Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Harvest

Sweet potato vines right before harvest.  We grow our sweet potatoes under wire so the deer and rabbits cannot eat the vines.  I mow the vines to keep the aisles around the sweet potato bed open.  Otherwise, they'd probably cover half the garden.

We've grown an unknown variety of sweet potatoes for many years.  A friend gave us the sets.  We planted them.  They produced well.  We saved some potatoes for the following year's sets.  This system worked well for several years.  However, in recent years, production fell dramatically so we decided to try a different variety.  We chose the Beauregard developed by Louisiana State University

Beauregard sweet potatoes produced a lot of above ground growth.  I don't know if that is typical for this variety or the result of our growing conditions.

We normally let our sweet potatoes grow for as long as possible in the fall.  We wait until a frost is forecast before digging the potatoes.  Once the tender vines are killed by frost, you must dig the potatoes or they will rot.  However, first frost is late this year.  It still hasn't happened.  Jo and I decided to go ahead and dig our potatoes.  We figured they already grown as much as they were going to grow.  Additional time in the ground would probably only increase mice and vole damage.

A typical bunch of freshly dug sweet potatoes.

Beauregard produced well for us.  We harvested 163 pounds of sweet potatoes from a forty foot bed.  That's over 100 pounds more sweet potatoes than we harvested from the same amount of space last year.  Summer 2010 was hot and dry here.  I attribute the increased production to the Beauregard variety.

One of the more distinctive misshapen sweet potatoes

Beauregard produced many strangely shaped potatoes and seemed prone to more above ground growth that is normal for sweet potatoes.  I don't know if these traits are characteristic for the variety or the result of our growing conditions. We also had quite a bit of mice and vole damage, but that's not the potatoes' fault.  We've yet to come up with an organic solution for the mice and voles that eat our root crops.

Total harvest.  163 pounds of sweet potatoes.

So how do the Beauregard sweet potatoes taste?  We don't know yet.  Sweet potatoes must cure for a month or so before they're ready for eating.  They need time to convert starches into sugar. 



Lisa at Greenbow said...

This looks like a good haul. I have eaten sweet potatoes from my Mother's garden but didn't know that we left them to cure for a month before doing so. I always learn something on your blog Marvin. Those southern Sweet Potatoes liked that long dry hot summer.

Marvin said...

You don't have to cure sweet potatoes before eating, but they're supposed to taste and store better if you do. That said, we don't really cure our potatoes properly. They're supposed to be cured for about 10 days at 80-85°F and high relative humidity (85-90 percent). We just but them into our basement which isn't nearly that warm this time of year.

Purdue University
Consumer Horticulture

Pat - Arkansas said...

I learn something new every day. I didn't know that sweet potatoes needed to "cure" for the best taste. They really look good, Marvin. I hope they are as tasty as they look. Keep us posted.

Jeannette StG said...

How lucky you are! (having a green thumb probably also helps your "luck" -smile). Keep us up to date how they taste!

Lana Gramlich said...

How ironic...I just had a sweet potato with dinner last night. They're sooooooo good! Kudos on your bumper crop! Good luck with the varmints. If I come across an organic remedy I'll let you know!

abb said...

Of that one photo? Quack quack!

Appalachian Lady said...

I love sweet potatoes. I never tried growing them because of the lack of sunlight and long growing season here.

AphotoAday said...

Love the ducky...

Carol said...

A good harvest. And they are so good for you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

That looks a great crop - hope they taste as good as they look!