Potatoes are great sources of carbohydrates, making them one of the most famous side dishes that we serve on our plate. A lot of backyard growers have their own supply of potatoes that they can freshly harvest to add to their menu.
If you are a rookie potato grower yourself, you might be surprised when it's time to harvest your potatoes only to find out that are already rotten. The primary reason: you did not know when to stop watering potatoes. This article will tell you when to stop watering potatoes, and how to properly take care of your crops.
How much water do potatoes need?
The first thing that you need to know when you plan on growing potatoes is that they need a lot of water. Thus, my advice is to use a soil that is loose and well-draining. Secondly, you need to give your crops at least one inch of water per week. This is considering that there is no rainfall present. You need to be consistent in doing this as inconsistency may lead to a yield of irregularly sized potatoes.
The reason why you need to use a well-draining soil is to let the water go deep under the soil. The water should reach as deep as six inches below the soil in order for your potatoes to be well-hydrated.
However, too much watering may lead to diseases, especially if there are puddles of water that did not go through the soil. For best results, you have to water the potatoes early in the morning, so that the sun can easily evaporate the water that does not go through the soil.
You should be watering your potatoes until you see the flowers bloom, after which you should reduce the water until you eventually cut their water supply. Your potatoes should be grown by now, and thus do not need water anymore. Too much watering might make them rot, making all of your efforts worth nothing but a bitter experience.
When do you stop watering?
When you notice that the foliage of your potatoes is starting to turn yellow, it is an indication that you need to lessen the amount of water that you give to your crops. At this stage, the crops are slowly maturing to the point that they can be ready for harvest.
You will know that your potatoes are ready for harvest when the leaves and the flowers start to die. Don’t panic though, as this is perfectly fine. We call this "dying back."
Dying back generally means that the potatoes are done growing, and thus do not need further nutrition anymore. The leaves and the tubes slowly wither, until the fall off the crop. When this happens, you know that your potatoes are ready to be picked up from the soil, and serve to your plate.
One of the primary mistakes that first-time potatoes grower make is to mistake the dying-back stage as a disease that their potatoes have acquired. However, in reality, this is a good indication that your potatoes have grown fully. This is sort of the life cycle of a potato, and dying back is the indication that you can grow another set of crops for the next season.
Dying back is a natural phenomenon for your potatoes, and it usually happens two to four months after growing them. This is also an indication that you should stop watering your crop. I have said earlier that during this stage, your potatoes do not need any more nutrients, as well as moisture. Thus, they will not absorb any water present in the soil.
What happens when you still give water?
If your crops are in their final stages and you still give them water, the excess will just flood them. It only takes as little as one day for the excess water to affect your potatoes negatively. The water will make the potatoes rot even before you have the chance to harvest them.
Another thing to note is that water can be a breeding ground for molds, bacteria, and other diseases that can damage your crops. Since the water is flooding the potatoes, they will be more susceptible to diseases that the water may harbor.
You should be mindful of your potatoes' growth and maturity in order to know the amount of water that you give them. Generally, potatoes do not die quickly in the event of water shortage. However, excess water can affect them negatively.
With proper watering, you can be sure that you're going to look forward to a bountiful harvest. If you have other questions on how to properly water your crops or have suggestions that you can share with your fellow potato growers, feel free to write a comment below.
Finally I'm very happy to share you an interesting recipe with potatoes: Portuguese Potato and Kale Soup with Butternut