Determining when to plant potatoes in Tennessee is straightforward. All you have to do is sow them when the weather is moderately warm and the soil is dry and not soggy.
Typically, the ideal Tennessee planting schedule for this vegetable is March 1 to April 15 in the spring and July 1 to July 31 in the fall. Read below for more tips on cultivating potatoes.
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Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Tennessee
1. Plant potatoes two to four weeks before the last frost
Since potatoes can withstand cold weather down to 29 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow them outside two to four weeks before the last frost without worrying about cold weather damage.
That said, it’s best to aim for a temperature of 45 to 55 degrees for optimal root development.
In Tennessee, the final frost usually occurs in April, with some regions recording their final freeze in March or May, making March and April the best months for planting.
2. Plant potatoes early enough in the fall to let them mature before the first frost
When growing potatoes in Tennessee during the fall, gardeners must look up their first frost and deduct from it their variety’s maturation period.
Since extreme freeze in the lower twenties can damage these plants, they should be harvested before the tubers rot and become inedible.
Given that Tennessee’s first frost falls around October 15 to November 15, a potato that grows in 100 days must be in the ground by July 7 or August 7 at the latest.
We’ve estimated the potatoes growing season for different hardiness regions in Tennessee below.
|Last frost date||Spring planting||First frost date||Fall planting|
|Zone 5||May 30||May 2||October 1||June 23|
|Zone 6||May 15||April 17||October 15||July 7|
|Zone 7||April 15||March 18||October 30||July 22|
|Zone 8||March 15||February 16||November 15||August 7|
You can use the USDA’s zone map to determine your climate region. Athens is in zone 7a, for example, while Somerville is in zone 7b.
Tips for Successful Potatoes Planting in Tennessee
Here are some basic steps to follow to grow potatoes in Tennessee.
- Buy disease-free seed potatoes and not the ones from grocery stores. Some varieties to try out are Superior, Kennebec, Dark Red Norland, Peter Wilcox, and Yukon Gold.
- Chit the potatoes a month before planting them. Put the tubers in egg cartons with the eyes up under a temperature of 70℉ for two weeks. Do not expose them to light during this time.
- Wait two weeks before moving the sprouted tubers to a windowsill with indirect light. This spot should measure 50℉.
- Cut the seed potatoes into small pieces once the shoots are an inch long, all while making sure each piece has at least two eyes. Do this step a week before planting so that the cuts have time to dry and become ‘leathery’ in texture.
- At this point, you can start planting. The soil should have a pH of 4.8 to 5.5 for scab resistance, adequate drainage to prevent rot, and six hours of full sun for optimal development.
- Sow seed potatoes at a depth of 3 to 5 inches in rows that are 30 inches apart. The distance between tubers should be 12 inches, and they must receive one to two inches of water per week.
- Throughout the growing season, it is recommended that you hill up your potato (or cover all parts of the plant with soil, except for the foliage) so that the potato flesh doesn’t turn bitter.
It’s also wise to fertilize the ground with a balanced N-P-K formula at seeding time and some additional nitrogen two months after. Conduct a soil test for proper recommendations, as too much nitrogen will hinder tuber development.
Irish potatoes are easy to grow and care for, making them excellent choices for home gardeners who enjoy vegetables. These plants emerge within two to four weeks after sowing and will form shoots quickly if you chit them beforehand.
All you need to know is when to plant potatoes in Tennessee to grow them in the Volunteer State.
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