Effective Methods for Potato Spacing

Spacing potatoes properly is one of the most important steps in planting potatoes. How far apart to plant potatoes depends mostly on the variety of potato, as some smaller varieties have larger spreads than large potato varieties, and vice versa.

Fingerling and other small varieties of potatoes can sometimes have doubled-up rows within each trench and still produce a high yield. Typically, 12-inches of space between each potato is perfect. Most standard and larger size potatoes need at least three feet of space between each of their rows and 12 to 15-inches or more between each seed potato.

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Why is it Important to Space Potatoes Properly?

Potatoes grow differently than other underground plants. Instead of growing down further into the ground, they grow up. New potatoes form from the eyes of other potatoes. As they grow bigger, the potatoes under the ground spread out and up. If the potatoes aren’t given enough room in the ground, they can become deformed, not reach maximum girth, and fewer potatoes may grow on the plant.

potato spacing

Photo by Gavin Anderson licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Gardeners also have to complete a routine process called hilling as potatoes grow. During the hilling process, gardeners will move soil up and around the base of the stalk that grows above the ground. They need quite a bit of soil to do this, as this ensures that growing potatoes never get exposed to sunlight or other weather conditions.

If gardeners don’t leave enough space between their potatoes when they plant them, they put their plants at risk by not being able to adequately hill them.

Why Do Space Requirements Differ for Fingerlings or Small Varieties and Standard or Larger Varieties of Potatoes?

Fingerling potatoes is the name given to smaller varieties of potatoes that are especially useful for roasting in recipes. They are given the name for their small size, usually no larger than three to four inches and between one and two inches in diameter, and finger-like shape. Other small varieties of potatoes can be an inch in diameter or smaller. Standard or larger size potatoes can encompass a wide number of varieties, but are typically larger than 2 ½ inches in diameter.

Fingerling or other small varieties of potatoes can be planted whole or cut into pieces if they’re particularly long. Even though they’re small, they can produce a high yield of new crops. Still, each potato is small, so the space needed between each planted fingerling or small variety of potato isn’t as much as needed by standard potatoes. Standard or larger sizes can produce high yields as well, and with bigger potatoes, so they usually require more space between each plant.

How Far Apart Should Rows Be?

When deciding how far apart to plant potatoes of different varieties, you should first consider how far apart to make your rows of trenches. If you want to learn how to create a trench for best potato spacing and growth, check out this video by Get Planting.

Space out your rows of trenches using a hoe or large rake. Each trench should be about one meter, or just about three feet, wide. This will ensure that your rows have plenty of space between them for best potato growth and yield. Both small and standard or larger size potatoes will benefit from this distance between each trench.

How Far Apart Should Each Potato Be?

Now that you have properly spaced trenches, you should focus your attention on the spacing between each potato. This can vary widely depending on the variety of potato you’re planting. Let’s look at some of the most popular potato varieties and how far apart they typically need to be spaced for best health and yield.

Fingerlings and Small Varieties

GrowVeg recommends that, as a general rule of thumb, fingerlings should be planted in double rows within a trench for maximum productivity, and about twelve inches apart from one another. Or, if you specifically want to grow smaller fingerlings, you can opt for about eight inches between each potato.

But, this can change depending on the size of fingerlings you want to grow and the variety of fingerlings. Some need more space than others. Most small varieties of potatoes can grow adequately without a large amount of space, but always check your specific variety for optimal growing conditions.

Red Thumb fingerling seed potatoes are a popular variety that grows a plant about eight inches long at maximum maturity. Red Thumb fingerling seed potatoes should be placed about twelve inches apart for full growth and rows should not be doubled. Instead, make each row about three feet apart.

Yukon Gold is one of the most popular small varieties of potatoes for adding to soup, boiling, or baking. Each potato, at full maturity, gets about three or four inches big, but the full plant reaches about twelve inches. Burpee recommends spacing each Yukon Gold potato at least ten to twelve inches apart for maximum production.

Standard or Larger Size

SFGate says that for standard seed potatoes, the general spacing should be about twelve inches apart. However, as with fingerlings and smaller varieties, the actual spacing can change depending on your specific potato variety.

Sarpo Mira is a maincrop variety of potato, meaning that it matures during the average season timeline. Maincrops are usually larger and need more space to grow. Sarpo Mira, at full maturity, has a plant about 24-inches wide, and needs at least 18-inches of space between each planted potato to reach full growth.

Russet potatoes, popular especially for baking because of their large size, are the most commonly grown potatoes in the United States. Even though the potatoes the plant produces are large like the seed potato, the recommended distance between each planted potato is about twelve inches apart. This spacing can still produce about 10 to 15 pounds of Russet potatoes. However, ensure that you have at least three feet of space between each row of Russets for best production.

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