The potato is one of America’s most popular vegetables. Each year, Americans eat an average of 125 pounds of potatoes per person.
Florida potato growers produce in many locations on the peninsula from the outskirts of the Everglades to the coastal regions in the south, near Lake Okeechobee, and south of Orlando in the central part of the state, to the St. Augustine area in the northern part of the state. Each growing area has unique soil properties and growing periods, and each produces high quality potatoes for the fresh market.
The first Florida potatoes are planted beginning in early October in South Florida and will continue to be planted until Late February or early March in North Florida. Potatoes generally have a 90-day growing cycle which means the harvest period is from late January through June.
Potatoes have an interesting life cycle, beginning with the eyes of the potato growing sprouts that emerge from the soil. Within 30 to 55 days the plant will begin to root, develop stems, and photosynthesize. In this time period, the plant will store nutrients in tubers. In approximately 15 more days, more tubers will begin to form underground and the plant will quickly uptake more and more nutrients. In the next 50 days after the tubers have formed underground, they will begin to enlarge and produce sugars and starches. Once the tubers are fully mature, the plant will dry out and die. All the nutrients from the plant are transferred to the tubers which will help the skin harden and become what is known as a potato.
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