Growing potatoes is exciting, whether you’re learning to grow them from seed, or just growing multiple varieties of tubers; but did you know that they can be either indeterminate or determinate as well? A lot of people don’t learn this early on; they tend to get a few harvests under their belt before they find out about this intriguing characteristic.

What Are Indeterminate Seed Potatoes?

When you think of determinate crops, you usually think of something that is rather bushy in nature, and is restricted to a certain height. For many of the earlier potato varieties, foliage growth significantly slows or comes to a halt when flowers bloom, giving them a predetermined height. These varieties are ideal for new potatoes; which, isn’t exactly what you’re looking for in an indeterminate or long season variety.

When you think of indeterminate, it is rather quite the opposite! Indeterminate potatoes will continue to grow throughout the season. Some of these potato plants may need interference to curb foliage growth to obtain a successful harvest with large, well rounded tubers. You might be familiar with indeterminate tomato varieties as an example; no matter how tall of a cage you build, the tomato plant seems to grow over the top and cascade down to the ground. These plants just don’t stop growing.

Indeterminate Seed Potato Varieties

There are several different varieties of potatoes that are late season. Since the late season varieties are also considered the indeterminate varieties, most of the late season varieties ought to do the job. The varieties will differ according to your climate and the country you live in; sometimes, availability is even affected by region. Some of the late potato varieties available in my region include the following:

  • Strawberry Paw Potatoes
  • Green Mountain Potatoes
  • Canela Russet Potatoes
  • Bintje Potatoes
  • Red Pontiac Potatoes
  • Maris Piper Potatoes
  • Lehigh Potatoes
  • German Butterball Potatoes
  • Red Maria Potatoes
  • Butte Potatoes
  • Elba Potatoes
  • Red Cloud Potatoes
  • Katahdin Potatoes
  • Desiree Potatoes

Are Indeterminate Potatoes Better Than Determinate Potato Varieties?

Since later season seed potatoes tend to produce some of the largest tubers in the highest quantities, many swear by them. A lot of people love to grow their potatoes in towers and choose the indeterminate tubers for this very purpose. They are believed to continue to grow stolons up along the length of the stem. This is commonly contradicted among seasoned potato growers, however there is evidence that this does occur.

In my humble opinion, I believe potatoes will grow along the length in VERY limited numbers; I also believe that towers that cause the plant to grow more than 18″ to 24″ to reach sunlight could actually be detrimental to the harvest. If a potato plant has to put forth an excessive amount of energy to grow taller to reach light, it cannot store that energy in the form of a tuber. This could result in fewer tubers, or smaller sized tubers as an average. Feel free to present us with your personal potato tower experiments! We’d love to see additional experiences!

How Can I Increase My Harvest Yield with Indeterminates?

If you want to ensure that your indeterminate potato crop offers the largest yield, be sure that you do not neglect them. Poor soil, drought, inadequate sunlight, and pests or disease will greatly reduce the amount and size of potatoes that you harvest. Choose a potato variety that grows quite large, such as Kennebec, as well.

As for planting, try planting the potatoes 6″ deep at the bottom of a potato tower. Once the foliage reaches 8″ tall, add 6″ more of mulch or soil. Repeat this step until you hit a maximum of 18″ to 24″. Allow the foliage to grow thereafter, and watch for the flowering stage. If the plant has not died back and you are expecting a frost, I advise you to cut the stem of the plant back about a week before the frost so that the potatoes will begin the curing process.