Potato types explained

Potato types explained

Confused by the different potato types? We explain the differences between first early, second early, salad and maincrop potatoes in this short guide.

There are three main types of potato to grow, named according to when you plant and harvest them: first earlies, second earlies and maincrop. 

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First early or ‘new’ potatoes are so-called because they are the earliest to crop, in June.

Second earlies (also called ‘new’ potatoes) are hot on their heels, taking a few more weeks to mature.

These two types are expensive in the shops and taste better when just been harvested, so many people grow these. They also take up less room and are less prone to potato blight, as they are generally harvested before the disease has taken hold.

Discover the best new potatoes to grow.

Maincrop potatoes take the longest to mature and are harvested from the end of July to September. They are suitable for baking, roasting and mashing, and can be stored for a few months.

Growing potatoes is easy – plant one seed potato, and you dig up lots of potatoes a few months later. Find out all you need to know about growing potatoes in our potato Grow Guide.

Find out when and how to plant the main potato types, below.

There are three main types of potato to grow, named according to when you plant and harvest them: first earlies, second earlies and maincrop.

First early potatoes

First early or ‘new’ potatoes are so-called because they are the earliest to crop, in June. They take 10-12 weeks to mature. Plant 30cm apart, with 60cm between rows, around 12cm deep.

Plant: March (with frost protection)
Harvest: June
Recommended varieties: ‘Red Duke of York’, ‘Lady Christl’, ‘Orla’ and ‘Rocket’.

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Second early potatoes

Second early potatoes take 14-16 weeks to mature. As with first earlies, plant them 30cm apart, in rows 60cm apart, 12cm deep.

Plant: March (with frost protection)
Harvest: June
Recommended varieties: ‘Charlotte’, ‘Maris Peer’, ‘Ratte’

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Maincrop potatoes

Maincrops take 16-22 weeks to mature. Plant 40cm deep, in rows 75cm apart, at a depth of 12cm. 

Plant: mid to late April
Harvest: late July to September
Recommended varieties: ‘Pink Fir Apple’, ‘Desiree’, ‘Cara’, ‘Maris Piper’, ‘King Edward’, ‘Sarpo Mira’

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Salad potatoes

Salad potatoes share a firm, waxy texture and many have an intense, nutty flavour, perfect with a knob of melted butter or cold in a potato salad. They are usually first earlies or second earlies. Discover the 10 best salad potatoes to grow.

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Growing potatoes in a small space

Potatoes can take up a lot of room on the veg plot but they grow brilliantly in large containers or even large bags. Find out how to grow potatoes in a pot.

A large pot