Digging Sweet Potatoes

With the weather forecast calling for 100% chance of rain tomorrow, and a possibility of light frost later in the week, I decided today was the day to dig sweet potatoes. With the temperature around 70F it was great to get out and enjoy some sunshine while it lasts.

Last year the sweet potato crop was pretty much a bust, due to the lack of rain. We only got 25 pounds from our 18 plants (average 1.4 pounds per plant). With near record rainfall this year, I had high hopes for a good haul of sweet potatoes. And I was not disappointed!

digging for sweet potatoes (click on any image to enlarge)

This year I planted three varieties: two old standbys (Centennial and Beauregard) and a new one for us (Hernandez). I planted Hernandez based on a conversation with the staff at my favorite local garden center, Robin’s Nest in Boonville. They told me it had done well for them. I am happy to report it did well for us too.

Before planting I formed a ridge of soil about 8 inches tall and a foot wide along the length of the row. On May 23 the plants were set about 15 inches apart along the row. I added no fertilizer, and since the pH had tested 6.4 last fall I didn’t add any lime either.

Hernandez sweet potatoes

The seven Hernandez plants yielded a little over 24 pounds of sweet potatoes. They were nice sized – not too big. The average per plant was 3.4 pounds. The largest tuber weighed 28 ounces.

Beauregard sweet potatoes

But Beauregard did even better. The six plants yielded almost 22 pounds, for an average of 3.6 pounds per plant. And that was in spite of vole damage on two of the six plants. The largest one tipped the scales at 24 ounces.

vole damage on Beauregard

Centennial came in third in the race this year. The six plants yielded almost 17 pounds, for an average of 2.8 pounds per plant. The potatoes were huge though, and some had started splitting, no doubt a reaction to our recent 2 inches of rain. The largest was a whopper that weighed almost 3 pounds. We may have to invite company over when we serve that one!

this Centennial sweet potato weighed almost 3 pounds

I will let the sweet potatoes cure inside in a warm place for 2-3 weeks before eating. And I wait until after the potatoes are cured to remove any excess soil. If cured properly and stored in a cool dark location near 55-60F, the sweet potatoes will stay in good condition for probably 8-9 months, maybe longer. That is, if we don’t eat them all first.

2011 sweet potato harvest

Our total haul for 2011 was 62 pounds from 19 plants, averaging 3.3 pounds per plant. What a difference a year makes!

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12 Responses to Digging Sweet Potatoes

  1. Robin says:

    It looks like you are going to be having sweet potato fries, sweet potato pie and everything sweet potato you can think of! Great harvest!

    I’m going to have to try growing them next year.

  2. Jody says:

    What a great harvest. You do such a good job with details for the entire harvest. I’d like to be that good at record keeping and blogging. It was a good year for us too. We harvested around 45 pounds with 12 plants. Hand’s down sweet potatoes have been my favorite garden harvest this year!

    • Dave says:

      That was quite a haul you got! Sweet potatoes can give a lot, for a little amount of effort. They are my idea of low-maintenance gardening. Plus they are tasty and good for you too!

      • Jody says:

        So true. Belle planted them and that was it. The vines went everywhere. I had no idea what was going on in that corner of the garden, then shazam, we had food! Here’s to enjoying them as much as we have.

  3. mac says:

    Nice big sweet potatoes.

  4. Lexa says:

    Villager- your Sweet Potato harvest sure beat mine this year! I thought that mine did so poorly because of lack of heat but now I am wondering if I didn’t water them enough as well. I grew them in a large black Ploypropolene grow bag for the first time and when I harvested the soil was mostly dry. I guess becasue they come from the tropics I was very concerned about giving them too much water………

  5. GrafixMuse says:

    Great Sweet Potato harvest! I am wondering how they would grow up here in zone 5a. I may give them a try soon.

  6. Liz says:

    When did you plant them? That is a truly wonderful harvest – I had to get out the weight converter – 28kg is a lot of sweet potato!

  7. Diana says:

    That is a really nice sweet potato harvest and variety. Our summer is long but the problem is too dry. I have much success growing them in pots rather than on the patch.

  8. Pingback: Growing Sweet Potato in Melbourne? Impossible Dream? | Suburban Tomato

  9. Andrea says:

    Hi There, thats a fantastic harvest ! thanks for sharing your storing hints too.

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