QUESTION: What are determinate and indeterminate potatoes? Does it matter? I’ve only heard of it related to tomatoes, but not potatoes. – Anne C
JENNIFER POINDEXTER AT GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: Determinate potatoes are bushier plants. They also have a faster rate of maturity and only grow between 70 to 90 days.
Indeterminate potatoes are larger plants with a longer growing period. Indeterminate potatoes typically grow for 110 to 135 days before it’s time to harvest.
Differences and Common Varieties of Determinate and Indeterminate Potatoes
The main differences between the two types of potatoes are the style of plant produced (bush-like plants versus those with more vines), amount of time to reach harvest, and the size of the harvest.
Indeterminate potatoes tend to have a larger harvest where they produce layers of tubers. Determinate varieties are only able to produce one layer of tubers which decreases the size of the harvest.
Some of the common varieties of indeterminate potatoes are:
· Red Pontiac
Some of the common varieties of determinate potatoes are:
· Yukon gold
Does Determinate or Indeterminate Matter?
Does the type of potato you grow make a difference? The questions you should ask yourself when trying to figure this out for your situation are:
· How much room is available for growing space?
· How long is my growing season?
· Do I have a goal for the size of my harvest?
If you’re limited on space or time, then yes, picking a determinate variety of potato could help you reach harvest prior to frost or grow in a tighter space.
However, if you live somewhere with plenty of room to grow and with a longer growing season, then whether you grow a determinate or indeterminate variety of potato is up to your preference.
Also, some people grow their gardens to supplement what they must buy at the grocery store. Other people aim to grow, preserve, and store as much homegrown produce as possible to last throughout the year.
This isn’t feasible for everyone due to lack of growing space or lack of storage space. Yet, if you’re someone with a goal for your harvest size, then whether you’re growing a determinate or indeterminate variety of potato could make the difference for you.
As discussed, determinate varieties don’t normally produce as large of a harvest as indeterminate varieties which could be a problem for someone who wishes to grow a year’s worth of potatoes from their home garden.
Most people pick their potato variety based upon how they commonly use potatoes and flavor preferences.
Some even pick potatoes based upon the coloring due to the additional vitamins you may consume by eating a diet with different colors.
There are many ways to decide which potatoes are the right fit for your garden. Determinate and indeterminate varieties are one more way to make this decision.
If you’re new to the idea of determinate or indeterminate varieties of potatoes, you aren’t alone. Many people don’t realize that potatoes fall into these different categories.
However, now that you know, use this information to help you decide which varieties could be the best fit for your gardening methods, gardening goals, and planting zone.
Potato Growing Quick Reference Chart
|Hardiness||Half-hardy annual; withstands light frosts|
|Planting||Time: March 15 – May 1 (based on location)|
Soil temp: At least 45°F
Method: 1½ to 2 oz. seed pieces or whole seed potatoes
|Sunlight||Full sun (6-10 hours/day)|
|Days to Maturity||70 – 135 days |
Determinate: 70 to 90,
Indeterminate: 110 to 135
|Spacing||8″ – 12″ in-rows x 24″ – 36″ between rows|
|Yield||6 to 15 lbs. per 10-foot row|
|Problems||Colorado potato beetle, Common scab, Potato leafhopper, Potato tuberworm|
|Care||Soil: Well-drained, pH 6.0 to 6.5 |
Hilling: Shield tubers, tops no more than 6-in. above grade
Temperature: Above 80°F inhibits development
Watering: Regular, avoid overhead watering
Weeding: Hand-pull, use straw mulch
|Storing||Cure: 10 to 14 days at 50°F to 60°F |
Store: 40°- 50°F, 6 to 8 months, avoid light exposure