Growing potatoes in Texas can be a rewarding but challenging feat. The intense heat and dry climate of Texas can make it difficult for potatoes to thrive. With proper management, however, it is possible to successfully grow potatoes in Texas. It’s important to choose a variety of potatoes that are well-suited to the climate and to make sure that the soil is well-draining and has plenty of organic matter. With the right conditions, you can successfully grow potatoes in Texas and enjoy the rewards of your hard work!
Texas’s Hardiness Zones And Climate
Texas is known for its wide range of climates due to its size and geographic location. The state typically experiences hot summers and mild winters. The highest temperatures occur in the summer while the lowest temperatures occur in the winter. Depending on the area, temperatures can range from the high 90s to 100s in the summer to the low 20s in the winter.
The hardiness zones of Texas range from 6b to 9a. Zone 6b is typically found in the western and northern parts of the state and experiences much cooler temperatures than the rest of the state. This zone typically experiences temperatures ranging from 0-10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. 9a is found in the southern parts of the state.
Find your Texas hardiness zone here.
Different varieties of seed potatoes
When selecting seed potatoes for growing in Texas, 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 late fall to 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 Texas 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 Texas
In Texas, potatoes should be planted at the beginning of the growing season, typically in March or April, when the soil has warmed to at least 60°F. Planting should be done two weeks before the average last spring frost date, which usually falls in late March or early April. Be mindful of your weather forecast in the upcoming days and weeks – if it appears your region may have a late frost, delay planting your potatoes by a few extra days. The approximate planting dates for each zone in Texas are:
- Zone 6: Around April 7th
- Zone 7: Around March 24th
- Zone 8: Around March 14th
- Zone 9: Around February 14th
How To Plant Potatoes In State
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 Texas
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.