We like to bank the potatoes about ten days to two weeks after they are planted. The shallow hills the potatoes are planted in promote early growth of the plants. If we bank too early, we would inhibit the early growth. If we bank too late, we would break the seedlings.
Why do we do this job? Primarily we need to protect the potatoes from the sunlight as the tubers begin to form. Should they become exposed to sunlight, they will turn green and will be inedible. A second reason is it rips out weeds that are forming between the rows and would be competing with our potatoes should they continue to grow. Banking therefore reduces our reliance on herbicides. And lastly, banking also encourages longer stem growth. Since little potatoes are formed right on the stem, the longer the stem, more potatoes will have room to form and mature.
This photo slide show starts a few weeks ago when we first began banking and moves into the present day. The first three pictures highlight the deep hills. The crop has emerged in the last two pictures.
Be sure to visit Spud Smarts – About Growing Potatoes to find out more about how we grow potatoes.