Are Red Norland Potatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?

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Last Updated on March 28, 2024 by Tony Manhart

Did you know that there is an ongoing debate about whether Red Norland Potatoes are determinate or indeterminate? This question has sparked the interest of gardeners and potato enthusiasts alike. Determinate potatoes are known for having a more compact growth habit and producing a specific yield, while indeterminate potatoes continue to grow and produce tubers until the plants are killed by frost. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of Red Norland Potatoes and try to shed some light on this potato mystery. So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s dig into the world of Red Norland Potatoes!

What are Red Norland Potatoes?

Red Norland Potatoes are a popular and widely grown variety of potato. They have a vibrant red skin and are known for their smooth texture and excellent flavor. These potatoes are considered versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes, including mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, and potato salads. Red Norland Potatoes are highly regarded for their disease resistance, making them a favorite among gardeners and commercial potato growers alike.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate Potatoes

When it comes to potato varieties, they can be classified as either determinate or indeterminate. The terms “determinate” and “indeterminate” refer to the plant’s growth habit, specifically in regard to how the plant sets and matures its tubers.

Characteristics of Determinate Potatoes

Determinate potato plants are compact and bushy in nature, with a limited growth height. These plants typically have a shorter growing season and tend to produce a more concentrated crop of potatoes. The tubers of determinate varieties tend to set and mature all at once, making harvesting more convenient.

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Characteristics of Indeterminate Potatoes

On the other hand, indeterminate potatoes have a more sprawling growth habit, with taller and more vining stems. These plants can continue to grow and produce tubers as long as the conditions are favorable, extending the growing season. Indeterminate potatoes often set tubers at different stages, resulting in a more staggered harvest.

Determinacy of Red Norland Potatoes

Red Norland Potatoes are classified as determinate potatoes. This means that their growth habit is compact, and they have a limited height. Red Norland plants typically reach a height of about 18 to 24 inches tall, making them suitable for smaller garden spaces. Their determinate nature contributes to their ease of cultivation and harvesting.

Plant Structure of Red Norland Potatoes

The plant structure of Red Norland Potatoes consists of sturdy and compact stems. The plants have a dense foliage that helps protect the tubers from excessive sunlight, reducing the risk of greening. Red Norland plants also produce an abundance of dark green leaves that contribute to their ability to photosynthesize and produce energy for tuber growth.

Growth and Development of Red Norland Potatoes

Red Norland Potatoes follow a relatively predictable growth and development cycle. Once planted, the plants go through a period of vegetative growth, where they focus on producing and expanding their foliage. This growth phase is vital for capturing sunlight and converting it into energy. As the plants enter the reproductive stage, they start forming flower buds that develop into potato tubers. Red Norland plants tend to set and mature their tubers at a uniform pace, making them more suitable for single-time harvesting.

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Factors Affecting Determinacy

Various factors can influence the determinacy of potato varieties, including genetic factors, environmental factors, and cultural practices.

Genetic Factors

The genetic makeup of a potato variety plays a significant role in determining its growth habit. Certain potato cultivars have been selectively bred to exhibit specific growth characteristics, including determinate or indeterminate growth. Breeders carefully choose parent plants that possess the desired traits and then cross-pollinate them to produce offspring with the desired growth habit.

Environmental Factors

Environmental conditions such as temperature, sunlight, and moisture can also affect the determinacy of potato plants. Warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours can promote vegetative growth, potentially delaying tuber formation in determinate potatoes. In contrast, cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours can accelerate tuber initiation and maturation.

Cultural Practices

Cultural practices such as pruning, fertilization, and watering can influence the determinacy of potato plants. Providing optimal nutrition and water levels can promote healthy growth and tuber formation. Additionally, proper spacing and pruning techniques can help manage and control the growth habit of potato plants, ensuring that they maintain their desired determinate or indeterminate characteristics.

Significance of Determinacy in Potato Cultivation

Understanding the determinacy of potato varieties is crucial for successful cultivation, as it directly impacts various aspects of potato production.

Yield Potential

Determinate potatoes often have a more concentrated crop, with tubers setting and maturing at the same time. This can be advantageous for commercial potato growers, as it allows for efficient and timely harvesting. Indeterminate varieties, on the other hand, may have a more extended harvest period, resulting in a more extended supply of fresh potatoes.


The determinacy of potatoes significantly affects the harvesting process. With determinate varieties like Red Norland Potatoes, all the tubers can be harvested at once, simplifying the process and ensuring a complete and uniform harvest. This makes determinate potatoes ideal for those who prefer to harvest and store their potatoes in bulk.


Determinacy also plays a role in potato storage. Since determinate varieties like Red Norland Potatoes mature uniformly, their tubers have similar levels of moisture content. This uniformity makes it easier to store and maintain the quality of the harvested potatoes for an extended period. Indeterminate varieties, which have a more staggered maturity, may require more frequent monitoring and sorting to prevent spoilage during storage.

Importance of Determining Potato Varieties

Determining whether a potato variety is determinate or indeterminate is crucial for both gardeners and commercial growers. It allows them to plan their planting, harvest, and storage strategies accordingly. Additionally, knowing the growth habit of a variety can assist in optimizing space utilization, pest and disease management, and overall crop management practices.

How to Determine whether Red Norland Potatoes are Determinate or Indeterminate

To determine whether Red Norland Potatoes are determinate or indeterminate, one can employ a combination of methods.

Genetic Information

Checking the seed packet or the variety’s description can provide valuable information about the growth habit of Red Norland Potatoes. Seed providers and breeders often indicate whether a variety is determinate or indeterminate on their packaging or in their catalogs.

Observation of Plant Growth

By closely observing the growth habit of Red Norland Potatoes, one can gain insights into their determinacy. If the plants remain relatively compact and the tubers seem to mature at a similar pace, it is likely that they are determinate. On the other hand, if the plants continue to grow and produce tubers over an extended period, it suggests an indeterminate growth habit.

Consulting Potato Experts

Seeking advice from potato experts, such as local agricultural extension agents or experienced gardeners, can be beneficial in determining the growth habit of Red Norland Potatoes. These experts have extensive knowledge and experience in potato cultivation and can provide accurate information based on their expertise.

Common Varieties of Potatoes based on Determinacy

Potato varieties can be broadly categorized into determinate and indeterminate based on their growth habit.

Determinate Varieties

In addition to Red Norland Potatoes, there are several other popular determinate potato varieties. These include Yukon Gold, Kennebec, and Superior. Determinate varieties are favored for their compact growth, convenience in harvesting, and reliable yield.

Indeterminate Varieties

Some well-known indeterminate potato varieties include Russet Burbank, German Butterball, and Fingerling potatoes. Indeterminate potatoes offer a more extended harvest period and can be ideal for those who desire a continuous supply of fresh potatoes.

Cultivation Tips for Red Norland Potatoes

To successfully cultivate Red Norland Potatoes, consider the following tips:

Planting and Spacing

Plant Red Norland Potatoes in well-drained soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. Choose a location with full sun exposure. Before planting, ensure that the soil is adequately prepared by removing rocks, debris, and weeds. Space the potato seed pieces about 12 inches apart in rows, with rows spaced approximately 24 to 36 inches apart. Plant the seed pieces about 2 to 4 inches deep, with the eyes facing upwards.

Watering and Fertilization

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged to support Red Norland Potato growth. Adequate irrigation is crucial, especially during dry spells. Apply a balanced fertilizer or compost before planting, and consider side-dressing the plants with additional fertilizer a few weeks after planting.

Harvesting and Storage

Red Norland Potatoes are typically ready for harvest when the tops of the plants start to wilt and turn brown. Carefully dig out the tubers using a garden fork or shovel, being cautious not to damage or bruise them. Allow the harvested potatoes to cure in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area for a week before storing. Store them in a dark and cool location, such as a root cellar or a basement, at temperatures around 40°F (4°C) to prolong their shelf life.


Red Norland Potatoes are delicious, disease-resistant, and determinate potato varieties. Their compact growth habit, uniform maturation, and excellent flavor make them a preferred choice for both home gardeners and commercial growers. By understanding the determinacy of potato varieties and employing proper cultivation techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of Red Norland Potatoes with ease. Whether you’re planning to make creamy mashed potatoes or crispy roasted potatoes, Red Norland Potatoes are sure to be a delight in any dish.

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