Avoid Planting Fall Potatoes in Alabama

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Avoid planting potatoes in the fall in Alabama, says Alabama Extension vegetable specialist Joe Kemble.

Alabama farmers and gardeners have planted or are currently planting their fall vegetable crops. One crop that Joe Kemble, Alabama Extension vegetable specialist, says producers need to avoid are fall potatoes. They simply don’t do well in any part of the state, due to the high soil temperatures.

“Fall potatoes in Alabama do not do well at all. The reason is potatoes are really sensitive to temperatures again,” Kemble said. “They get a condition called heat necrosis where the vascular tissue in the tubers will get an off color. They’ll actually almost look like they’ve been cooked inside. Usually the stands are pretty bad. You will get some production. But they are cool season plants, they do not like hot weather.

 “We only grow varieties that mature by early seasons. They all tend to be early season varieties like Atlantic or Potomac or any of the red potatoes or Yukon Golds. They all tend to be early maturing varieties. Varieties like the Fingerling varieties, those tend to be mid-season to late-season varieties; those tend to be a little bit hit and miss because they may take too long to mature and then you end up with all kinds of weird problems on the tubers because the soil temperatures got too warm. Fall potatoes don’t work well in Alabama.”

Kemble said producers grow a lot of Irish potatoes in Alabama. But normally in the southern part of the state, the growers will sew them around Christmas time. Farmers in northern Alabama will plant them a little bit later. A little light frost does not hurt.