces the harmfulness of bacterioses and mycoses of potatoes and vegetable crops. Winter rye is also used as a green manure (green fertilizer), which retains its biological activity even when plowed.

If sowing is carried out no later than the end of August - the first decade of September, then in the conditions of our region, winter rye plants have time to give (before severe frosts) a good root system and ground mass in the fall. At least 7-8 days before sowing, the site for this grain crop is dug up, manure or compost is applied. 18-20 g of seeds should be sown per 1 m2 of area. In the spring, 10-15 days before planting the main crop, rye plants are buried.

In this case, the return of potatoes for winter rye is quite acceptable, since the soil has been enriched with organic matter, the concentration of harmful microflora - causative agents of diseases - has significantly decreased in it, and the activity of weeds has been partially suppressed.

harvesting potatoes
harvesting potatoes

Most often, in horticulture and in personal plots, potatoes are harvested with a shovel, but many gardeners also use garden forks, especially on light or well-cultivated soil, only rubber tips are placed on the sharp ends of the latter in order to avoid mechanical injury to the tubers. Harvesting is carried out on a dry sunny day, or windy weather is chosen: then the surface of the tubers dries quickly and the soil comes off it easily.

To speed up drying, it is better to spread the potatoes in one layer using tarpaulin or plastic wrap; 1-2 hours of sunny weather or 3-4 hours of cloudy is enough for the tubers to dry out and the stuck soil removed from them. If the harvesting of potatoes fell on rainy weather, which is still undesirable, the tubers are dried in a well-ventilated room until they are completely dry. During the harvesting of potatoes, they use a container disinfected with a 2-3% solution of copper sulfate.

Potatoes are kept for 2-3 weeks in a dry dark room. Optimal conditions during this so-called "treatment period", when accelerated healing of mechanical wounds occurs and the preservation of tubers increases, the temperature is 13-18 ° C (not lower than 10-12 ° C) and the relative humidity of 90-95%. After the treatment period, a latent infection of late blight is easily detected on the tubers (dull spots depressed outside; inside, rusty, coming from the surface) and soft rot.

Seed material should be free of injuries, weighing 60-80 g, and should correspond to the variety in shape; it needs to be greened (diffused light) under cover for 6-8 days. Carrying out gardening in direct sunlight is unacceptable: burns of the surface of the tubers are possible.

Before laying for storage, the tubers are separated from the ground, roots and tops remains, and mechanically injured, sorted (the smaller material is used primarily for food purposes, the larger one is left for a later period).

To store the potato crop, our gardeners use various insulated rooms (basements, cellars and closets). Long before the planting of plant products (the best option is 6-8 weeks) for the winter, they must be cleaned of debris and residues of plant products from the previous harvest, repaired and disinfected. It is best to burn the rest of the soil and debris on a special site or pour it into a pit at least 1 m deep.

harvesting potatoes
harvesting potatoes

These preventive measures will reduce the stock of infection of pathogens that have accumulated over the previous winter. Disinfection, as a rule, should be carried out on warm days with a 2-3% solution of copper sulfate, 40% aqueous formalin solution (consumption rate 25-30 ml / m3) or a solution of freshly slaked lime (2.5 kg / 10 l); sometimes smokescreens of wormwood or tansy are used.

After such treatment, the storage facilities are carefully closed, kept for two days, and ventilated. Storage facilities located outside living quarters are disinfected by fumigating them with sulfur (for example, a sulfur bomb is used) at the rate of 30-60 g / m3 of the room. Before fumigation, all vents are closed and the cracks are covered with clay. After processing, the premises are tightly closed and kept for 24-36 hours, and then ventilated. 2-3 weeks before laying the potatoes for storage, the walls and ceiling of the store are whitened with milk of lime (2-3 kg of freshly slaked lime and 200-300 g of copper sulfate per 10 liters of water at a consumption of 0.5 liters of working solution per 1 m2). After whitewashing, the premises must be dried.

For the destruction of rodents, the storage facilities are fumigated with sulfur (30-50g / m2), mousetraps are installed, poisoned bait preparations (rodencides) are laid out.

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