sweet potatoes/pros cons

pitterpat_2009January 27, 2014

was thinking of putting a row of sweet potatoes in my hoophouse as well as out side where I had pumpkins and youkon golds and red norlands not sure if this would be considered a good choice for previous potato patch.
Do sweet potatos also attract potato bugs?
I am not finding much information in the seed catalogs.
Are they fairly easy to grow.... not many at farmers markets I go to are offering them, curious why.
Was going to order slips from Johnnys the beaulgard(spelling) variety, and also I didn't see what the harvest amount you get per slip planted... if anyone knows??
Since I have never grown these I would be grateful to any insight any one could provide. Thanks in advance!

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I didn't notice any potato bugs the 1 year that I grew sweet potatoes. I wouldn't put them inside of my hoop house. The year we did grow them, felt like needed a backhoe to dig them out. They grew so deep.

We planted Beauregard also, good potato. Amounts vary due to soil and other natural conditions.

You can get Beauregard cheaper at other places than Johnnys. Search online, there are actual sweet potato plant farmers, usually they are down south, but the difference in price will take care of shipping. You will be going directly to the source, versus using a middle man like Johnnys.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 9:49AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

What zone are you in? In general, sweet potatoes don't attract too many bugs. Sweet potatoes are completely different than regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes are enlarged roots, potatoes are a tuber. With that said, I have seen aphids on them before. That would be a bad thing inside a high tunnel.

Why do you want to plant them in the tunnel? It would be a different crop for a rotation, if that is your goal.

I would plant a higher value crop in the high tunnel, if it was me. There doesn't seem to be a big enough demand for early sweet potatoes in my area.

I order slips from tatorman.com. You can also grow your own. I am growing all my own this year.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:21PM
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i planted 200 slips of beauregard (thanks marla for spelling that) and got about 400 lbs out of it, or what worked out to $4.12/ft. i got more actually since i don't account for what i eat. they are not anything like regular potatoes and potato beetles aren't interested. i plant them in a raised bed covered by plastic mulch with a t-tape running down the middle under the plastic. I get my slips from Scott Farms in NC by mail.i sold them for $2/lb and was the only vendor at my market with them this year. i am going to grow the same amount this year of beauregard and also another 100' of 2 other varieties i want to try. digging them is the hardest part of the job.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:33PM
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Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are not at all related, so there's no need for rotation. You can start your own slips if you don't want that many, but Steele Plants is the place I get mine. There are many varieties, but I prefer Beauregaards as well because the tubers are always found directly beneath the plant. With other varieties you end up cutting the crop up pretty badly. I do, however, usually plant a hundred O'Henry as well just to offer something different. Their habit is similar to Beau, and they size up well. Make sure you cure sweet potatoes well. As for pests, my only problems come w/deer and voles. Deer will browse heavily on the vines while voles tunnel underneath and damage the tubers.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:52PM
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I would recommend sandhill preservation. 200+ varieties, all organic.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 3:40PM
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We grow Beauregard. They have an impressive ability to withstand neglect, drought, and poor soil.

From what I read, sweet potatoes don't like a soil that is too rich, or else they grow like carrots, thin and long.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:52PM
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Thanks All... posts are very helpful!
Yes Jay I was thinking the hoop house for rotation as I have only one its 30 x 70 first 2 years tomatoes and peppers both years was very productive but I had tomato horn worms last year and I don't use sprays really hate to not put tomatoes in there, I did a lot of worm picking and not so sure if I could keep up if it is worse this year, at least no blight or soil disease that was showing on the plants.
Ponder ponder.... I will plant them outside for sure from the tips you all have given .... leaning towards cucs and maybe early kale and bibb lettuce. I will research the slip sources you all suggested thanks so much all!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:41AM
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I really don't mean to come off like I am gonna sound, but...

I have raised Beauregard, and they do ok, but they don't have much flavor, especially compared to the purple and white varieties.

Is it just me?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 3:39PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I grow Beauregard and they are a more uniform and easy digging variety. I also grow purple ones and I am much more fond of their flavor and I believe they are much sweeter. The purples are also much more difficult to dig as they are a longer, skinnier sweet potato and not fat and round.

Pitterpat: Grow your tomatoes in the high tunnel and leave your sweet potatoes outside. We grow tomatoes in the same high tunnel with large amounts of compost added each year. I have talked to others who have grown tomatoes in the same tunnels for 12 to 15 years without problems. Just monitor soil and do tests.

About hornworms, hand pick or spray with Bt.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 4:11PM
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Confirm my thinking, hornworms are not a soil pest, but a small white moth/butterfly.

Was us, the more we'd pick the less we had the following year.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:08AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Around here we have to start digging our sweet potatoes early, or else we have trouble with mice chewing them. People won't buy them with chew marks, so we eat those ourselves. So we start digging about 3-4 weeks ahead of first frost, that really sucks because they might get bigger, but the mice start finding them if we wait until any combining is done around here. It helps in our sticky clay soil if you have a load of sand dumped where you want to do sweet potatoes. Mom grew hers in straight sand with timed release fertilizer and had better results than I did.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:21PM
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Harvest per slip can vary greatly from a few pounds to over 30 pounds, depending upon the variety. Finding a variety that works well for your area, produces well and tastes just how you want it to can be difficult. That being said, if you leave higher yeilding varieties in an intensive bed for a while for a while (at least here in the south) you can get yeilds of over 1 lb per square foot.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Summary of my 2013 Sweet Potato crop

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Sweet potatoes attract deer, we have to put up an electric fence to keep them out.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 5:11PM
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Woodchucks will go to great lengths to eat sweet potato leaves - I've seen them climb fences to get at them. And yes, deer love them too, but can be deterred by usual types of deer fencing.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 7:00PM
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What methods do you all use at harvest time? What is the best way to dig a small amount (100 ft) without damaging too many sweet potatoes?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 11:42PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I dig ours with a potato fork and by hand. If your soil is soft enough and the sweet potatoes are all in a bunch, you can pull them straight up out of the ground without any damage. I dug over 600 feet last year.

This year, I will dig by hand for awhile, then just run a single lister plow through the rest and take my losses.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:31AM
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i dug 200' last year by hand over a period of a couple of weeks. this year i will plant 300' and dig by hand.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:28AM
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When you say by hand do you mean just with your hands? My soil has quite a lot of clay in it so that would be very slow... But every time I use a tool it goes through another potato!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:15AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Are you planting your sweet potatoes on a hill or or are you planting them on flat ground?A

A raised hill will keep your potatoes in one place. Also some varieties are more concentrated and some require a backhoe to dig.

Here is a visual

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:46AM
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my sweet potato planting looks like jays. i use a shovel but not right next to the plant. when it has been tilled and then covered with plastic mulch the ground doesn't get real hard from the pounding of the rain and its fairly easy to dig. the vines are a big mess.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:26PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I use a pitchfork. I did 500' by myself last year.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Thanks everyone that's encouraging. And great photos.

Mine are in a hill yes. No black plastic but as the vines cover the mound completely the soil is not too compacted. I will try using the spade just at the edge of the hill and hope mine are all clustered like that. I tried digging around the first slip just to see if it's harvest time and I did split about half the potatoes but hopefully my technique will improve,

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:01AM
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