Sweet Potato Harves

macmexNovember 1, 2012

Hey Folks,

It's been challenging to get on lately, let alone take time to write. I just finished digging sweet potatoes for the year and thought I'd share some observations. I'll have to return to this thread to add more, as time does not permit a leisurely posting.

This year's harvest was the best I've had in three seasons. Having said that, I can also say that production was mediocre. Still, mediocre is better than poor ;)

Some varieties didn't do all that great. One did outstandingly: Red Wine Velvet.

Here are some pictures

This is Red Wine Velvet (red skin/orange flesh). It did REALLY well. My theory is that it did better than other varieties because the row was going East and West on a garden with a slight North/South slope. Whenever there was irrigation or rain, the hill trapped the moisture without letting it run off.

This is Ozark County, one which Gary Schaum (Duck Creek Farms) sent me to try. This one didn't size up as much as I would have liked. But, from what it did produce, I am pretty sure it will be a heavy producer in the future. It is also a good tasting sweet potato (yellow flesh and skin).

Sorry for the blur. I took this picture, at twilight, with my IPod. This is Brinkley White (white skin and cream flesh). This is one of my favorites. The roots pictured here were all from one plant, the one which produced the best. Unfortunately, when I gathered them up, I placed them gently on top of the bucketful of smaller roots, walked it from the garden gate and set the bucket over our chain link fence in the yard; all this to protect them from goats). I quickly returned to the garden gate, to latch it, before goats noticed the opportunity. I latched it, and turned around... to discover that my daughter's 16 hand quarter horse was happily reaching over the chain link fence and chowing down on my bucket of sweet potatoes. She demolished all the larger roots in just a few moments, spitting pieces all over the place when I chased her off!

I don't yet have pictures. But we also grew Grand Asia (rose/purple colored skin and white flesh), Cordner (orange flesh/ copper skin) and Cordner's Red (red skin/ orange flesh). All of these showed very good potential. It was a first for me to grow these and Ozark County. Gary sent them to me to trial. They're all keepers! Some were grown with partial shade, and I've concluded that sweet potatoes simply do WAY better with full sun. But I have enough to eat some and, most of all, to start for slips in the spring.

I hope to plant twice as many sweet potatoes for next year. We really eat a lot of them.

Okay. I'll return to this soon.


Tahlequah, OK

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George, those are great, thanks for posting pictures. I notice you had no splits, how did you manage that?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 8:22PM
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I'm not sure how I managed it. It might be that I splurged on watering these, and they never did get bone dry during the summer. Red Wine Velvet, particularly, was situated where it received watering when I watered two different areas in the garden.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 6:52AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Nice harvest, George.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 4:43PM
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Here it is November and I still have sweets to harvest. The freeze got the vines, but the roots are protected underground and are still fine. Will try to finish up this week.

We�ve had two consecutive years with bad growing conditions and my sweetpotato harvest was pretty dismal for the most part. I planted about 125 varieties and the harvest was all over the map. Also, some were very cracked while others had no cracks at all. I tried to keep them watered, but the creek ran dry in late July. Most were planted the end of June to the first week in July, so they didn�t get much water to produce.

Unfortunately my Red Wine Velvet was not as I had hoped. I have enough roots, but not near what I had hoped for what I planted. Also, my Ozark County didn�t make enough to get an Idea of how it will do for me. It was planted on the end of a row where the soil was not quite as good.

Some of the Varieties that produced what I considered very well to outstanding considering the season were: 8633 (the best producer with large uniform roots). Arkansas Red, Barberman, Ginseng Orange, Georgia Jet, (mine is the better clone and didn�t have any cracking), Mahan/Bradshaw and Dianne. Not necessarily in that order. Also my new purple fleshed variety called Molokai Purple was very good production although the roots are long and skinny. Honorable mention goes to Wakenda and Wilma�s. There are others, but these come to mind.

From a report of a grower that lives in southern Missouri, the best this year with 3 to 5 pounds per plant was Georgia Yam, Fork leaf Red, Darby, Indiana Gold, Hayman, Porto Rico, Envy and Brinkley White

A report from a Texas Grower also confirmed Red Wine Velvet as the best producer for him followed by "Purple".

A report from back east reported the best was 8633 with an average of 10 pounds per plant. This grower reported getting about 125 pounds from 25 plants of various varieties he got from me, which makes his growing season special I thought...

I am working on some sweetpotato breeding myself for purple flesh and was excited that some of my new seedlings this year had purple flesh. I�m trying to get a dark Purple flesh that tastes like Red Wine Velvet with the production of Beauregard. That should keep me busy for a few years LOL.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:05PM
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crm2431(7 -Tahlequah)

George I was wondering did the Red Wine Velvet produce a lot of vines?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:06PM
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I forgot to mention, I mulched pretty heavily this year. Perhaps that explains the lack of splitting.

Gary, I am so excited about your breeding project! I think I'll try growing a few vines in my planter, to see if I can get any seed.

Yes, Red Wine Velvet produced a good deal of vine growth. Also, it's possible that another reason for the higher production could be that I managed to keep my Red Wine Velvet row better weeded than others, followed by Ozark County.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Lovely pics George. As I told you, I lost my Red Wine Velvet by not raising the slips properly. I am disappointed because I really liked that one. So this year all we raised were Beuregard from slips. We only planted 10 slips this year and two of them didn't produce good tubers. Something ate everything from one plant and for some reason the tubers under another plant all rotted. They've been curing near the stove for a couple weeks but today Glenn weighed them and we have 45 lbs. That's nothing like the 200 lbs from 27 Beuregard plants we got a few years ago. (From 3 nine-packs) The vines didn't get very long this year and the deer helped themselves twice to part of them, but still the tubers were mostly very large--too large. I prefer nicely shaped ones like those you got. We also have several that have small spots eaten out. I think grub worms as I found one in a spot one time. We also got several splits. We love sweet potatoes so I sure would like to learn how to raise pretty ones.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:46PM
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George - your harvest looks great! Red wine velvet is gorgeous, of course. I'm green with envy. ;-) I've read many of your posts about growing and have learned a lot from you.

This was my first year to grow sweet potatoes - I made so many mistakes but I learned a lot from these mistakes. My soil needs compost and a little fertilizer, I need to be more diligent about preventing the vines from rooting, I need need to find a way to provide water during dry spells - soaker hose or drip.

I harvested 10 days ago because Hurricane Sandy was coming and we were forecast to get 10-12+ inches of rain. I grew 14 varieties from Gary at Duck Creek Farm. Top producers were Hernandez, Dianne, Mahan/Bradshaw, Georgia Red, Centennial, Red Cordener, and Bugs Bunny

The sweet potatoes are curing in the bathroom with a portable electric heater and humidifier. I haven't found any rules about length of time to cure so I'll try two weeks.

I look forward to your posts and photos next year. Thank you!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:50AM
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I grew Georgia Red, when we were living in NJ. Lost it in the move to Oklahoma. It's a VERY good variety! When we got established again, in OK, I ended up getting Oklahoma Red, from Sandhill Preservation Center. The first year or two, I harvest very skinny roots from Oklahoma Red. Then, it started producing some really nice, plump roots. I don't understand the mechanism, but there does seem to be an advantage in growing a variety, in the same place, for a couple of years (saving "seed" or course). Then, last year, I lost Oklahoma Red and even a number of my older favorites, due to fungus gnats. Gary Schaum very graciously helped me out with starts, including some new varieties to try. All I can say is that each and every one is a treasure, a treasure that one could spend years getting to know.

Pam, I'm sure your sweet potatoes will be well cured at the end of two weeks. I normally do mine for about 5 days.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 6:34AM
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Quick question -This year, I grew sweets in three 25-30' raised beds. The beds were about 5' feet apart, the vines grew several feet in all directions, so the sweets grew in an area that was at least 600 sq ft - a large chunk of real estate. Do y'all grow sweets in the same beds every year, or do you rotate?

If you rotate, how often? I have another large area that I can use for sweets next year, but I don't know know how to proceed - plant in the same beds every year? Rotate every other year? None of the above?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:17PM
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Pam, if you cannot rotate, then don't. I'm not sure how much difference it makes. All I do know, is that once, when living in Mexico, a friend of mine left his plants in the ground year-round, and he came up with a weevil infestation. But if you clean up well, I bet you might get away with it.

I try to move mine around. But I'm not real strict on it. Every year I try to avoid where I planted the year before, and that's about it. Here in the USA, I haven't had any pest problems.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 10:20AM
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George: Thanks for the advice. In SE Va where I live, sweet potatoes are a big commercial crop. I don't know how farmers could grow them commercially if they had to rotate every year. But these farmers also grow soy beans, winter wheat, and corn so I'm sure it can be done.

To hedge my bets, I may plant half in this year's beds, the other half in "new soil." Much will depend on whether I have time to make more beds in new soil. ;-)

Take care,

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:23AM
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