Initially grown by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) in Maine, Kennebec potatoes are a gourmet potato variety known for their white flesh and smooth pale-brown skin.

Their fluffy texture makes them suitable for multiple purposes like boiling, baking, stewing, or even frying. This variety of potatoes is also relatively resistant to several common potato diseases, thus making them easier to grow for beginner farmers.

What is a Kennebec Potato?

Kennebec is a fast-growing variety of multi-purpose potato. Distinguishable by their smooth, waxy, thin, brown skin with white flesh inside and a slightly lumpy surface. Their starch content is high, with minimal water content. The potatoes are typically medium to large and have a rich and slightly earthy flavor.

Kennebec Potato Care

Growing Kennebec potatoes is easy. In the case of looking after these potato plants, there are a few elements that you need to take care of.  As with any plant they have basic needs and these are especially easy to look after!

– Water Requirements

While watering your potatoes, the basic key is to keep the soil constantly moist, rather than wet or muddy. These potatoes require watering at least once a week, however, they may require more water in hot or dry periods. Water the plants until the soil is completely saturated to ensure thorough watering and healthy growth of the potatoes.

You can use various methods to water Kennebec potatoes. A viable method is to either use a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose to distribute water to the plants evenly. This system is also easy to set aside while hilling up the plants.

Other than this, you can also use a garden hose to water your plants with a gentle spray setting. It is essential to soak the ground around the plants evenly. When you are done watering, you need to allow the soil to drain completely to prevent the roots from getting waterlogged.

– Light Requirements

To grow these potatoes, you will need to plant them in an area that receives full sun, preferably an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight every day. They can easily grow and develop by getting direct sunlight every day. However, it is better to provide some shade on extremely hot days to avoid the burning of leaves.

– Soil Requirements

For healthy growth and a high Kennebec potato yield, well-drained and sandy loam soils are required, preferably those that have high organic matter. This variety can adapt to different types of soils, although they do prefer slightly acidic soil pH in the range of 5.5 to 6.5. Have your soil tested by your local coop extension office if you are unsure about the pH. You can also test it at home, but not as precisely.

– Temperature Requirements

Kennebec potatoes are typically grown in areas with mild winters with little frosts, in late fall or early spring. An ideal temperature range for the optimal growth of these potatoes is 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature drops too low, the potatoes might not develop properly and even die. Similarly, extremely hot temperatures might also cause damage to the plant by inhibiting tuber formation.

– Humidity Requirements

When it comes to growing these potatoes, the humidity requirements are not too different from other types of potatoes. This variety of potatoes has adapted to growth in areas with relatively high humidity. While growing these Kennebec potatoes, it is important to maintain a high relative humidity to prevent excessive loss of moisture.

– Fertilizing Requirements

While growing your potatoes, you will want to add suitable fertilizers to ensure a healthy yield. For this purpose, the best fertilizers are the ones that have relatively low nitrogen and high phosphorus and potassium.

These will help to build soil quality and also provide the plenty of nutrients needed for their optimal growth. Keep in mind to follow the manufacturer’s instructions while applying the fertilizer to not over-fertilize the plants.

 

Harvesting

Kennebec potatoes normally take approximately 90 days to mature after plantation. In general, the harvesting periods of these delicious potatoes range from late summer to early fall and bring about rich yields. Here’s how you do it:

– How to Harvest

To harvest the fully grown potatoes, all you have to do is gently dig up the entire plant and extract any excess soil from the roots. Then, use a garden fork to very carefully lift the plant up and out of the soil. Make sure not to damage any tubers in the process. If all ideal conditions were met, each plant should yield about 10–20 small to medium-sized potatoes.

– How to Store

After harvesting your potatoes, it is essential to store them properly to ensure that they remain fresh and delicious. For long-term Kennebec potatoes storage, you should store your potatoes in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated space. In a pinch a closet or pantry will work but a basement or root cellar is ideal.

You also need to make sure that the potatoes are not exposed to any light, which can cause them to turn bitter and green or can even cause rotting of the skin. Simply place the potatoes in a box or basket, and put them in a cool, dark place. Seed potatoes can be stored too.

Common Problems

If you have decided to grow potatoes, then you need to be familiar with some of the most common problems associated with their growth. These include early blight, late blight, and verticillium wilt.

The plant does not entirely have disease resistance and might need your help to thrive. Let’s look into the details of each of these problems so you can be better prepared to deal with them:

– Early Blight

Early blight is a fungal disease that can affect the leaves and yield of your potato plants. The early blight fungus infects the plant through wounds in the leaves, and that causes them to turn brown and die. If left unchecked, early blight can spread quickly and kill your entire potato crop.

– Late Blight

Late blight is another fungal disease that can affect the leaves and yield of your potato plants. Unlike early blight, late blight typically only affects the plant’s leaves. The late blight fungus infects the plant through wounds in the leaves, causing them to turn brown and die. Late blight can spread quickly and kill your entire potato crop if left unchecked.

– Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium wilt is a soil-borne, fungal wilt disease that can affect the leaves of your potato plants. Verticillium wilt disease infects the roots of the potato plants and invades the water-transporting tissues. It causes premature yellowing of the leaves and eventually the premature death of the plant. If left unchecked, Verticillium wilt can quickly spread and kill your entire potato crop.

– Fusarium Dry Rot

Fusarium dry rot is a fungal disease, mainly recognized by sinks over the infected areas and wrinkled along with internal light to dark brown or black rot. This disease spreads mostly through Kennebec seed potatoes cutting, harvesting, or grading. Any wounds opened during these processes allow the fungi to enter the tuber and spread. Thus, if left unchecked, Fusarium dry rot can easily destroy your entire potato crop.

– Common Scab

Common Scab is a widespread, soil-borne disease that affects the tuber grade quality of the potatoes. It infects them with small, brown, raised spots that eventually develop into unsightly, corky tissue. It is essential to prevent an outbreak of infection as this can reduce the yield of the potatoes.

FAQ

– What type of potato is a Kennebec?

Kennebec is a medium to a late maturing variety of white potatoes.Kennebec potatoes are waxy with thin, pale skin and smooth, dense white flesh.

– When should I plant Kennebec potatoes?

The best time to plant these potatoes is in the early to the mid-spring season as they require temperate climates such as mild winter with little frost. You will notice emerging plants about two to three weeks after plantation.

– When to harvest Kennebec potatoes?

The harvesting period of Kennebec potatoes is normally in late summer or early fall. A typical observation that tells you that the potatoes are ready to be harvested is the formation of small tubers near the soil surface. This occurs after roughly about 70 to 90 days of growth.

Conclusion

You now know everything there is to know about Kennebec potatoes and about how to grow them.

Here is a quick summary of what we have learned from this article today:

  • They were initially bred by the USDA in Maine.
  • These potatoes are known for their smooth pale brown skin and white flesh.
  • They are simple plants to look after, require temperate climates with mild winters, and do not require much maintenance.
  • This Kennebec potato variety is available from late summer through to early fall.
  • Overall, this is a wonderful, all-purpose, high-yielding variety of potato which is also relatively resistant to many common potato diseases.

So, what are you waiting for? Plant these potatoes today and enjoy a meal that you grew.

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