How many months does kumara need to stay in the ground before harvest?

I planted kumara slips in November 2011and I've just been out to dig up a few to see if they are ready and they are still very small.  Every so often, I've been pulling the vines back so they don't wander in the paddock.   Does anyone know how long kumara needs to stay in the ground before harvesting?  Does the foliage need to die back like potatoes?   So want to get it right this time around. :O)  There has been a lot of rain off & on in the last few months which may have something to do with the growing stage.  Anyone?

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Hi there, from experience I would wait at least another month before checking them again.  Generally kumara take around 5 months, sometimes slightly less if the growing conditions are good.  I planted mine in Nov 2011 as well, and the tops are still growing very strongly - I'm not planning on even thinking about harvesting them until at least april.  As for the tops - they have never died down for me before (unlike potatoes), I guess they sort of just look like they have stopped growing anymore.  I always just go along with a pair of secateurs and chop the tops off near the base, dig the kumara, then when I've finished the whole row I throw the tops back over the soil to break down (adding the nutrients back to the soil).  I lay the kumara out to dry/cure in the sun for a couple of days as this brings out the natural sugars.  Hope this info is useful in someway :)  Cheers, Kate

I'd agree with April/May.

Another reason for small tubers can be loose soil - kumera seem to like heavy clayey soils, and if there isn't constriction on the roots, the tops are extremely vigorous but the tubers don't form. Here in Taranaki I've grown them in tyres with moderate success.

Interesting Richard, although I'm not sure about the heavy clay soils - in my experience this type of soil tends to cause virus/fungal infections which show up on the skin of the kumara.  they generally prefer good free-draining soil with a harder pan of clay or heavy soil underneath.  Cheers, Kate

Well, that is definately interesting thanks guys, as I have clay with a very hard silica pan underneath.  This time round though, I had put a bag of horse poo on the top for several months before growing the slips.  The soil felt so loose & wonderful by the time I planted them that I was sure it would work this time.  I didn't take into account the nitrogen which I suppose is why the tops are flourishing.  I will leave them until end of April/May as suggested.  And I will cut them back like you've said thanks Kate. :O)

Im really interested in this discussion, this being my first attempt at growing kumara too.  Will be interested to hear how yours have gotten on Jane!

ditto Ruth.  The tops of ours have gone mad.. hope there are tubers below.

yes, Im thinking mine have too...Ive filled up a compost bin with horse manure and peastraw and popped them in there...from what Ive read they like to be in a looser soil, on top of a hard clay soil...but apparently they do better in naturally sand soils? 

There will be tubers, as I have the same experience.  You can actually cook the tops if you like.  Just use the younger leaves - saute with lots of garlic, tomatoes, salt and a bit of water. Cook quickly just like other asian greens. Or steam on top of rice before water dries out, add chopped onions, tomatoes as a side dish with fried fish. 

well I can tell you I have dug down and have three lovely big kumara so far, am going to dig them all up very soon and shall post a photo!  Feeling rather pleased!

Great to hear how you used the horse manure to break down the clay soil Jane.  I am sure you will get something out from under them - just don't be put off if some of them have dark mottling on the skin - mine were like that the first year I ever grew them, but they were still really good to eat, with the insides being perfectly fine.  Anyway, I added sand and compost to my patchseveral months before planting, no manure - Ruth is right about them needing naturally sandy soils (hence why they grow so well up north), so I do my best to imitate that.  Shell grit or anything 'coastal' can be added - maybe seaweed instead of farm manures.  Best thing is to keep building the right soil structure and every year should get better.  Oh, and the tops are meant to go mad - they are a vine so have  tendancy to take over everything in their path - except for the bush-type ones, they are a little more "reserved"!!

That's very impressive Ruth,  I also dug down in my kumara patch today and came up quite dissapointed for the 2nd time in a row.  Pretty much all of the kumara were small and had a white powdery like consistency to it.  I put this down to  a very wet summer.   Well, there's always next year.....lets see if I will have better luck in year 3!


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