Potatoes are one of the most popular foods in every family meal. Potatoes are easy to grow, easy to care for, and harvest in large quantities. Therefore, many gardeners love to grow this plant every year for food.
During the process of growing potatoes, you may encounter some basic problems with care and harvesting. However, one of the questions that you may often ask about potatoes is constantly spilling on the ground.
My potato plants are falling over. Why is this happening and how to fix it? Is the potato spilled from being too tall or pests or whatever? Let us continue to answer these questions in the article below.
My Potato Plants Are Falling Over – Mature Potatoes
As you know, potatoes are quite fragile plants and can be knocked over or tilted in the face of wind and heavy rain. Spilled potatoes can be related to many problems such as natural mechanisms or negative effects of weather.
One of the most common causes of spilled potatoes is that they are mature and ready to harvest. When it’s time to harvest, the tubers have appeared below the ground, and the stem above the ground will begin to fall.
Meanwhile, the leaves and buds of the potato will turn yellow, wilt, and begin to fall off. This is a completely natural process when nutrients have concentrated all the nourishment of the potato tuber under the soil. So the leaves and stem have done their job and it is time to wilt and die.
To determine if your potatoes are mature, you need to determine the harvest time of each potato variety. Typically, you can harvest potatoes from 75 days (2.5 months) to 160 days (more than 5 months).
To determine the time to harvest you just need to check the information about planting time, height, and harvest time on the manufacturer’s packaging. The height of each potato is also different so it will fall at different times.
At maturity, the height of the potato is about 12 inches to 45 inches. Most potato varieties will fall when they reach 18 to 24 inches in height. It is a fact that you should not cut off the top of a potato when it is too tall or trimmed. This is not necessary because it will reduce potato tuber production below ground.
If you find your potatoes are showing signs of yellowing and falling off at the expected harvest time, this is completely normal. You can also try digging a root to see the size of the potato in the ground and determine the right time to harvest.
Potatoes Poured When Immature
If your potatoes suddenly fall and the harvest time is very long, you need to consider some problems related to pests or ways of care. It is an early warning sign that if you don’t handle it, you may not be able to harvest any potatoes.
Some of the basic causes of immature potatoes falling include too much watering, too much fertilizer, pests, or extreme temperatures. Let’s find out more information about each cause below.
Potatoes Are Too Tall Due To Too Much Fertilizer
If your potato plants are overgrown due to the heavy application of special fertilizers with high nitrogen content, they are very likely to fall to the ground. Too much fertilizer causes potatoes to focus on growing in height and leaves and forget about the task of producing tubers in the ground.
Therefore, when the tops are too high, the leaves are too numerous that the stem cannot support them and have to fall to the ground while the harvest time is many days. To overcome this situation, you can raise soil at the base to prevent the trunks from falling to the ground and getting wet. In addition, use bamboo or wooden stakes to support and limit fertilizing shortly.
Extreme Temperatures With Potatoes
Extreme temperatures will also cause potato plants to fall to the ground when they are immature. This problem can often occur when you grow them in a container rather than in the ground.
As you know, the potato is a plant that likes low temperatures and cannot survive when the temperature is too high. The ideal temperature for growing potatoes is between 45 and 50 degrees F (7 to 10 degrees). Therefore, potato tubers will not be able to form if the soil temperature is above 80 degrees F (27 degrees C or warmer).
Besides, potatoes can’t stand the temperature too low. They will collapse to the ground if the temperature is below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). So, if the temperature is too cold, you need to use a cover, cover with straw, or light a lamp to keep the potatoes warm.
Too much water or too little water can also cause potatoes to fall to the ground. Over-watering will cause the soil to become waterlogged, and the roots will transport too much water to the leaves and stems. The stem of the potato is not as hard as other plants, so when there is too much water, the stem will become soft and fall to the ground.
Eventually, the roots will rot, and the entire trunk is devoid of nutrients as well as waterlogged, which will cause them to collapse and be serious damage. Besides, watering too little will cause potatoes to curl leaves, yellow, or show signs of wilting, which will also fall to the ground.
When potatoes lack water, leaves and stems cannot continue to survive due to dehydration of the cells, so they will wilt and dry out.
Some principles of watering potatoes you need to pay attention to below:
- Water only when the soil is a few inches dry after checking with your finger
- Do not water according to the schedule but should depend on the actual situation of rainfall and temperature
- Deep watering with a large amount is better than watering regularly but with a small amount of water
- Water only in the morning or afternoon. Do not water at night because dampness will cause fungus and pests to attack
- Do not wet the leaves because the shavings from the fungus will favorably grow in a moist leaf environment
Leaf Blight And Late Blight
Potatoes are often susceptible to many diseases related to blight and late blight. Potato blight is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. This fungus commonly spreads fungal spores in wind, and human contact, and spread from different trees.
Leaf blight usually thrives in humid environments. In particular, it spreads strongly after prolonged rains. This fungus can survive in the soil throughout the winter and repopulate when spring arrives.
Leaf blight will cause the leaves of potato plants to have brown spots and yellow rings on the outside of the spots. From there, they will attack the leaves and stems and cause the potato to fall to the ground.
Choose potato varieties that are clean and germ-free from young plants to plant because they will spread quickly and destroy your entire potato garden.
In addition, another common potato disease is late blight caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans. This type of disease is likely to spread faster than blight. If you do not detect and treat it early, late blight will destroy your entire potato growing area.
Late blight often produces black spots on the leaves and stems of potatoes. Phytophthora infestans cannot survive independently in the soil, but they can hide in diseased potatoes from the previous crop. This disease spreads quickly in wet weather at cool temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees F (16 to 21 degrees C).
Currently, late blight has no specific treatment, so you need to observe and remove plants showing signs of disease early to avoid spreading. In particular, these diseases are also easily spread to tomatoes if you plant them close together.
Besides blight and late blight, potato plants are also susceptible to two other diseases such as Fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. It is best to buy potato varieties that are resistant to this disease on the package with the symbol F or V. It is the symbol to inform the resistance of that potato variety.
Insects Attack Potatoes
One of the other common causes of your potatoes falling is a pest attack. The two insects that cause the most damage to potatoes are the Colorado potato beetle and worm.
Worms can chew on and destroy whole underground potatoes as well as stems. If the potato stalks are severed in the ground, you’ll likely find these worms nearby.
Another common insect is the Colorado potato beetle. This beetle has an orange or yellow body with black stripes on its back. They range in length from ¼ inch to ½ inch. Contrary to the size of the body, a Colorado beetle can lay up to 500 eggs within 5 weeks. These eggs usually appear on the underside of potato leaves.
This beetle is also a dangerous culprit causing leaf drops and stem breakage in potatoes. These bugs are relatively difficult to eradicate as they have evolved to be resistant to many pesticides on the market today.
To prevent this bug, you should rotate different plants to kill them. Alternatively, use other methods as natural predators prefer Colorado beetles.
The phenomenon of potato shedding is divided into two main types, mature and immature. If your potatoes spill when they’re mature, this is completely normal. Leaves and stems will wilt and fall off so that the roots can focus on nurturing the tubers underground.
Before planting, you should check the seed information about the harvest time to determine if the potatoes are mature. If your potatoes are immature and harvest time is far away, you should check some of the underlying causes such as improper watering, too much fertilizer, extreme temperatures, diseases, and insect attacks.
Watch and spot diseases and insects early or you could lose a whole potato crop.