A Guide On How Often To Water Potatoes

A Guide On How Often To Water Potatoes

When growing this crop, how often to water potatoes is a topic that most gardeners struggle with, not knowing how often they should water.

Growing a bountiful crop of potatoes in your home garden is possible, but you need to know the basics, especially the water requirements for potatoes.

Potato plants require a consistent watering schedule and cool soil temperatures to produce a good crop.  Too much or too little water can jeopardize the plant’s health and impair tuber formation.

How Often To Water Potatoes

Potatoes need different amounts of water at various times to produce to the best of their ability.  Generally, potatoes require at least 1-2 inches of water each week without allowing them to dry out.

Water needs for your potatoes during their growing season is as follows:

  • From planting to 30 days:  Low water needs.
  • 30-60 days:  Water is critical for vegetative growth and early tuber formation.
  • 60-90 days: Water is essential for tuber bulking.
  • 90-120 days:  Tops begin to yellow and die back.  Average water is needed but not excessively because they are nearing harvest.

Potato plants should be watered deeply, especially if the weather is scorching and dry. The soil should always maintain a moisture level of 8 to 10 inches underground. Ensure you do not overwater the potatoes 2 weeks after planting.  During the first weeks of planting, water every 4 to 5 days.

6 to 8 weeks after planting, water the plants every single day or 2 days apart.  During this time, the plant is beginning to make new potatoes underground. Watering them frequently will help the potatoes grow bigger and more evenly.

So to answer the question of how often should I water potatoes, give them plenty of water.  However, please note that too much water could cause problems that could cause you to lose some of your crops.

So how much water is too much?  And how often is watering needed? It may sound not very easy, but we will break this down into three simple steps.  All you have to do is identify each stage of the potato’s growth and follow the watering schedule we will share.  Then watch your potatoes thrive!

The Three Most Important Stages To Water Potatoes

The three most critical watering stages include – flowering, tuber set, and maturing stage.

  • The Flowering Stage.  This is the stage where your potatoes begin to form tubers.  At this stage, water your potatoes heavily, ensuring they receive enough water to help with production. When the flowers are in full bloom, the tubers begin to grow in size very quickly.  Try watering 4 times per week thoroughly (rather than soaking).
Potato Flowering Stage
  • The Tuber Stage.  By watering your potatoes in the flowering stage in this manner, you will keep your plants healthy, encouraging excellent tuber production.  Watering 4 times a week ensures you won’t leave your plants with wet feet.  If the water sits for too long, it may lead to fungal infections or tuber rot.
  • Maturing Stage.  Watering needs to be kept consistent until the potato plants begin to turn yellow and wilt.  When they do, it shows they no longer need watering.

Potato Plant Watering Method

Drip irrigation is the best method of potato watering.  Overhead irrigation can hurt young, fragile plants.

Using a watering can tend to direct too much water to the foliage and very little to its roots where it’s needed most. Wet foliage encourages fungal growth weakening the plant structure.

Considerations To Take When You Water Potatoes

  • Do Not Overwater.  Over-watering potato plants promote root rot, cause irregular tuber formation, and increase the risk of disease.
  • Do Not Underwater.  Underwatering makes the soil dry out completely, prohibiting tuber formation, leading to irregular tubers with imperfections.  Poor watering practices result in stressed plants that may not overcome or take long, even if the issue is corrected.

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It is best to water your potatoes early morning hours to avoid the afternoon sun evaporating all the water.  The afternoon sun is usually hot and causes the water to dry out first before the plant has a chance to take it in.

You can also put a layer of mulch around potato plants, especially after they blossom. Straw, grass clippings, chopped-up leaves, and shredded newspapers all work well as mulch. Mulching will allow the soil to retain moisture and help prevent the growth of weeds.

The Potatoes Maturity Stage

As the plants wither, changing their color to yellow, it’s time to stop watering.  This stage allows the potatoes to cure and harden, so they are ready for harvesting.  The curing stage lasts between 1 and 2 weeks.

Cover the bed with a breathable, waterproof tarp that will allow some light in during the final week of curing. This is the best to use in areas with heavy clay soil that may never dry out.

The curing process toughens the potato’s skin giving them the ability to store very well for a more extended period.  Excess water slows this process down or causes root rot in extremely wet conditions.

As potatoes get closer to their harvesting time, they need less water.  This helps them cure, dry, and toughen up before you dig them, thus lasting longer in storage.

The Potatoes Maturity Stage

Harvesting Your Potatoes

When you stop watering for the plants to cure, you don’t need water anywhere near these mature potatoes.  Any contact with water can make your potatoes rot which is the last thing any gardener wants, especially after hard work.

Once you harvest your crop, let it dry under a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 days to remove all the soil and then store them.  Ensure that you keep them in a cool, dry place away from any moisture or direct sunlight.

Conclusion

Having learned how often to water potatoes, it is now easier to grow your potatoes in your home garden or containers.  Knowing the basic water requirements for potatoes and following them during the growing period is vital to producing a good crop.

Next time you are growing potatoes be sure to follow the watering steps we have shared above to help you develop a healthy-looking crop.  Then you will discover the joy of harvesting your potatoes and enjoying them as much as you wish.