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Marie Iannotti

All Tops, No Potatoes. What Happened?

By February 16, 2013

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Growing anything underground for the entire season is a leap of faith and it is seriously disappointing to wait and then pull up nothing. Someone asked me why their potatoes looked fine on top, but no potatoes developed last year. He does not want to be disappointed again. These are the 2 things I know of that can hamper potato development.

  1. The temperature stayed too warm. Potatoes like to cool off in the evenings. Keep piling on the soil, as the plant grows, or at least give it a good 4" of mulch.
  2. Too much nitrogen, too little phosphorous. We always talk about wanting our plants to develop a good root system, but this is one time when it really matters. Choose a fertilizer with a low 1st number (nitrogen) and a high 2nd number (phosphorous)

Potatoes also need a lot of water, especially while they're in flower. But since the tops of the plants grew well, water probably wasn't the problem.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you have any advice to share?

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Comments

March 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm
(1) Malcolm says:

6-24-24 fertlizer for below ground root plants such as radishes, potatoes,beets and others.

August 6, 2010 at 11:57 am
(2) Dyan Logan says:

the first year i planted potatoes I grew only tops bearing what looked like small cherry tomatoes and nothing under the soil.10 years later and many successful harvests since the neighborhood still talks about it. now I am growing deer truffles in my strawberries.

August 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm
(3) gardening says:

Deer truffles? That doesn’t sound like a good thing. What are deer truffles?

February 17, 2013 at 6:45 am
(4) CB Hume says:

http://www.fungimag.com/winter-2012-articles/FalseTruffles26-27LR.pdf

My curiosity got peaked, this is what I found on Deer Truffles.

February 17, 2013 at 8:22 am
(5) gardening says:

Thanks, CB. Interesting article. I really should pay more attention to the fungi growing throughout my yard. I don’t think I’d ever trust myself to determine what’s edible and what’s deadly, but I can definitely see deer truffles showing up on a menu, in the not too distant future – and at a hefty price.

February 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm
(6) Anita says:

The same thing happened to me last year with my potatoes. The plants looked great. Then they lost their leaves, came back full and then at harvest time I got a handful of tiny little potatoes. Since I’m a glutton for punishment I am trying again this year and will pay closer attention to the fertilizer.

February 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm
(7) gardening says:

Anita, I wonder why the leaves dropped. That could be part of the problem. I hope this year goes better. We’re all gluttons for punishment, in the garden.

June 10, 2013 at 1:14 am
(8) Twila says:

I get a pretty good yield but my plants grow huge. My mother in-law once told me they used to whip them to make the plant smaller has anyone ever done that and if so do you wait until after it flowers?

June 10, 2013 at 6:35 am
(9) gardening says:

Twila, that’s a new one to me. Did they break the stalks?

I know getting seedling stems to sway and bend makes for sturdier plants, but I’m curious why it would make them produce more potatoes. I’d love to see them doing it.

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