|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.
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.
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.
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.