The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the bindweed or to say to the morning glory vine family Convolvulaceae. Its large, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are used as a root vegetable. In this article, you will know When To Harvest Sweet Potatoes,planting, seeding, and more.
Sweet Potatoes are warm-season plants that are very sensitive to cold temperatures. Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable with deep orange flesh and the best time to harvest sweet potatoes is during the summer season.
Sweet potatoes are commonly grown in southern regions as they require four months of the warm season. Given below, are more information regarding how to grow sweet potatoes in suitable soil and climatic conditions.
When To Harvest Sweet Potatoes?
When to harvest sweet potatoes completely depend on the seasonal growing. If there was adequate water and sunshine during the growing season, harvesting sweet potatoes should begin about 100 to 110 days after planting.
Given below, there are the steps mentioned on how to plant sweet potatoes and how to grow sweet potatoes.
- Sweet potatoes are not grown from seed. They are grown from sprouts grown from existing sweet potatoes. Therefore, it is advised not to plant the sprouts before 3 to 4 weeks of the last spring frost.
- The main trick is planting sweet potatoes early enough for them to mature properly, but not early enough to get killed by the spring frost.
- Thirdly, before planting sweet potatoes, it must be made sure that they are getting a long growing season. Most varieties take about three to four months to mature, approximately around 90 to 120 days.
Steps For Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
There are some steps that are advised to follow before harvesting sweet potatoes.
- One must start digging up the sweet potatoes as soon as they are big enough for meal.
- It is advised to start harvesting once the leaves and the ends of the vines starts turning yellow or about 100 days after planting.
- Loosen the soil around each plant to avoid injuring the tubers. It is also advised to cut away some vines.
- Now, pull up the plant’s primary crown and dig up the tubers by hand. Sweet potatoes need to handled with care or else they bruise themselves.
- Shake off the extra dirt and the roots are advised not to be washed by water.
- The harvesting of the sweet potatoes must be completed before the first fall frost.
Precautions Required While Growing Sweet Potatoes
For every crop and vegetable, there are some precautions that are taken during the planting season and the harvesting season. Given below are some of the precautionary steps that must be taken while growing sweet potatoes.
- Firstly, a proper planting site must be chosen. A sunny spot with well drained soil is the best for planting sweet potatoes.
- Proper care must be taken. Weed the sweet potato beds on a regular basis.
- Most importantly, before planting the sweet potatoes, it must be ensured that they are having a long growing season. Most of the varieties of sweet potatoes takes three to four months to mature, which means it takes around 90 to 120 days to grow.
- The harvesting must be done before the winter. The winter frost is very harmful for the sweet potato crop.
Steps To Grow Sweet Potatoes From A Sweet Potato
Sprouts of sweet potatoes are available in markets, gardens, and in nurseries. So, it is not at all difficult to collect the sprout of sweet potatoes. Now, we will discuss the method of how to grow sweet potatoes from a sweet potato sprout.
- Store the sweet potatoes in a cool (55°F), dark place until mid-April May or about 90 days before the last spring frost. Late winter frost is very harmful for the sweet potatoes.
- At this time, it is advised to place the sweet potatoes in containers on top of 3 inches of light, organic, well-draining soil. Suitable soi condition is very important for the growing sweet potatoes.
- Lightly cover the space between two soil layers with a few inches of additional soil.
- Now the soil must be watered on a regular basis and as needed to keep the soil damp, not soggy.
- Maintain the soil and the room at 75°F to 80°F in sunlight. One can also use any heating machine to maintain the temperature.
- Within 4 to 6 weeks, the slips or the sprouts will be 6 to 12 inches long, with leaves and roots.
- Remove the slips from the sweet potatoes, which have developed the roots.
- If no roots developed during the process, there is nothing to worry. Remove the slip and place it in water; roots will appear in 1 to 2 weeks.
- If it is too soon to plant the sweet potatoes, stand the slips in potting mix or sand and keep moist until planting time.
Steps To Prepare A Planting Site For Sweet Potatoes
For the proper growth of a sweet potato, a perfect planting ground is much needed. Proper soil along with adequate sunlight and water is required for the sweet potato plants.
Given below are the methods to prepare a perfect planting site for sweet potatoes.
- It is advised to choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Sweet potatoes aren’t too picky, but they do prefer soil on the sandier side, and need plenty of air space in the soil for the roots to reach down. If the soil of the planting site is clayey, rocky, or compacted; raised beds needs to be constructed. Sweet potatoes need full sun to grow.
- Ensure there is enough space for vines to run down under the soil (3 feet between rows so the vines).
- Fertile, well-drained soil can be added. Along with it, add compost, perlite, and/or coconut coir to help build loamy soil and retain moisture. Adequate amount of water must be sprayed on the soil.
- It is advised to avoid adding animal manure, including pelleted chicken manure. It can result to stained roots.
- If you live in the northern US or Canada, where the temperature is comparatively low, it is best to cover the growing area with black plastic or fabric mulch about 3 weeks before planting sweet potatoes. This helps to warm the soil.
Soil Required For Growing Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is not too picky but they do require full sun and a warm climate. Therefore, it is advised to place the sweet potatoes in well-drained, fine, sandy loam soil with a slightly acidic pH 5 to 7.5. This allows the sweet potatoes to grow easily.
Steps To Grow Sweet Potatoes
We have discussed the soil condition and the climate that are suitable for the growth of sweet potatoes. Now, keeping in mind all the aforementioned methods, given below are the steps on how to grow sweet potatoes
- The sweet potato needs to be side dressed for 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting with 5-10-10 fertilizer. If there is a sandy soil, more fertilizers need to be used.
- Weed the sweet potato beds regularly starting 2 weeks after planting.
- It is advised to avoid deep digging with a machine or other tool that disturbs the feeder roots.
- Water the sweet potatoes regularly, especially during mid-summer. Deep watering in hot, dry periods will help to increase yields.
- It is advised not to prune sweet potato vines; they should be vigorous.
- Late in the season, reduce watering the sweet potato to avoid cracking of the tuber’s skin in storage.
- It takes almost 3 to 4 months for a sweet potato to mature. Just before the winter season, the harvest of sweet potatoes starts.
Harvesting Season Of Sweet Potatoes
Usually, the harvesting of sweet potato occurs in late September or in early October just before the first frost. Many believe that frost will not affect sweet potatoes because they grow underground, but it is not true.
The first winter frost is very harmful to the sweet potato crops. It may even damage the entire planting ground.
Different Varieties Of Sweet Potatoes
It has been observed that the fastest-growing sweet potato varieties have orange flesh, but you might also consider varieties with white, yellow, or even purple flesh.
If anyone is interested in cooking, must take note that orange-flesh varieties cook up moist; white and yellow sweet potatoes become creamy; purple sweets are dry and starchy. Given below are the different varieties of sweet potatoes.
- Beauregard: Originally came from Louisiana, but grows well in the north too. It has dark red roots, dark orange flesh, and stores well.
- Jewel (aka ‘Yellow Jewel’), another variety of sweet potato, has copper-coloured skin and orange flesh; disease-resistant. It is best to store them in container.
- Vardaman is a bush type and good for small gardens; it has blue/purple foliage, golden skin, and reddish-orange flesh.
Best Ways To Store Sweet Potatoes
After harvesting the sweet potatoes, it is advised to avoid storing sweet potatoes in the refrigerator because it will produce a hard center and an unpleasant taste. Instead, it is advised to store sweet potatoes in a dry, cool, well-ventilated container.
For best results, it is advised to store the sweet potatoes in a basement or root cellar, which is away from strong heat source. But, often this type of storage is not available. So, one can definitely store the sweet potatoes in containers after harvesting.
1.What happens if you harvest sweet potatoes too early?
A: There is one advantage to harvest sweet potatoes early. It allows to spread the sweet potatoes out in the yellow wagon to cure.
2.How long can sweet potatoes stay in the ground?
A: Sweet potatoes can stay in the ground for six to ten months.
3.What month do you pick sweet potatoes?
A: It is advised to harvest the sweet potatoes in mid-September just before the winter frost.
4.Can I grow sweet potatoes from sweet potato?
A: Yes. One can grow sweet potatoes from the sprout of another sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are warm seasoned plants and are very sensitive to cold temperature. Just like any other crop, sweet potatoes too have some definite methods to grow in different soil conditions.
After growing, proper care must also be taken. At the right time, the sweet potatoes must be harvested or else, they will get destroyed by the winter frost.
So, there are many precautions and steps that are required in the entire process of sweet potato cultivation, right from the planting phase to the harvesting time during the month of September- October.