How to Harvest a Potato Plant


Potatoes are considered to be an important staple food. The potato plant prefers cooler temperatures and will even withstand light frosts. The plants are grown from the "eyes" on potatoes; with just a handful of these eyes, you can start your own small crop. The part of the potato plant that's eaten is the tuber that forms underground. Tubers typically form when temperatures range between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit; they can be harvested in the late fall.

Step 1

Watch your plants in the late fall for the proper time to harvest the tubers. Begin harvesting about 14 days after the plants have died (the plants will become dry and brown) and before temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the soil is dry when you begin harvesting; otherwise, your potatoes may split or crack during storage.

Step 2

Use your spading fork to loosen the soil around your plants to a depth of 6 inches. Work slowly and carefully so that you don't bruise the potato tubers.

Step 3

Use a hand shovel to push dirt aside to find the potato tubers around each plant; one plant can develop several tubers. Use a towel to loosen any excess dirt from the tubers. Carefully place the tubers into a bowl so that they don't get bruised.

Step 4

Put your tubers in the storage bin and cure them in a location with a humidity of about 85 percent and temperatures between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days. The humidity and temperature level improves the skin on your potatoes, which makes them more resistant against damage. Tubers become more susceptible to damage once they have been harvested.

Step 5

Use sanitizer to clean your storage bin well. Dry the bin with a towel and set it aside for a few hours until it's completely dry.

Step 6

Leave your tubers in the storage bin and place them in a cooler, dark location. Store them at 40 degrees with a humidity of 90 to 95 percent until you're ready to eat them. Wash your potatoes under running water before consuming them.

Things You'll Need

  • Spading fork
  • Hand shovel
  • Towel
  • Bowl
  • Sanitizer
  • Storage bin


  • University of Illinois: Potato
  • Colorado State University: Harvesting and Storing Potatoes
  • Ohio State University: Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden
Keywords: root vegetables, tuber vegetables, growing vegetables

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.