With the weather forecast calling for 100% chance of rain tomorrow, and a possibility of light frost later in the week, I decided today was the day to dig sweet potatoes. With the temperature around 70F it was great to get out and enjoy some sunshine while it lasts.
Last year the sweet potato crop was pretty much a bust, due to the lack of rain. We only got 25 pounds from our 18 plants (average 1.4 pounds per plant). With near record rainfall this year, I had high hopes for a good haul of sweet potatoes. And I was not disappointed!
This year I planted three varieties: two old standbys (Centennial and Beauregard) and a new one for us (Hernandez). I planted Hernandez based on a conversation with the staff at my favorite local garden center, Robin’s Nest in Boonville. They told me it had done well for them. I am happy to report it did well for us too.
Before planting I formed a ridge of soil about 8 inches tall and a foot wide along the length of the row. On May 23 the plants were set about 15 inches apart along the row. I added no fertilizer, and since the pH had tested 6.4 last fall I didn’t add any lime either.
The seven Hernandez plants yielded a little over 24 pounds of sweet potatoes. They were nice sized – not too big. The average per plant was 3.4 pounds. The largest tuber weighed 28 ounces.
But Beauregard did even better. The six plants yielded almost 22 pounds, for an average of 3.6 pounds per plant. And that was in spite of vole damage on two of the six plants. The largest one tipped the scales at 24 ounces.
Centennial came in third in the race this year. The six plants yielded almost 17 pounds, for an average of 2.8 pounds per plant. The potatoes were huge though, and some had started splitting, no doubt a reaction to our recent 2 inches of rain. The largest was a whopper that weighed almost 3 pounds. We may have to invite company over when we serve that one!
I will let the sweet potatoes cure inside in a warm place for 2-3 weeks before eating. And I wait until after the potatoes are cured to remove any excess soil. If cured properly and stored in a cool dark location near 55-60F, the sweet potatoes will stay in good condition for probably 8-9 months, maybe longer. That is, if we don’t eat them all first.
Our total haul for 2011 was 62 pounds from 19 plants, averaging 3.3 pounds per plant. What a difference a year makes!