Brief Report on 2010 Sweet Potato Harvest
Last year I trialed 20 heirloom sweet potato varieties, courtesy of Gary at Duck Creek Farms.
I can't find my list from last year either online or on paper, so this is what I remember or what I found in some brief notes jotted onto note cards at the time of harvest.
If I grew a variety that isn't listed here, it either didn't produce tubers, died (only 1 or 2 varieties did, but I don't remember now what they were) or we ate them before I jotted down the few notes I managed to capture on paper.
I'd like to add that all the plants that survived grew beautifully and had foliage running all over the place on top of the mulch. I had black fabric mulchcloth underneath the hay mulch, and they didn't root into the ground, which can adversely affect your harvest.
Production of some may have been impacted by the 9" of rain that fell over the course of a couple of days in September. In fact, I'd be surprised if all that rain in such a short period didn't affect them in some way. That heavy rainfall set off another course of rapid foliar growth at about the same time the sweet potatoes normally would be sizing up, but I don't know if that had any effect on the size or number of tubers per plant since I hadn't grown these varieties before and couldn't compare their 2010 performance to a prior year's performance.
So, from the scribbled notes on notecards sitting on top of the sweet potato storage bin, here's how they did:
Bugs Bunny--This variety produced nice, medium-sized yields of beautiful, elongated very orange roots. It is a favorite of mine. I grew it in a large container with a bagged potting mix and sometimes a rich mix gives you longer, more elongated roots than regular soil will, so I don't know if the roots would be less elongated if grown in the ground. but they also had width and all were of a usable size. Great texture, flavor and color. I even snacked on some of them raw after hosing off the dirt right there in the garden on the day I dug them up.
Carolina Gold--I'm hazy on the name of this one so it may be incorrect because I lost the masking tape label on the side of the plastic bin they were in. It produced in a container of potting soil right beside Bugs Bunny and was a nice, prolific yielder of elongated tubers too. This was the cats' favorite sweet potato. While they were curing, the cats wouldn't leave them alone. I have no idea why.
Southern Delight--produced huge yields of white-fleshed sweet potatoes, some very rounded and some more elongated
Heartogold--produced large yields, some were large and oblong and the others were medium-sized and oblong
Cherokee--huge producer. In fact, probably the best producer of all of them.
Creole--moderate producer of elongated roots
Regal--another huge producer here with variable sizes, some oblong and some much more rounded
Baker--moderate producer of sweet potatoes that have a tan skin. Their appearance reminds me a lot of Irish potatoes.
Hopi--moderate producer of long, somewhat narrow roots.
Resisto--good producer, oblong SPs, had tons and tons of foliage that ran all over, especially once it grew through the garden fence and into a flower bed, where it did root down into the ground a little.
Hayes--long stringy roots that were about pencil-sized in thickness. I don't know if it would have sized up better if it had more time to grow. I didn't harvest until Oct. or Nov. because we were busy with fire dept. fundraisers and other fire dept. activity, including an unexpectedly high number of grass fires considering the high rainfall, for a while during that time frame.
Sumo--light producer, skinny roots that didn't size up very much'
Vardaman USDA--very good producer
Hawaii--heavy producer of very oblong roots about the width of a typical fingerling type Irish potato. This one was at the end of the bed that got a bit more shade than I liked and that may have affected the yields.
Hernandez--very heavy producer
We are still working our way through eating them, and I am pulling some out of the bins to start rooting in a few weeks.
In general, meal times are so hectic that I forget to jot down descriptive notes about the flavor and texture, but I have to say that there hasn't been a single one with poor flavor or texture.
As we continue eating them this winter, I'll try to remember to mention what ones we cooked and how they tasted.
Overall, it was a wonderful sweet potato harvest and if anyone is interested in growing heirloom sweet potatoes, I highly recommend you consider purchasing your slips from Duck Creek Farms. Remember that it is very important to support our local Oklahoma growers, particularly if you want to grow heirlooms. If we don't buy the heirlooms our local growers are saving and growing, they won't be able to keep offering them due to lack of demand.
As with heirloom tomatoes, heirloom sweet potatoes offer a nice variety of different flavors, colors and textures. The best way to figure out which ones will perform best for you and best please your taste buds is just to plant several kinds and compare them. Taste is such a subjective thing that I hate to comment on it too much because we all have different taste buds that perceive flavor in their own way.