Do I need to cut the tops of potatoes

Lush potato tops are perceived by many farmers as a guarantee of a generous harvest of large tubers. But after flowering, accelerated fruit growth begins, and too dense green mass of the plant can draw all nutrients from the soil. This is why many farmers recommend mowing potato tops to increase yield. In this article, we will figure out whether a plant needs a lush green mass, in what time it is better to cut it and how.

Did you know? La Bonnotte is the most expensive potato in the world. It is grown on the island of Noirmoutier and sold at a price of about 500 euros per 1 kg.

Why cut potato tops

Potato fruits begin to form even before the flowering period of the bush, but they grow most intensively within a month after the appearance of inflorescences. In the presence of green leaves, young tubers are practically not transportable and are very little stored, because their skin is too thin and delicate. To improve the quality of fruits and ensure long-term storage of the crop in winter, it is necessary to mow potato tops in a timely manner.

Here are some of the main reasons why cutting potato tops is not only possible, but also necessary:

  • the risk of late blight of tubers is reduced;
  • the plant spends energy only on the growth of tubers, and not on the growth of the terrestrial part of the plant;
  • all nutrients and vitamins are concentrated in the fruits, as a result of which they become more useful;
  • pruning the green mass of the bush contributes to uniform ripening of the crop throughout the site, because if there are green leaves, even the bushes in the same area may turn uneven;
  • the peel of the fruit quickly becomes dense, which ensures long-term storage of tubers;
  • the left “tails” of the stems will help to more accurately determine the center of the bush after the maturation of the plants, as a result of which it will be possible to avoid mechanical damage to the fruit during harvesting.

Important! Do not dig potatoes immediately after mowing the tops! The tubers need to be left in the ground for several days so that they grow stronger and better stored in the winter.

When to cut

You need to cut the green leaves of the bush before digging, and the exact timing of this procedure depends on the type of potato. Early ripening varieties ripen in late August, later in September, so trimming green mass for different types of potatoes is carried out at different times. In addition, many farmers argue about whether it is possible to cut the tops of potatoes immediately after flowering.

Let us consider in more detail the recommended terms for mowing potato tops, depending on various conditions:

  • on healthy plants, it is recommended that the green mass be cut off about 7–10 days before the tubers are dug up;
  • the stems of the bush need to be cut after yellowing 70% of the green mass of plants, because in this case it does not bring potatoes any benefit, but continues to absorb nutrients from the soil;
  • You can mow the ground part of the bush no earlier than a month after flowering is complete, because until that time it takes part in the nutrition of tubers and contributes to their active growth;
  • for late varieties, green mass should be cut not later than 3 weeks before the predicted frosts;
  • on those potato bushes that are grown only for seed, you can cut the green part already 3 weeks after flowering so that the fruits do not grow too large and are better preserved until next spring;
  • if the plants are affected by late blight, then the green mass is trimmed immediately after the detection of the disease so that it does not pass to the fruits.

Important! In no case should you use mowed green tops as feed for livestock! It contains poisonous solanine, which can cause serious poisoning in animals.

Does potato grow after cutting tops

After flowering, the phase of active growth of the fruits begins, during which they receive the necessary nutrients not only from the soil, but also through the lush ground part of the bush. Many inexperienced growers are interested in the question of whether potato tubers grow after withering tops. If the green mass of the bush wilted naturally, then this signals the full ripening of tubers.

After mowing the tops, the potato fruits also stop growing, but continue to be actively saturated with nutrients and vitamins. In addition, the removal of leaves leads to the fact that the earth between the rows of plants dries up, and the skin of the fruit is compacted. As a result, potatoes are better stored in the winter.

You will be interested to know why potato tops are drying and what should be done.

Topping rules

The process of mowing the ground part of the plant is a necessary action before digging up the crop and does not present any special difficulties. But experienced farmers are advised to adhere to certain rules, which will further simplify harvesting.

Consider the main recommendations on how to cut potato tops properly:

  • green mass is removed with a sharp knife or mowed;
  • if the tubers will be dug using special equipment, it is recommended to cut the stems of the bush at the root;
  • for manual harvesting when mowing tops, you need to leave “tails” 15–20 cm long, for which it will be convenient to pull ripened tubers;
  • you can cut the leaves of the bushes in two stages - first cut off the lush top consisting of leaves, and after 7 days, trim the remaining stems;
  • the mowed green mass must be removed from the garden (you can dry it and use it as a layer of mulch for bushes of currants, raspberries and gooseberries);
  • if the potato is ill with late blight, then the leaves cut off from the affected plants must be burned.

Learn more about what to do if the tops of the potatoes turn black or yellow.

Potato is one of the most popular plants that are grown in large and small suburban areas. You can increase the yield of this crop by various methods, one of which is mowing the ground part of the bush. Using all the rules and recommendations described above will help you figure out how to properly mow potato tops in order to get a good and high-quality crop.

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