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When to Plant Potatoes in Iowa

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Planting potatoes at the right time is essential to obtain an abundant and quality crop. Potatoes are a crop that grows well in cold climates but does not tolerate frost. In this article, I will explain the different regions of Iowa for planting potatoes at the right time. Continue reading to find out when to plant potatoes in Iowa.

When to Plant Potatoes in Iowa

Potatoes in Iowa should be planted in the spring, but dates will vary somewhat depending on the region of Iowa where you want to grow potatoes. In southern Iowa, potatoes should be planted in late March or early April.

In central Iowa, potatoes should be planted from early April to mid-April. Finally, in northern Iowa, potatoes should be planted in mid to late April. Potato plants do not tolerate frost, doing best when soil temperatures are above 50 °F (10 °C).

To be sure of the best time to plant potatoes in Iowa, it is best to check the frost calendar. You can check the frost calendar with the local forecast. Below is a table of average frost dates for the year 2024 in different cities in Iowa.

CityLast Spring FrostFirst Fall FrostGrowing Season
Des Moines24-Apr14-Oct172 days
Iowa City28-Apr13-Oct167 days
Sioux City4-May1-Oct149 days
Davenport22-Apr20-Oct180 days
Cedar Rapids3-May5-Oct154 days

As you will observe in the table the dates of the last frost vary from city to city and that is why I recommend checking the frost calendar to know the exact date of the last frost for your city or region. Therefore, the best time to plant potatoes in Iowa is in the spring, but dates will vary somewhat by region.

Planting Potatoes in Iowa

Other very important factors for planting potatoes in Iowa are the soil and irrigation of the potato plant. Inadequate watering and irrigation can affect the quality of the potatoes, so it is not only the time of planting potatoes that must be considered. Below are some tips for planting potatoes in Iowa.

Soil

Potatoes need soil rich in organic matter and with good drainage to develop properly. A poorly drained soil can lead to the appearance of diseases in the potato plant. Add compost or organic matter to the soil to improve nutrients and soil drainage.

As for soil pH, potatoes can grow in a wide range from 5 to 6.8. I recommend measuring the soil pH before you start planting potatoes to make sure the pH is within these parameters. For more information, I recommend reading our article on how to measure soil pH.

With a suitable substrate, potatoes will develop properly and will be less likely to suffer from pests and diseases.

soil for potatoes in iowa
When to Plant Potatoes in Iowa? Spring is a good time to plant potatoes in Iowa, but dates will vary somewhat by region of the state.

Watering

Adequate watering of the potato plant is essential for potatoes to develop properly. Lack of water in the potato plant will result in small and misshapen potatoes. But overwatering is also bad for the plant.

Never let the soil become waterlogged, just water and allow the water to drain. Overwatering can lead to diseases such as root rot. Use mulch around the potato plant to promote moisture retention.

Additionally, for more effective irrigation of potato plants, you can use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. These irrigation systems are inexpensive and allow for proper watering of all types of plants.

Tips for Growing Potatoes in Iowa

Some potato varieties grow best in Iowa. According to the University of Iowa, these are the best potato varieties for Iowa:

  • Red Pontiac
  • Kennebec
  • Katahdin
  • Goldrush
  • Superior
  • Yukon Gold
  • Russet Norkotah
  • Red Norland

Quality seed potatoes should always be used to ensure that they are disease free and have a high germination rate.

Prepare the soil: Potatoes prefer well-drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic pH. Before planting, work in plenty of compost or aged manure to improve the soil’s texture and fertility.

Plant at the right time: Potatoes should be planted in the early spring, as soon as the soil has warmed up enough to work. In Iowa, this is usually in late March or early April.

Use certified seed potatoes: Plant certified seed potatoes, which are disease-free and guaranteed to produce a healthy crop.

Keep them well-watered: Potatoes need consistent moisture throughout the growing season. Water regularly, especially during dry spells.

Control pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for pests like potato beetles and diseases like late blight, which can quickly destroy a potato crop.

By following these tips, you can grow a healthy crop of potatoes in Iowa.

tips for growing potatoes in iowa
Tips for Growing Potatoes in Iowa.

Final Conclusions

It is important to know the time of the last frost to know when to plant potatoes in Iowa. Remember to check the frost calendar with your local forecast. Potato planting time in Iowa will vary somewhat by region.

By following these tips, you will be able to properly plant potatoes in Iowa. After a while, you will be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest. I hope this article will be helpful. I recommend you to read our article about when are potatoes ready to harvest.


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About Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan is an agronomist horticulture founder of The Garden Style Company and The Garden Style Website. He previously worked for Mondelēz International as an Agronomist Engineer specializing in agricultural products management in highly populated areas. In 2000, Henry started working with farmer-producers in agricultural businesses selling wholesale fresh produce and retail plants in Van Buren, Arkansas. Nowadays, Henry lives in California, where he offers expert consulting services for organic vegetable gardening. As a science writer working with his wife, Julia, Henry shares his passion for gardening and farming, trying to reach and teach as many folks as possible.

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