fal08_freshly-dug_sweet_potatoes

Sweet potato harvest

Sweet potatoes

From planting back in mid-June, it’s been 3-1/2 months to the sweet potato harvest. The variety, Beauregard, is listed as 80-100 days to maturity, although, like potatoes, you can dig them up anytime, as soon as the tubers have formed. The vines are frost-sensitive, and the tubers shouldn’t be left in the ground if the tops are frost-killed, so I’ve been gambling with the first frost timing in order to let them grow for as long as possible. Today seemed like a good time to start. This has indeed been a really easy, pest- and disease-free crop, requiring only a little weeding until the vines filled in. Harvesting turned out to be equally easy. After digging up a few plants to see how the tubers grow, Lynn, Toshiko and I set up a quick hand-harvesting system: remove the vine, loosen the soil with a digging fork, scrabble around for the taters.

Digging for sweet potatoes

The soil had quite a lot of moisture from recent rains, so we had to spend a little extra time brushing off clumps of clayey earth. We left them for a couple of hours to dry in the breeze, then collected them in bins and brought them into the Milkhouse. By the book, sweet potatoes could use 10-14 days of curing at 80-85°F (25-28°C) . In part, this allows some of the starch to convert to sugar, making them…sweeter. That sort of HEAT isn’t available around here right now, but for this first time around, and too small a quantity for really long-term storage, I’m not too concerned. I baked some a couple of days ago, and they already taste good. Let’s see what a week or two indoors does for ’em!

Harvested sweet potatoes

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11 thoughts on “Sweet potato harvest”

  1. Mike,

    I was amazed by how much the curing improved the flavour.  Try it even with a small amount and I think you’ll probably start doing it all the time.  A closet can be used if you don’t want to heat a whole room.

    Chris

  2. Mike, have you considered growing them in your tunnel during the summer?  I have read in another (old) post that it goes mostly unused during the summer due to the trouble of ventilating it properly.  Since sweetpotatoes (yes, all one word) are a tropical crop, they would probably survive the heat spell just fine, and may actually benefit from it.  Coleman discuss growing sweetpotatoes in tunnel/greenhouse rotation briefly, in The New Organic Grower, IIRC.

    Sorry for digging up these post from the past, but TFB History just keep popping interesting stuff.  I can’t help it!

  3. Hi there all,

    Just today, I got sweetpotato farmer showing me his field with most his tubers showing either darker (blackish) spots or extensive areas on the freshly harvested tuber. When peeled the inside is just fine. I just wanted to share and if any of have seen similar problem.

  4. I notice blackened skin when there is more organic matter in the soil, and especially when it has been very wet. Sweetpotatoes in my clay soil are prettier than the ones with a lot of compost.

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