pruning sweet potatoes ??

slowpoke_gardenerAugust 14, 2011

My sweet potatoes don't seem to be producing like last year, like only 20 or 30% as much. Last year we had rain and the lawn grew, therefore I mowed the lawn and kept the sweet potato bed cut to within the bed. This year, no rain and no mowing so the sweet potatoes are grown about 3 or 4 feet past the bed border. The potatoes that I have dug are fewer and smaller. could the fact that I am not pruning them back with the mower be reducing their output?

The vines look healthy and have been getting plenty water.

I did not dig last year til near frost and got a good crop.

Now that we have had rain I expect I will be mowing and wondering if I should trim the ends of the vines back, hopefully to increase production, any ideas?


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Larry, my guess is that it is still likely you will have a good crop, but that it's simply too early. I would not prune your vines, however, as the vines are what feed into the roots.

I have no support for this, other than a hunch, but in spite of your watering, I suspect that your sweet potatoes may have paused root development because of the extreme conditions. I know, though I watered mine, some haven't made nearly the vines as normal. I couldn't maintain their soil moisture well enough, in spite of watering.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:14AM
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George, thanks for the info. I was so pleased with my crop last year and wanted a repeat for this year, but Mother Nature seem to want otherwise.

I have an irrigation tube in the garden (new area addition) and those potatoes look very well. The flower bed I have been digging out of is only watered by hand, it LOOKS very good, but not as good the ones in the new soil.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 9:38AM
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George knows his sweet potatoes, Larry, and that was my first thought too, that it is too early. I know that we won't get as good a crop this year, not only because of the weather but because the deer pruned ours so severely. I won't need as many though because I grew too many last year to get them all eaten before they made long sprouts trying to grow. The last of them are on the grill right now, baking. When they are done enough and have cooled down, we will peel and chop them for the freezer. I will use them to make pies and bread and soups next winter.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 1:08PM
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jdlaugh(Zone 6)

I had a great harvest last year in Tulsa, but my vines have been very slow to take off this summer. Of course, they haven't been helped by the hungry rabbits...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 5:53PM
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I used to say that once sweets get established, the hotter the better...After this year, I will have to reprase that, as some varietes don't like 110 heat. A new to me variety called Camote Morado just didn't like the heat at all and even died back several times. But it is growing well now.

Do not prun your sweets as they need all the growth they can produce to develope the most roots. Also you fail to mention what varities you planted. Some do not make as long of vines as others and some take longer to produce. Be patient as We still have enough season left to get some good sweets.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 6:52PM
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Gary, thanks for your reply, I have already trimmed the sweet potatoes. I mowed yesterday and trimmed slightly around the flower bed the potatoes are in. We have reciever over 5' of rain and the potatoes were going crazy.
I will not trim them any more because I do want a good crop. The rain we recieved really has kicked thing in gear, but if the heat continues it wont last long.

The potatoes are Beauregard, I will try to attach a picture. Keep in mind this picture is over 2 weeks old and we have had over 5' of rain after this picture was taken.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:25PM
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I will also try to attach a picture of the potatoes in the south garden. I trimmed them slightly to keep them out of the electric fence I put up because the deer were eating them. The deer had already been in the electric fence I put around the north garden and quit getting into these potatoes with the fence being hooked up.

This picture, if I can get it to go through is of potatoes from slips of last years "unknown Potatoes"


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Larry, your potatoes look great. Since our 6.4" of rain the last two weeks, ours are putting back out after the deer ate them back hard. And now that the pasture is greening up good, the deer are eating it instead of my garden. Just wish the grasshoppers would go back there too.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:29AM
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Thanks to all.

Dorothy, I am glad you potatoes are doing well. I think we owe a lot to the rain we have received in the past two weeks.

I don't plan on trimming the potatoes any more, but that is a bed I fixed for DW a few years ago, the she gave it back to me when she became unable to care for it. She told me that it was looking a little sloppy, being as that was not the bed I wanted to sleep in, I thought maybe I would trim it a bit.

I hope that my potatoes look as good underground at harvest time as they look above ground now.

My grasshopper problem seems to be a little less after the rain, not that I have fewer, just seems they have more to eat in the yard and pastures.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 2:31PM
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