Sweet potato harvest not so good. small tubers (pics)

PotatoboyOctober 1, 2012

Hello, guys.

This year was my first time growing sweet potatoes and I was really excited for when harvest day would come. All my hard work would finally pay off. Especially when my parents told me you won't have any potatoes..

I planted the slips in May and harvested them today. So it's been close to 140 days.

I had 3-4 Japanese Sweet Potato plants and 3 regular orange sweet potato.

The vines and bushes were very healthy and growing like wildfire but the tubers were so small. Even at 140 days of maturity.

What did I do wrong? too much nitrogen? The only plant that had A big potato was flowering.

I had a 4' by 3' plot and the growth was more wilder than most videos I saw online but I had 10x less potatos vs plants.

It was so BAD I drove to the supermarket to throw some in :D but will remove them when I cure my newly harvested ones

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Oh yeah. My beauregard sweet potato had only 2 little fingerlings!! I planted 3+ slips into the ground..

The soil used to be lawn soil SO either it the soil was high in nitrogen or it was too compact.

I also did not hill or mound the potato plants

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:43AM
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You need a soil test to be certain what's going on with the ground itself. No amount of guessing will help. Tell them what you're trying to grow and they can offer corrections tailor made for specific crops, usually.

Generally, you need softer soil so the tubers will be able to expand. Incorporate all the organic matter you can find. Compost is supreme, but chipped leaves are great, manures are good, and if you absolutely have to, try peat moss. Someone suggested sand to me, but I believe that red clay plus sand = concrete and I don't want it to be worse than it is already.

I plant about 300 slips per year. I do the same thing every year. I get varying results and still don't know why. Last year, I had a decent crop, but not any huge tubers like in the past. So this March, I hauled in fresh horse manure and dumped it and tilled it in. When I was ready to plant in May when the slips arrived, that had mostly rotted. I use a turn plow to make hilled rows. It digs deep. I go both ways to make one row so it's uniform on both sides. Works for me. Then I'll go back and hand plant 18 to 24 inches apart and firm the soil around them on top of the ridge. I make a depression around them to help catch water. Otherwise, it runs off, not in. Red clay forms a crust in a heart beat. I'll water a few times as is, then I'll go back and poke holes in the hill 6 or 8 inches deep and water again into the holes so water gets into the hill. Usually I have to water 4 to 6 times, once every other day, before it rains enough and the plants look like they will survive on their own. I may go 3 days between if it's overcast and not so hot.

Watering is done by hand. I'm not near a spigot. Used to be 2 gallon cans filled from a rubbermaid container and spritz each plant. Now I have a 300 gallon tank on a trailer and a hose. I still walk the rows, but I can give each plant more water at a time without fear of running out so soon. 300 plants means about 500 row feet. last year, I dumped a quart of fish emulsion, a bottle of NOG, and a small bottle of chelated iron (needed magnesium or manganese, I forget) and just for good measure, a handful of 20 mule team borax for boron. They need boron. I added 200 gallons of water. Nice fragrant cocktail. I watered both the sweets and the tomatoes and pepper transplants with it. I had the best pepper production I've ever had. Sweets, not so much.

This year, I added fresh manure in March and watered again with the cocktail. I dug sample sweets early last week that were the size of gallon milk jugs. Literally. I'm waiting to dig the rest another week or two. I usually dig them right at the September/October change. I've had rabbit issues this year from what I can tell looking at the patch. But the vines are thick and heavy, the leaves are huge. I'm looking forward to the big dig in another week or two.

Next year, I should be using rain water. That's the plan anyway.

See if this works. If not, click the link below. This is from two random plants near the end of the rows. Smaller regular size tubers are in the bucket...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:55AM
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Potatoboy, I've been growing sweet potatoes here in zone 5 for a decade or so. Some years they are great, some years not so much and I can't think of anything I do differently from year to year. Sweets seem to be inconsistent for me.

Last year I had "fingerlings" from Georgia Jet and nothing big enough to eat from Nancy Hall. The year before that I had huge Georgia Jets but the Beauregards did awfully. This year I got a few white Nancy Hall type and a few Georgia Jets, but maybe 5 pounds of potatoes from 24 plants. Definitely not cost effective, but we were in the middle of a drought, it was hot and dry most of the summer and although we sprinkled the garden, it evaporated in the heat nearly as fast as we could pump it.

I don't know if I'm going to plant sweet potatoes any more, it's cheaper to buy them!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 1:05AM
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