Potatoes don’t require heavy machinery or huge spaces to spread, so pretty much anyone can plant them.
Unfortunately, these cool-season crops can’t handle heat very well and tend to decline in production if temperatures reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This brings us to our next question: when to plant potatoes in Arkansas to avoid such a problem?
Generally, the planting season for these tubers is around February 15 to early March in southern parts of the state. For northern areas, gardening begins right after, in early March to April.
Note that aside from spring, growing potatoes in the fall is possible from July 15 to August 1.
When to Grow Potatoes in Arkansas
Before growing potatoes, follow these guidelines to schedule your gardening:
- Seed potatoes outside after the last frost. Usually, this date would be around March 20 to April 20 in Arkansas, though it’s best to look up your locality’s spring frost to be safe.
- In addition, wait two weeks after the final frost if you’re patient enough. Though potatoes can tolerate 29 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s a chance the last frost may arrive later than expected, and you’ll have to cover the potatoes with cloths or move them indoors.
- Furthermore, germination won’t occur unless the soil is at least 45 degrees, with the optimal range being 61 to 66℉. So, seeding your tubers early may not produce an earlier harvest anyway.
- Lastly, it’s important to plant fall potatoes in Arkansas when the weather is under 80 degrees and harvest them before the first frost.
As an example, Bentonville, Arkansas in zone 6 has its final frost on April 19. Here, gardeners can seed potatoes on April 20 or May 3 to be safe.
And because Bentonville’s first frost falls on October 20, its latest potato planting time will be June 2 to August 6, depending on the crop variety and how long it takes to mature. Generally, potatoes will finish growing in 75 to 140 days.
So, whether you can grow potatoes in June, July, or August hinges on your chosen cultivar and when winter arrives.
Harvest Potatoes in Arkansas
If you’re unsure when to harvest potatoes, look for the following signs:
- Dead vines
- 2 or 3 weeks after the appearance of flowers (applies to new potatoes, which often have thin skin and are harvestable in June or July)
- Yellow foliage (useful for spotting mature maincrop potatoes, which have thick skin and finish growing in October)
To make things easy, you can also calculate your harvest time – simply add the plant’s days to maturity to your seeding date and wait.
As for how to collect potatoes, here are some tips:
- Pick new tubers in the summer using gloves. Don’t collect all of them at once. Instead, dig up those 1 two 2 inches in size and use them for cooking. Leave the rest to grow normally.
- Later in the fall, to pick maincrop or late season potatoes, dig around the plant base with a fork and use your hands to search for tubers. Remember to do this task in warm weather, when the soil is not sticky or wet, to minimize transferring organisms that cause rot.
- Then, cure the potatoes under 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re dry. Afterward, you can store the crops in cardboard boxes or drawers. Whatever medium you choose, keep the potatoes away from sunlight and in a well-ventilated area that measures 40 to 45 degrees.
How deep do you plant potatoes in Arkansas?
You should plant them at least two inches deep, though four-to-six-inch trenches are also fine. As the tubers grow and become larger, hill them up with a foot of mulch or straw.
Can I plant potatoes in March in Arkansas?
Yes. Since many parts of Arkansas have their last frost in March, planting potatoes during this month is fine. For instance, Gosnell in zone 7a welcomes its final frost on March 27, so it’s okay to seed potatoes here in late March or early April.
What are the best days to plant potatoes in February?
The answer would change depending on where you live, but generally, February 1o to 17 are the ideal dates for growing potatoes.
Of course, we assume that the weather has warmed up by then, and the soil is workable. In states where the last frost is in April or May, it’s impossible to garden this soon.
To give you some examples, February planting is only possible in warmer states like Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.
When to plant sweet potatoes?
We recommend growing sweet potatoes after the last frost or, to be safe, a month after it. In Arkansas, the gardening time for these crops would be from April 15 to May 20.
What are the steps for growing purple potatoes in containers?
To begin, cut the seed potatoes into small pieces. Each piece should have at least one eye or small bump, which is where a new plant will form. You can skip this step if the potatoes are already egg-size.
Assuming you have the potatoes dried and cut, now is the time to chit them. Put the sliced pieces into an egg tray with the eyes facing up. Afterward, place them under indirect light and a temperature of 45 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the potatoes form shoots, you can sow them. Usually, it will take four to six weeks from chitting to planting.
At this point, prepare a 10-gallon container at least two feet tall and fill it with six to eight inches of a peat-based potting mix and compost (remember to combine the two in a 1:1 ratio).
All that’s left to do now is putting the potatoes in the container. Space them 12 inches apart and sprinkle six inches of the planting mix on top.
Finally, water so that the top one or two inches of the container is damp. The purple potatoes should also receive six hours of sunlight per day.
When to plant potatoes in Arkansas? As a reminder, growing them between the two frost dates will produce optimal results.
If this is your first time gardening, don’t forget to buy certified disease-free potatoes as well. It’s easy to find these at farmers’ markets or online stores like Gurney’s and Johnny’s Seeds.
They should give you the best chance of success with your crops, unlike those from grocery shops.
Furthermore, you can check the potatoes planting schedule in: