Growing potatoes in Arizona is a great way to grow a nutritious and popular crop. The desert climate of Arizona provides mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine, making it ideal for growing potatoes. Potatoes need well-draining soil and plenty of water, so make sure to provide plenty of both when planting. Arizona’s long growing season means potatoes can be planted in spring and harvested as late as November. To maximize your potato yield, consider planting multiple varieties and rotating your crops each season. With the right soil, water, and care, you can enjoy a plentiful harvest of potatoes in Arizona.
Arizona’s Hardiness Zones And Climate
Arizona is a state with diverse climates, ranging from the cooler zones 4b through 7b to the warmer zones 8b through 10b. Zone 4b is located in the higher elevations, Zone 4b has cold winters with temperatures reaching below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are mild with temperatures averaging in the 70s. Precipitation is minimal, averaging less than 10 inches annually.
Growing Zone 5b: In this zone, winters are cold, with temperatures dropping as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are mild, with temperatures usually averaging in the upper 70s. Total annual precipitation is about 10 inches.
Growing Zone 6b: Winters in Zone 6b are similar to Zone 5b, with temperatures dropping as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are mild, with temperatures usually averaging in the upper 70s. Total annual precipitation is about 10 inches.
Growing Zone 7b: In Zone 7b, temperatures drop to 0 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter and reach the low 80s in the summer. Annual precipitation is still low, with less than 10 inches annually.
Arizona’s Hardiness Zones 8 Through 10
Growing Zone 8b: Zone 8b has mild winters with temperatures rarely dropping below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are hot, with temperatures reaching into the 90s and higher. Rainfall totals are higher than in the other zones, with an average of 15 inches annually.
Growing Zone 9b: Zone 9b experiences mild winters, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures reaching into the upper 90s and low 100s. Rainfall is low, with an average of 10 inches annually.
Growing Zone 10b: Zone 10b is the hottest grow zone in Arizona. Winters rarely drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and summers are extremely hot, with temperatures reaching as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall totals are low, averaging 8 inches annually.
Different varieties of seed potatoes
When selecting seed potatoes for growing in Arizona, it is important to be mindful of the variety’s days to harvest and the length of time you have before you want to harvest them.
Early-season varieties such as ‘Yukon Gold’ and ‘Red Norland’ have fewer days to harvest and should be planted as soon as possible for harvesting in late summer.
Mid-season varieties such as ‘Russet Burbank’ and ‘Kennebec’ have more days to harvest and should be planted in late April or early May for harvesting in fall.
Late-season varieties such as ‘Cara Russet’ and ‘All Blue’ have the most days to harvest and should be planted in late April or early May for harvesting in early winter. Be sure to select varieties with the right number of days to harvest for your intended harvest date. Some good potato varieties for Arizona include:
- Russet Potatoes: 85-95 days
- Yukon Gold Potatoes: 90-110 days
- Red Potatoes: 80-90 days
- Purple Potatoes: 90-110 days
- Fingerling Potatoes: 90-120 days
- Sweet Potatoes: 90-120 days
- White Potatoes: 90-100 days
- All-Blue Potatoes: 95-105 days
- Yellow Finn Potatoes: 85-95 days
- Kennebec Potatoes: 85-95 days
When To Plant Potatoes In Arizona
In Arizona, potatoes should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, usually late March or early April. Planting can continue until late May or early June.
- Zone 4: Around April 30th
- Zone 5: Around April 15th
- Zone 6: Around April 7th
- Zone 7: Around March 24th
- Zone 8: Around March 14th
- Zone 9: Around February 14th
- Zone 10: After January 15th
How To Plant Potatoes In Arizona
Begin the planting process for seed potatoes by tilling the soil to a depth of 8 inches and incorporating organic compost. Once you have done this, find a sunny location that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight and place the seed potatoes.
Plant the seed potatoes with the “eyes” facing upward, leaving a distance of 8 to 10 inches in between each. Cover the seed potatoes with a layer of soil that is 3-4 inches thick, and make sure to water them adequately. As the potatoes start to sprout, add more soil to the rows to keep them adequately buried.
Water the potatoes on a regular basis and remove any weeds from the area. For those living in hot and dry climates, you may want to cover the soil around the potatoes with straw, although this is not essential.
Caring For Potato Plants
Caring for potato plants is pretty easy – they’re incredibly hardy and generally no-fuss. Potato plants need full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. They should be watered deeply and regularly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
Fertilizing is also important for optimal growth. Potato plants need a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This should be applied every four to six weeks, depending on the soil’s nutrient content.
It is also important to keep the soil evenly moist, as potatoes do not tolerate dry or waterlogged conditions. Mulching around the potato plants can help retain moisture and reduce weeds.
When To Harvest Potatoes In Arizona
There are two sure ways to know your potatoes are about ready to harvest! The first is counting backward from your current date to their planting date. Potato varieties have an approximate number of days to harvest, so consult the days to harvest for the particular variety of potatoes you’ve planted. If you aren’t sure, assume it’s around 100 days.
The appearance of your potato plants is another dead giveaway. You will know your potatoes are ready to harvest when the foliage begins to turn yellow and die back. Your plants will go through an entire flowering cycle, which is nice because the flowers are really beautiful.
Allow the soil around the plants to dry before harvesting, but don’t allow it to be dry for too long. Once harvested, inspect the potatoes carefully- they should be firm and free of green or soft spots.
Carefully dig up the potatoes with a garden fork, taking care not to damage the potatoes in the process. Once the potatoes have all been dug up, brush off any excess soil and inspect them for any damage. Discard any potatoes that are damaged, as these are not suitable for long-term storage.
Finally, gently place the potatoes in a cool, dry, and dark area for storage. It is important to only store undamaged potatoes, as damaged potatoes can quickly rot.