Potatoes are classified according to the length of time they take to mature, but this can be influenced by weather. First early potatoes mature in 60-110 days. Planted towards the end of March, they are ready for lifting from late June or early July. Potatoes can be planted from mid March onwards as a rough guide dependent on weather.
Compared to maincrop potatoes, first and second earlies are lower yielding, usually have smaller tubers, need less space and as they are lifted earlier in the year, they are less likely to encounter pest problems and escape some of the diseases, such as blight.
They are generally eaten as soon as harvested – enjoyed as ‘new potatoes’ – while maincrop cultivars can either be used fresh from the ground or stored for winter use in hessian sacks.
First earlies are dug up in time to allow you to plant something else in the ground after they are harvested.
Some varieties such as Rocket and Swift are able to produce a crop faster than other varieties of first earlies.