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North Carolina farmers produce early-crop or summer-harvested potatoes. These quality potatoes are on the market during June and July. The “new” potatoes from North Carolina are truly fresh because they are not stored like many “old” potatoes from other states.
Round whites have a smooth, light tan skin and waxy texture. They’re grown and used most often in the Eastern U.S. Their firm texture holds it shape after cooking, making them ideal for salads, roasted, mashed and steamed preparations.
Round reds have a rosy red skin with white flesh. Their firm, waxy texture lends well to potato salads, roasting, boiling and frying. A smaller version sometimes referred to as baby reds or creamers can be cooked in almost any way.
Yukon gold or yellow flesh potatoes are very popular in Europe and quickly gaining popularity in the United States. Sometimes referred to as a gourmet potato, this variety has a creamy texture and mild buttery flavor that is great for baking, mashing, and roasting.
Eat potatoes with the peel on...you’ll not only save time, but you’ll add extra fiber, vitamins and minerals to your favorite potato dish.
Planting and Harvesting Potatoes
At planting time, which usually begins the third week of February in North Carolina's coastal plain, the seed potatoes are put through a cutting machine. The tubers are cut into seed pieces, usually dusted with a fungicide and put into V-bottom trucks that transport them to planters waiting in the fields. Seed pieces are planted about six inches deep, one every nine inches, in rows about three feet apart. Tubers do best in loose loamy soils or black and muck soils with adequate drainage and an acid pH of 5.4 on average. When the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees the seed pieces will begin to sprout. In about five weeks the first leaflets unfold above the ground. Depending on the variety, 90 - 110 days from planting are required to bear a crop.
Harvest season in North Carolina normally begins around June 5th and last through mid August. Favorable conditions to dig potatoes are when soils are dry. Potato diggers are pulled up and down the fields by tractors. The diggers have flat, pointed shovels that go beneath the potatoes to lift them out of the ground. The potatoes are carried through the digger by conveyors that consist of steel rods that let dirt fall through. Towards the back of the digger the potatoes fall through onto a side chain while the lighter vines go over the back of the digger to be left in the field. The potatoes are carried by a slightly elevated conveyor to be dumped into a V-bottom truck driving alongside the digger. The trucks transport the potatoes to a packing and grading shed where they are dumped and run through a water flume to be washed, and carried by conveyor belts to be graded. The potatoes are either loaded onto bulk trucks for transport to potato chip processing plants, or are bagged in paper mesh or poly bags and delivered to grocery chains. Potatoes grown in North Carolina are never stored. They may arrive in grocery stores within 48 hours of being dug.
Here are some Useful Potato Links:
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