Potatoes can grow well at high altitude, making San Luis Valley in Colorado, at 7,600 elevations from sea level, a great place to plant them.
For this reason, it contributes to the overall ability of the state to produce potatoes of about 7.5 million pounds a day, making them one of the largest producers. But one key reason for successful planting is the proper growing time.
Thus, when to plant potatoes in Colorado for proper growth? Sowing them in mid-April to mid-May, at a soil temperature of 45°F, is ideal.
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Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Colorado
1. Plant potatoes in Mid-April to Mid-May
- Grow tubers at the proper time
The best time to plant seed potatoes is around mid-April to mid-May because the soil conditions have become suitable for planting, which is essential for their growth.
On average, the rule for growing potatoes in Colorado in a container or ground is to sow them for about two weeks before the last frost date in your region.
However, since the state is large, planting dates will differ according to where you live. For example, if your location is in Colorado Springs in the Southern part, you may grow potatoes on May 1 since its last frost date is May 15.
But if you live in Fort Collins in Northern Colorado, you may sow seed potatoes on April 20 since its last spring frost ends on May 4.
- Plant tubers in the ideal site
Once you have known your last frost date and the right time to sow them, prepare a site where the plant foliage can get a maximum of 8-hour sunlight for the best root and leaf development.
But it is crucial to know tubers are the sensitive ones that must not get exposed to sunlight, as they will turn green. And green potatoes are harmful to eat. So, planting them in tires with straw is one way to protect your tubers from the sunlight.
- Use the tire as a planter and whenever the plant grows tall, place another one on top and apply straw to cover the tuber.
- Mulching them with straw will make it easy to harvest potatoes in Colorado, as you will no longer need to dig plenty of soil later on.
This hilling method will not only utilize space and prevent them from turning colors. But it will also encourage plenty of tuber formations underground.
2. Plant potatoes at a soil temperature of at least 45°F.
The good thing about planting potatoes in Colorado is that many regions are part of zones 4 and 5, and some are in zone 6. It matches the preferred growing zones of the tubers from 3 to 10.
However, although the state is ideal for cultivating potatoes, it sometimes experiences too low soil temperatures. And these conditions will not allow them to germinate.
So planting them at the right time, when the soil is around 45°-50°F, will help them grow healthy.
More so, it is essential to plant them in soil that is not soggy to avoid slow growth and decaying problems. Therefore, ensure that the ground is well-draining to fend off these threats.
However, if you plan to grow them in a bucket or any other container type, you will need to feed them often as they absorb plenty of moisture. Although they are not fond of getting drenched with so much water, being dry is also painful for them.
Thus, you can apply mulch when you plant them in pots to help them keep the proper amount of moisture.
How early can you plant potatoes in Colorado?
The earliest you can plant potatoes in Colorado will depend on your soil temperature. Although growing in the middle of April to mid-May is the best time, the soil tells when it is ready to cater to your plants.
As we previously explained, at least 45°F of soil condition is ideal for them. Planting them too early, when the ground is still cold and wet, will only result in seed rotting.
What kind of potatoes grow best in Colorado?
Some of the best potatoes to grow in Colorado are the Russet varieties like Mercury and Rio Grande. They are popular in the state for their use in baking, frying, and mashing.
Yellow kinds, such as Alegria and Latona, are also ideal because they produce massive yields and have a great flavor, which is a perfect recipe for making salads.
You can also plant red potatoes such as Cherry red and Colorado Rose. They have a delicious taste and solid texture, making them perfect for cooking and baking.
How late can potatoes be planted?
Late potato planting is still possible if you sow them before the first frost occurs. Some need at least 90 to 120 days to grow, so it is better to choose early maturing varieties to harvest them before the freezing phase begins.
Some of the best potatoes with short maturity dates of less than 95 days are Irish Cobbler, and Red Norland.
However, the downside of planting late is it doesn’t guarantee healthy growth, as they are not fond of high temperatures, which are typical during summer.
Growers in Colorado are fond of planting potatoes because of their climate from April to May and their mild ground condition that makes it easy for them to cultivate these crops.
For the best growth possible, remember to plant them two weeks before the last spring frost and sow them in moist but not soggy ground. Ensure also to place them anywhere with full sun.
And to produce plenty of tubers, try doing the hilling method using tires. I hope you learned a lot about when to plant potatoes in Colorado and have a bountiful yield of these crops!