I planted some potatoes about 10 - 14 weeks ago. They have tall strong tops. Only a few small buds/flowers appear, then drop off. They have been well watered every day.
Should we start to harvest now? What if no flowers appear?
Typically you harvest potatoes once the green stuff has at least started to dry up and wilt, for early types at a "greener" stage, later types when the green tops have completely turned yellow and dried.
How long it takes until the potatoes are ready to be harvested depends a lot on the type you planted. Super-early kinds may be ready after as little as 100-110 days and might be dug up when the leaves are still quite green, but these potatoes have to be used immediately. The other end of the scale are the winter storage types that need up to 170 days and are ready in late September or even early October. And there are lots of breeds in between. You need to check for your chosen type. If in doubt, wait until the green has dried out.
The flowers and fruit have little to nothig to do with the formation of the tubers. Your potato plants use the green leaves to gather the energy to form the potatoes. In short, we eat the storage organs of the plants, using the energy originally stored for the next generation of potatoes.
I am just adding to Stephie's answer. Yes you mostly certainly can pull out little potatoes also called 'new' potatoes. Yummmm.
Definitely wait to harvest harvest potatoes after the tops have flowered and will soon start dying. This happens so quickly with potatoes. Only problem is you are forbidden (grins) to plant potatoes/tomatoes/eggplant/ or any other plants within the Solanaceae family in the same soil for two years minimum. That is why I plant these guys in pots, in potting soil to enlarge my garden area. Starting small...gradually increasing pot size to end at at least a 5 gallon to 10 gallon pot.
Potatoes need an acidic soil...do you know the pH of your soil? Are you fertilizing? Adding organic matter? Did you know that potatoes are easily grown in a vertical format to save room and get larger potatoes? Did you start with verified seed potatoes? Potatoes are my absolute favorite 'vegetable' to grow.