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Determinate vs indeterminate potatoes

Determinate Vs Indeterminate Potatoes: What’s The Difference?

Do you that like tomatoes, potatoes also have two ways of growing, determinate and indeterminate? Reading about determinate vs indeterminate potatoes, you will know about their differences, how to grow both varieties, and ultimately choose the right one for you.

The primary difference between the two potato varieties is that:

  •  Determinate potatoes are early-season potatoes
  • Indeterminate ones are late-season potatoes

The other common difference when talking about determinate vs indeterminate potatoes is that determinate potatoes grow in single layers and are much smaller than indeterminate ones. Whereas, the indeterminate potatoes grow in multiple layers and are usually thicker and heavier than the determinate ones.

How long do the different varieties of potatoes take to mature?

That depends on the variety of potatoes you are growing for determinate vs indeterminate potatoes:

  • Truly determinate: Less than 70 days
  • Slightly determinate: 70-85 days
  •  Midseason: 85-100 days
  • Slightly indeterminate: 100-135 days
  • Truly indeterminate: more than 135 days

What are the growing conditions for potatoes?

What are the growing conditions for potatoes

The right growing conditions for growing potatoes are:

  • A warm temperature, about 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal
  • Rich soil, which is 5-8 inches deep
  • At least 6 hours of sunlight every day
  • Adequate water, almost 2 inches of water each week

Compost works best, but you don’t need to add any artificial chemicals, fertilizers, or insecticides.

Growing tips for determinate vs indeterminate potatoes

Determinate potato varieties are relatively new and people have started growing them for just the past hundred years. The main characteristics and growing tips of determinate potatoes are:

  • These produce a yield in the early season
  • The plants grow to about 1 meter or 3 feet tall
  • The stem produces flowers at the end and then stops growing, this makes the determinate plants much shorter
  • There are fewer flower clusters
  • There is a single yield of potatoes and it is for a short time

People grow determinate potatoes because they produce shorter maturation and produce the yield earlier.

The indeterminate potatoes have been growing for a long time. Let’s discuss the characteristics of this type of potato.

  •  Most late-season potatoes are indeterminate as they have a long maturation time
  •  They produce flowers for a long time and there are new berries all the time
  • Yield is higher and potatoes are larger
  • The stem produces lateral stems and flowers develop in them. The stem keeps growing and produces more laterals

These potato plants grow very long and sprawling, so the potato plants of indeterminate varieties are often called vines.

plants grow very long and sprawling

Why is it important to know the difference between determinate vs indeterminate potatoes?

Potatoes grow from a seed potato that is the eye-containing part of the potato and grows to become a vine. As the vine grows, thick roots develop and form the tubers, which are delicious potatoes. The growth of potatoes is different for both determinate and indeterminate types. The most difficult part of growing potatoes is to determine whether it is determinate or indeterminate. Let’s discuss them in a bit of detail to know the significant differences between determinate vs indeterminate potatoes.

What are determinate potatoes?

If a gardener has lesser space, growing determinate potatoes is the right type of potato for them as they can be planted in just 4 inches of soil. They grow fast and produce a yield early, after 70 to 90 days and produce delicious, nutritious, and healthy potatoes. All of the tubers grow in a single layer, so you don’t have to add more soil to the top to produce a bigger yield.

What are indeterminate potatoes?

indeterminate potatoes

These are slow growing as compared to the determinate ones and fully stop between 80 to 120 days. They produce a high yield so they are suitable for bag growing. The tubers are produced around the soil depth and you need to mound layers of soil to produce additional layers of fresh potatoes, giving a large harvest when the season ends.

You should know about the bag-growing process to understand how to grow an indeterminate potato variety. When starting, the tubers are covered in 4 inches of loose soil and they grow undisturbed till they become 6 inches tall. Then soil, dead leaves, and straw are used to cover the plant, leaving only the top 2 inches of the plant exposed from the top of the mound. Whenever tubers are seen emerging on the surface, this process is repeated, thus producing more and more layers of potatoes.

If you don’t know the right way to grow indeterminate potatoes, then try using a box, bag, or tower that helps to keep a record of the potatoes. You can add another layer of soil to enjoy the harvest. This type of growing potatoes produces a healthy yield of potatoes and they grow up rather than out.

Which potatoes should I grow if I am a beginner?

Let’s give you an answer to which variety of determinate vs indeterminate potatoes you should grow. Potatoes are a very easy and simple crop to grow, but most gardeners find that determinate potato varieties need lesser care when they can care for them properly, and then they gain the necessary equipment and experience to keep the indeterminate potatoes happy and grow healthily.

People who have small yards should grow determinate potatoes and they can be planted in just 4 inches of soil. Plus, they yield a smaller crop so it is easier to manage the crop and it won’t be left growing badly in the yard when the growing season ends.  

You should also know how fast you need the harvest to find the right variety for growing.  If you need an early harvest, then determinate potato varieties are better. But to get the advantage of a long growing season, and you need heavier potatoes, then indeterminate potatoes are better.

What are some determinate potato varieties?

Determinate potatoes have fewer types as compared to indeterminate ones. This is because humans always want to produce a bigger yield and indeterminate potatoes produce high yield, so they are used to make the high-demand potato chips. The most popular among the determinate potato types (Early season) are:

  • Adirondack Blue
  • Adirondack Red
  • Caribe
  • Chieftain
  • Gold Rush
  • Norland
  • Ratte Potatoes
  • Red Norland
  • Russet Norkotah
  • Sierra Gold
  • Sierra Rose
  • Yukon Gold

These potatoes are delicious as any other, but the overall starchiness and flavor may vary. The Ratte potatoes are small and finicky and are considered more of a delicacy, whereas, Yukon Gold makes amazing mashed potatoes. If you are growing tubers for home use, then research their taste and consistency before you start growing. Here are some midseason potatoes:

  • Chieftan Potatoes
  • Red Pontiac Potatoes
  • Viking Potatoes

What are some indeterminate potato varieties?

Farmers, companies, and genuine gardeners all love indeterminate potatoes as they produce tons of edible tubers and can grow upwards. All different varieties of indeterminate potatoes have varying tastes and textures, so research the variety and then start growing. Some delicious and common varieties of indeterminate potatoes (late season) are:

  • Alturas
  • Bintje
  • Butte
  • Canela Russet 
  • Century Russet
  • Desiree
  • Elba
  • German Butterball
  • German Butterball 
  • Green Mountain 
  • Katahdin
  • Lehigh
  • Maris Piper 
  • Ranger Russet
  • Red Cloud
  • Red Maria
  • Red Pontiac 
  • Russet Burbank
  • Russet Nugget
  • Strawberry Paw 

Some of these types may grow better in warm or cool climates. So, before you start growing, determine which indeterminate potato variety grows well in your region.

What are some indeterminate potato varieties

Do we grow indeterminate potatoes underground?

A lot of people are confused as to whether all types of potatoes grow underground, even the indeterminate ones too. The simple answer is yes, determinate and indeterminate both types of potatoes grow underground. The potato plants have a small beautiful tree above the soil.  But the potato tuber is almost 8-12 feet deep in the soil and develops around the original potato seed.

Both types of potatoes love to grow in moist and nutrient-rich soil, almost 6-10 inches deep. The reason they must grow underground is that they may develop a potentially deadly alkaloid called solanine when they are grown in intense direct sunlight. This is the reason why we grow potatoes almost 5-6 inches deep in the start and add fresh layers of soil on top of the potatoes as they grow big undergrounds so that they stay safe from direct sunlight.

Should I use grow bags for indeterminate potatoes?

grow bags for indeterminate potatoes

Determinate potatoes grow fast and produce tubers just above the soil depth you plant your seed in. Whereas, indeterminate potatoes grow slowly and form potato tubers all the way on the stem where there is soil. These are the reasons why they should have bag growing so you can save the yield after all the effort you put in.

What are some determinate vs indeterminate potatoes pests?

determinate vs indeterminate potatoes pests

There are many garden pests that eagerly gnaw at the stalks of your potatoes, so be careful. Potato beetle is a famous and dreadful potato pest that attacks the early season potatoes or determinate ones. There is also a cruel hornworm that chops away both tomatoes and potatoes. To protect your potatoes from both of these, you need to scan your plants manually. If you have a few potato containers or potato bags, then you can easily look for potato beetles.  Inspect your vines from time to time to see any signs of nasty crawlers. Remove the beetles when you spot them and toss them into a jug of water, you can also add some dish soap to the water to kill the beetles. It is better to avoid chemical sprays and pesticides as they can not only harm your spuds, but the potato beetles are resistant to pesticides.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are determinate and indeterminate potatoes?

Determinate potatoes are a type of potato plant that typically grows to a specific height and produces a finite number of tubers, or potatoes. Indeterminate potatoes, on the other hand, continue to grow and produce tubers throughout the growing season, and can continue to produce new tubers even after the plant has been harvested.

What are the advantages of growing determinate vs indeterminate potatoes?

The advantage of growing determinate potatoes is that they tend to mature earlier than indeterminate varieties, making them a good choice for areas with shorter growing seasons. Additionally, since determinate potatoes produce a finite number of tubers, they can be harvested all at once, making them easier to manage. Indeterminate potatoes, on the other hand, can produce a higher yield of potatoes over a longer growing season, making them a good choice for areas with longer growing seasons. However, indeterminate potatoes require more management and attention to avoid overgrowth and disease.

What are some common examples of determinate and indeterminate potato varieties?

Some common examples of determinate potato varieties include Yukon Gold, Red Norland, and Red Pontiac. These varieties typically grow to a specific height and produce a finite number of tubers. Some common examples of indeterminate potato varieties include Russet Burbank, Kennebec, and Fingerling. These varieties continue to grow and produce tubers throughout the growing season.

How do I determine whether I should grow determinate or indeterminate potatoes?

The decision of whether to grow determinate or indeterminate potatoes will depend on several factors, including your climate, growing season, and desired yield. If you have a shorter growing season, or if you prefer to harvest all of your potatoes at once, determinate potatoes may be a better choice. If you have a longer growing season, or if you want to maximize your yield over a longer period, indeterminate potatoes may be a better choice. Additionally, you should consider factors such as disease resistance, soil type, and available space when choosing which potato variety to grow.

Can I grow both determinate and indeterminate potatoes in the same garden?

Yes, it is possible to grow both determinate and indeterminate potatoes in the same garden, as long as you have enough space and the appropriate growing conditions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that determinate and indeterminate potatoes have different growth habits and may require different management techniques. You should also take care to avoid planting different potato varieties too close together, as this can increase the risk of disease and pest problems.


It can be frustrating to determine whether a potato is determinate or indeterminate, but we have listed the characteristics of both varieties to make the differences clear for you. Now, you can grow the right type of potatoes in your garden without wondering about determinate vs indeterminate potatoes and after a big day of harvest, you can enjoy French fries, baked potatoes, purees, chips, and other potato deliciousness.