Every year Lee worries that our potato harvest is going to be a bust or under perform. This year he was pretty optimistic by midsummer as the plants were gorgeous, but when it came time to dig them up his hopes fell. There were a lot of rodent tunnels and chewed potatoes. It’s hard to be optimistic about the overall harvest when you are constantly sorting out rotten spuds.
We grew four varieties of potatoes, so we weighed them all separately. Our 58 feet of potato beds yielded 150 pounds of potatoes. That’s 2.5 lbs/ft, which is better than most yield estimates we’ve found online. The breakdown was as follows:
|Variety||Harvest||Row feet||Yield Rate|
|Red Pontiac||56 lbs||19 ft||2.9 lbs/ft|
|Yukon Gold||54 lbs||22 ft||2.5 lbs/ft|
|Russet||20 lbs||8 ft||2.5 lbs/ft|
|Purple Peruvian||20 lbs||9 ft||2.2 lbs/ft|
While it’s hard to make judgments from such a small sample size, the numbers do support a few of our potato variety biases. Red potatoes really do grow the best for us. Russet and Yukon Gold grow larger (and bake better) but are preferred by gophers and their yield suffers. Long season potatoes like Purple Peruvian are harder to dig by hand because they are so small, but the yield is still respectable. Also, who doesn’t love bright purple potatoes?
I think one of the reasons Lee becomes so anxious about the potatoes doing well is because they are our most labor intensive crop. The tiller has simplified the work a little, but we still hand dig a long trench for the potatoes and successively hill the ridges of dirt into the trench. Harvest requires turning over all the dirt in the whole bed. Granted, it’s not that big of deal if you have a small plot, but 60 row feet of trenching and digging is a different matter. Maybe someone out there has a simpler method.
This year Lee saw a potato fork online for the first time and his eyes lit up. He was really hoping it would simplify the harvest. Unfortunately, our soil was too hard to turn with the fork directly and it didn’t seem to save much effort. Next year we are going to dry garden our potato crop, which may change the soil texture. We will give the fork another go before we make up our mind.