The annual potato harvest begins with new potatoes. Here is our overview of new potato varieties and what to consider when growing them.
Every potato variety (Solanum tuberosum) ripens at a different time. However, new potatoes ripen first, at the beginning of summer, and herald the start of the potato harvest.
What are new potatoes?
New potatoes are varieties that need around 120 days to mature. They are divided into three groups: first early (90-110 days), second early (110-120 days) and early maincrop (120-140 days). This means that the first early potatoes are ready for harvest as early as mid-June.
Here is our summary of the most popular early potato varieties.
What is the difference between new potatoes and maincrop potatoes? Maincrop potatoes require significantly longer to mature than do new potatoes; between 140 and 160 days. While maincrop potatoes store longer, early potato varieties are less affected by disease.
Early potato varieties
First early potato varieties
First earlies have a short growing period and are ready for harvest just 90-110 days after sowing. They can be harvested from mid-June to early July.
Once you have harvested your first earlies, be sure to eat them, because they won’t store long!
‘Annabelle’: Early potato with firm flesh and very early harvest. An elongated, slightly curved, light variety, this waxy potato is ideal for potato salad or as a jacket potato. Its delicate flavour is particularly delicious. Harvest in June.
‘Augusta’: The earliest floury potato variety, these round, ovular tubers are yellow, and can be harvested in July. Because of its mild flavour, this variety is delicious in soups, potato scones or a roast.
‘Finka’: A deep yellow, oval, waxy variety with a strong flavour. ‘Finka’ can be harvested from July and is great mashed or boiled.
‘Glorietta’: Waxy potato that ripens in July. The skin and flesh or ‘Glorietta’ are deep yellow. This variety is great in a potato salad or as a flavourful jacket potato.
‘Hela’: An oval, light-yellow potato, with waxy, floury flesh. Yellow and mild, ‘Hela’ is great mashed, boiled and baked.
‘Rosara’: Very early variety with red-skin and waxy, deep yellow flesh. ‘Rosara’ can be creamy and delicate, or aromatic and tangy –there is something for everyone!
‘Solist’: A waxy, round potato that matures from mid-June. This variety is high-yielding and has a low susceptibility to most potato diseases.
Second early potato varieties
Second early potato varieties are ready for harvest about 110 to 120 days after planting. This means you can dig them up from the end of July. Second earlies can be stored for a few weeks.
‘Goldmarie’: An early maturing, yellow fleshed, waxy potato with an oval shape. This variety has a good shelf life and yield, and is extremely resistant to Rhizoctonia infections and the Y virus (potyvirus).
‘Marabell’: Light yellow, sweet-tasting variety that is particularly popular nowadays. Its waxy texture and delicious flavour are best enjoyed baked or boiled.
‘Red Duke of York’: Round-oval potato with striking red skin. Also known as ‘Red First’, the ‘Red Duke of York’s’ waxy, yellow flesh is particularly tasty boiled or mashed.
Early maincrop potato varieties
Early maincrop potatoes need 120 to 140 days to reach maturity. Harvest them from the end of August. They can be stored for an extended period.
‘Adretta’: Early maincrop, floury potato variety with round, light-yellow flesh and a strong, tangy flavour. ‘Adretta’ has a low susceptibility to late blight (Phytophthora infestans).
‘Blauer Schwede’: Round, purple potato variety with a strong flavour. It’s waxy texture is ideal for purple mash or roast potatoes.
‘Nemo’: Red-yellow patterned variety with bold yellow flesh. This long, oval, floury root has a mild, fruity flavour and is delicious mashed and baked .
‘Regina’: Waxy variety with oval, ochre-coloured skin and light yellow flesh. ‘Regina’ has a great flavour and is ideal for roast potatoes or potato salad.
‘Red Emmalie’: ‘Red Emmalie’ is an elongated, waxy, red potato variety. It was only approved in 2012, and has a very tangy taste. Its skin and flesh are magenta, which makes it ideal for an eye-catching pink gnocchi.
Growing new potatoes
You can chit (pre-sprout) early potatoes or plant them directly in the ground. Chitting brings the harvest forward by about two to three weeks. To chit your potatoes, look for a warm windowsill with plenty of light, and plant the seeds from March onwards. Chitted potatoes can be sown in the ground from mid-April, weather permitting.
If you are not chitting your potatoes, plant them from May onwards. Read our article on planting potatoes for more detailed instructions.
Potatoes grow just as well in plant pots as flower beds. However, you will need to use a nutrient-rich potting soil, such as our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost. This compost is ideal for potatoes because its high humus content promotes root formation and a healthy soil ecosystem.
When to harvest new potatoes
Before harvesting early potatoes, make sure their skins are well formed, otherwise they will be difficult to store. Immature potato skin causes the potato to rot very quickly.
Importantly, unlike maincrop potatoes, a new potato’s foliage need not die before you pull it up from the ground. However, to be absolutely sure, read our article on harvesting potatoes.
Growing potatoes in a polyculture has many advantages. Find out about the best companion plants for potatoes, and how to repel pests by reading our article!