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Potatoes are very high on the popularity scale of Germans. Once only an ornamental plant, its true value was not recognized until much later. Today it is a staple food and no kitchen would be without it. Grown and harvested by yourself, it is a real delicacy. Hardly any other vegetable is as versatile as the potato. They come in different shapes, colors, flavors, consistencies and harvest times. The latter are mainly dependent on the variety.


The potato harvest used to be an important event and usually took place in October. The introduction of the so-called potato holidays, today autumn holidays, has its origins here. So the families had time to go to the fields and harvest the potatoes. Today, with more than 5,000 different varieties, the question of the right time to harvest potatoes is no longer so easy to answer. Depending on when they were planted and the variety, you can harvest in May/June at the earliest and in October at the latest. A distinction is made between early, mid-early and late varieties.

new potatoes

New potatoes are the first of the year and are harvested around May. They are more suitable for direct consumption and, due to their wafer-thin skin, not suitable for storage. For the earliest possible potato harvest, let them germinate about 4 - 8 weeks before planting. These early tubers can only be harvested for a few days. Popular early and very early varieties are the high-yield 'Agata', the aromatic 'Gloria', the red-skinned 'Rosara', the varieties 'Prinzess' and 'Sieglinde' as well as the more robust 'Karlena' and 'Anabelle', one of the first new potatoes in the year. Together with fresh asparagus, new potatoes are a very special treat.


Medium-early potato varieties are planted around April and are ready to harvest from August. These varieties include the typical cellar potatoes, which usually have a shelf life or can be stored at least until the end of the year. They are predominantly sticky. A real lover's variety is the high-yield, robust and very aromatic 'Linda' with deep yellow flesh. Varieties such as 'Nicola', 'Hansa' (perfect for French fries), 'Blauer Schwede' with blue flesh and 'Quarta' and 'Cilena', a good variety for boiled and fried potatoes, have also proven successful. Of the few mealy, medium-early berries, the 'Agria' is recommended with its excellent aroma.

late potatoes

Late potatoes are harvested in September/October, definitely before the first frost. They also belong to the cellar potatoes and are often particularly productive. If stored properly, they can be stored until early summer. These include the varieties 'Adretta', 'Aula', 'Panda' and the popular 'Laura', one of the highest-yielding late potatoes.

Tip: If you plant different varieties of different ripening groups, you can harvest fresh potatoes over a long period of time. If you like variety and don't want to store large quantities, there are so-called lover's varieties such as 'Linda', 'Vitelotte', 'La Ratte' or the 'Bamberger Hörnchen'.


Recognize maturity

There are various factors that can be used to tell when the potato, which is also often referred to as a potato, is ripe. The clearest sign of this is the completely withered foliage.

  • after wilting, wait another 2 - 3 weeks before harvesting the potatoes
  • only when the herb has died do the tubers form their thick shell
  • the skin is darker the riper the potato is
  • ripe tubers also have a firm skin
  • it should not rub off with your fingers
  • as long as the leaves and stems are green, the tubers grow and store starch
  • in the case of cellar potatoes, the herb must be completely wilted
  • New potatoes can also be harvested when the cabbage is still partially green
  • however, the nodules should be firm and the skin difficult to remove
  • Eat the new potatoes as quickly as possible
  • Ripening times vary from variety to variety
  • ripe very early in 90 - 110 days, harvest June/July
  • early ripe in 110 - 130 days, harvest July/August
  • medium early ripe in 130 - 150 days, harvest August/September
  • medium late to late ripe in 150 - 170 days, harvest September/October


Potato harvest as needed

At the time of the potato harvest and a few days after, it should be dry and sunny. A loose soil also facilitates the harvest. To make sure the timing is right, it's a good idea to dig up a sample plant first. If the shell is firm and the herb can be easily removed, it can be harvested. If you don't want to store it, it's best to harvest when you need it, because the potatoes will be in good hands in the ground for some time.

  • Always cover potatoes that remain in the ground well with soil
  • when exposed to light, the tubers take on a green tint
  • these green spots indicate the toxic substance solanine
  • Improper storage can also cause this green discoloration
  • very small green spots can be generously cut out
  • if they predominate, the tubers concerned should no longer be eaten and should be disposed of
  • use a digging fork or potato hoe to harvest, not a spade
  • Spade would damage many of the tubers and render them unusable
  • dig the digging cables into the ground with some distance to the plant
  • then lift the plants and potatoes out of the ground
  • grab the herb, on which some of the tubers are usually already attached, and pull it out
  • Adhering potatoes can be easily removed

Then carefully dig up this area again to get the tubers that have detached from the plant. Of course you can also use your hands to help. This is how you dig up one plant after the other and harvest them. After the potato harvest, the tubers should remain on the bed to dry off.

This is all the more important for cellar potatoes, because moisture would lead to rot relatively quickly during storage. Once they have dried well, you remove the loose remains of earth, sort them out and prepare them for storage. Potato tubers damaged during digging should be used for immediate consumption and should not be stored.


store potatoes

To ensure that the freshly harvested potatoes can be kept for as long as possible, there are a number of aspects that need to be taken into account when storing them. The best storage place for these power tubers is a slightly damp, cool, frost-proof, dark and well-ventilated cellar. The temperatures should be between 4 and 10 degrees. For the same reasons that potatoes in the garden must always be covered with soil, it is also important to avoid exposure to light when storing them. If the storage is too warm, the tubers begin to germinate relatively quickly. It shouldn't be colder either, because then they take on an unpleasant sweetish taste.

They can be stored in appropriate containers or loose. Air-permeable jute sacks, baskets, fruit trays or wooden trays are suitable as containers, for example. Ideally, they should also be well ventilated from below. Many cellars today no longer meet the requirements for storing such foods. They are often far too warm, too bright and poorly ventilated. In these cases, it makes sense to store potatoes in what is known as a soil heap, which can be produced without great effort if the conditions are right.

Only healthy and undamaged tubers should be stored. They should not be layered too high to avoid bruises where mold and rot can form. Covering with sand that is damp from the basement improves storage life. In addition, you should avoid washing potatoes before storing them. They must be checked regularly for damage or rot and sorted out if necessary. Occasional rearranging can counteract the formation of rot.

Tip: If possible, do not store potatoes near apples or pears, because these types of fruit give off the ripening gas ethylene, which accelerates the spoilage of the potatoes.

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