Red Norland Potatoes (planting, growing, and harvesting)

Red Norland potatoes are a popular home crop. Both my neighbor and I grow them and we probably always will.

What are Red Norland Potatoes Good For?

Red Norland potatoes are one of the most popular potatoes for mashing or for boiled potatoes. They are the most popular red potato and are often harvested young as new potatoes. They have a sweeter, soft, smooth flesh that tends to fall apart when fried. They’re also one of the most popular garden potatoes.

Red Norland potatoes gained popularity decades ago as one of the first red-skinned potatoes that held their color after cooking. Red potatoes tend to have a higher specific gravity than other color potatoes because they have more water in them, making them softer and creamier.

All varieties of Norland potatoes are decent yielding with meduim-sized, soft, round potatoes. The Red Norland was selectively bred with all those great things, and to look more appetizing than other potatoes after being cooked.

I recently sold my Red Norland potatoes at the Howard City Farmer’s Market. They sold very well too.

How Big do Red Norlands Get?

The average size range of Red Norlands is 4-8 ounces or 3-4 inches in diameter. They can get up to 13 ounces, but most are smaller. They are consistently round in shape and have medium-depth eyes. The plants grow a few feet wide, and up to 2 feet tall.

I just dug up a few rows of Red Norlands. I was impressed, for the most part, with the size and quality of the potatoes. There was one bad row (I planted it too close to another crop). The rows that weren’t stricken with poor garden planning averaged around 5 pounds of potatoes per plant.

I got one whopper potato per healthy plant. Those were 10-13 ounces, but still smooth and delicious. There were also a number of little midget potatoes. There always are. Overall, I’m very pleased with the harvest and will definitely save some to plant next spring.

To grow good potatoes, you need good fertilizer. Check out this article on garden fertilizers.

How Long Does it Take for Red Norlands to Mature?

Red Norlands usually take about 90 days to reach maturity in late spring. If planted early, they can take over 120 days, but will still be ready to harvest early. They are a medium-season potato and one of the earliest of the higher-yielding varieties.

I like to plant them in March and May, so I can get two harvests before August. My longer-season potatoes are ready in August and September. The Red Norlands are always a fast-growing and easy-to-please variety. They’re a determinate variety, which is why they mature quickly and die off suddenly.

They are not very heat tolerant. Heat greatly limits the tuber size, and can cause the plant to die off prematurely. They like at least 2 weeks of cool weather, in the 40s, at the start of the growing season. cool weather, at least at night, is essential for good-sized potatoes.

When to Plant Red Norland Potatoes

For the most efficient growth, plant a month before the average last frost date for your area. That’s generally between March and May. Red Norland is a watery potato and is slightly more susceptible to freeze damage than firmer varieties, but can still be planted fairly early with no concern.

They can even be planted late in the fall and overwintered. This gives an extra-early crop mid-spring, but you will probably lose some to freeze and wet-rot in the soil. Here in west Michigan, I like to plant them in March or April. You can plant them just as you would any potato and do alright come harvest time.

These were harvested almost exactly 90 days after planting.

When to Harvest Red Norland Potatoes

Harvest Red Norlands about 60 days after emergence, or a month after blossoming. Wait until the vines have started browning and dying back for large, mature spuds, or any time after blossoming for new potatoes. With normal planting times, they are usually harvested early to mid-July.

They are considered a 90-day potato, but that easily varies by a week or two in neither direction. Stress from heat, drought, disease, or pests can cause the plant to enter the maturity stage early, before the tubers are full-grown. Prolonged cool or overcast weather slows the maturity, letting plants live longer.

Red Norland vs Red Pontiac

Red Pontiac potatoes are higher-yielding and longer season than Red Norland. They are also firmer and thicker skinned when mature. Red Norland is a sweeter, smoother, faster-growing potato that in my opinion tastes better. Red Pontiac is better for fried potatoes but Red Norland is better mashed.

Red Norland is resistant to potato scab and to common potato viruses, but it’s more sensitive to drought. Red Pontiac usually does better (higher yield) in drier or warmer conditions. That’s why a lot of gardeners report poor yields with Norlands compared to Pontiacs.

Red Pontiac is an indeterminate variety of potato. That means the plant will live longer if you can keep it comfortable and stress-free, and it will grow more potatoes if you hill the plants. Hilling is simply hoeing dirt from between the rows to bury a few inches of the plant’s stem.

If you can keep an indeterminate plant living longer, it will grow more potatoes as long as it has more dirt. Buried portions of the stem will create new roots and start growing additional tubers if you supply the plant with enough nutrients.

ColorDays to maturityAverage size*Yield per plantFlavor/texture
Red Norlandvibrant red905 ounces5 poundssweet/smooth
Red Pontiacdeep, dark red1004 ounces6 poundsdeep/smooth.
*average high yield

Planting and Growing Tips for Red Norland Potatoes

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I practice what I preach. Here in rural west Michigan, me, my wife, and 5 young kids work together to grow food, raise animals, and grow aninmal feed on just 1 acre. I teach homesteading classes locally, and help people where I can.

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