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Can You Grow Potatoes In Winter – Whats The Ideal Temperature?

Growing potatoes sounds like a breeze, but what is too cold for a potato? Their ability to nuzzle underground and grow within makes them somewhat resistant to the cold, though all plants have their limits. Can you grow potatoes in winter?

You can grow potatoes in winter as long as they get enough sunlight and temperatures stay above 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Varieties with mature in 75 – 90 days are ideal for winter growing. Additionally, you have to watch out for hard frosts and freezes, which can damage plants and destroy your crop. 

Below, we’ll feature more tips on how to plant potatoes in the winter and look at things to watch out for to avoid losing your whole potato crop. 

How To Grow Potatoes in the Winter

The winter is coming along doesn’t mean it’s too late to plant potatoes. To grow potato plants when the temperature drops, here’s how you can do it. 

Choose The Right Type

There are many varieties of potatoes, some of which are better for growing in the winter months than others. When selecting the type for your winter planting, choose those which mature faster (75 to 90 days) like: 

  • Adirondack Blue potatoes 
  • Belmonda potatoes 
  • Dark Red Norland potatoes 
  • Red Gold potatoes 

These are great for growing outside and are resistant to colder temperatures, though they cannot survive a freeze. It’s best to determine the chances of a freeze in your area before planting indoors or out. 

Think Before You Plant 

Depending on when you plan to harvest, you may need to start earlier or later in the season. Think about the date you would like to harvest and count backward, taking the time to maturation into consideration. 

For example, planting in late September will give you potatoes in late December if maturation is 90 days. While this is a step you should do before planting, you’ll have to consider one more thing before planting during colder months. 

Choose The Right Temperature 

If you’re thinking about having potatoes in November or early December, the best time for planting would be late July to mid-August. These dates are okay for some places, though others would be too hot and halt tuber growth. If soil temperatures get above 80oF, potatoes are likely not to sprout. To protect potatoes if planting in late summer, make sure to: 

  • Give them some shade 
  • Add mulch for insulation 

On the contrary, some temperatures are too cold. A bit of cold is okay, but potatoes are at risk for rot if soil temperatures dip below 50oF. Weather is unpredictable, but it’s essential to look at trends and look out for late freezes or frosts. Some alternatives to planting if you suspect a freeze include: 

  • Greenhouse growing
  • Indoor growing 
  • Packing soil around the base for added insulation 

Will Potatoes Survive Winter? 

Whether or not your potatoes will survive the winter depends on a few things. The main factor affecting your plant’s success is the temperature, as potatoes can’t survive in harsh, cold conditions for too long. 

Light frosts are considered to be temperatures that range between 28 degrees and 32 degrees Fahrenheit While these temps may be cold for other plants, they are not for potatoes. However, if temperatures dip below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, potatoes will likely die. 

Potatoes can survive the winter, just as long as temperatures don’t get too cold. 

How Long Do Potatoes Take to Grow in the Winter?

In the winter months, things start to slow down. There are fewer hours of sunlight in the day, and temperatures typically dip, which can affect plants’ maturation time. For potatoes, the amount of time it takes to grow in the winter depends on your plant variety and a few other factors. 

You can expect your potatoes to sprout anywhere from 90 to 120 days for regular-sized potatoes. Some varieties that produce smaller potatoes may be ready to harvest in as little as 60 to 70 days, though they might be more vulnerable to colder temperatures. 

How Late Can You Plant Potatoes? 

When looking for the latest date that you could plant your potatoes, you’ll need to consider the temperatures in the area you live. For instance, areas with warmer climates like Florida, Louisiana, and South Texas don’t see too many frosts. This makes them the perfect place to plant many plants all year round. 

On the other hand, colder areas like Massachusetts and Vermont are almost guaranteed colder temps, some of which could come as early as late September. 

So, how can you predict the late freeze in your area? Unfortunately, climate change affects the ability to predict weather patterns, making it harder to find the final freeze. Tools like the Farmer’s Almanac and advanced meteorological analyses can attempt to predict temperatures, though it’s never guaranteed. 

If you suspect that your climate is too cold, you may want to consider bringing your potatoes indoors or planting them in a greenhouse, where they’ll be safe from sudden swings in temperature. 

Tips to Protect Your Potatoes from the Winter 

Hard frosts can kill potato crops. Luckily, you can do a few things to keep them from dying if temperatures get too cold. 

Tip #1. Row Covers 

Row covers are an excellent defense for unforeseen frosts. They work to keep plants and soil warm while still allowing sunlight to get through, allowing plants to produce nutrients. 

Tip #2. Mulch 

Mulching is possible with the addition of several different kinds of materials, including straw, grass, and compost. Adding mulch on top of your soil will help keep soils insulated and increase overall temperatures. 

Tip #3. Plant Indoors 

If you live in a too risky place, you could plant indoors. You can add them to your garage or inside your home or plant them in a greenhouse. If you have doubts about the cold temperatures in your area, you may need to take them inside. 

To Wrap Up 

Planting potatoes outdoors is possible, though you have to consider soil temperatures. Increase the possibility of a plentiful crop with the right variety of potatoes and a look at average temperatures in your area. You can keep soils warm, planting late fall and enjoying potatoes at the beginning of a new year. 

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