|'Early Illinois', also known as 'Early Ohio', 'Prize', and 'Royal Gem', is an heirloom variety potato introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800's. The tubers are round and vaguely apple-shaped with papery skin and pinkish patches. Some of the larger specimens of this type weight 12 ounces. Potatoes are perennials grown as annuals. They are related to eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. Potatoes need a frost free growing season of 90 to 120 days. They are a cool weather crop and grow best in areas with a cool summer. Ideal potato growing temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees F. Hot weather reduces tuber production. Traditionally, potatoes are grown in the summer in the North and during fall and winter in the South. Potatoes are grown from whole potatoes or pieces called seed. Each seed must have at least one eye. Potatoes must have well-drained, fertile soil that is higher in organic matter and having a pH between 5.0 and 5.5. Plant in full sun, 4 inches deep and 18 inches apart in rows that are 3 feet apart. Potatoes are usually planted on hills or raised rows, to allow for drainage. Fertilize again around midseason. Even moisture and a good thick layer of mulch will result in a better crop. Harvet time ranges from 75 to 130 days after planting. Dig up new potatoes after the plant blooms, or if it doesn't bloom, after the leaves start to yellow. Potatoes that are sold in grocery stores are usually dug two weeks after the vines have died in the fall.
Rotate crops to prevent pest build-up in the soil.