News Filed Under Sweet Potatoes
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweet potato yields and quality appear to be favorable despite rains that have harvest season running seven to 10 days behind schedule.
Calhoun County Extension director Charles Fitts said growers in Mississippi's sweet potato heartland are looking for good weather to finish harvest by the first week in November.
“If rainy weather slows growers down too much, potatoes will be at risk of losing quality when the ground freezes,” Fitts said. “So whenever field conditions are good, growers are working as quickly as possible.”
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Neither the chill nor the early hour dampened the enthusiasm of 100 Mississippi State University students who gave up their weekend beauty sleep to bag 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes for the Mississippi Food Network.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Timely rains in July and now during sweet potato harvest have been the keys to any success Mississippi's growers have had during this second consecutive dry summer.
Bill Burdine, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said rains that passed through the state in early July were essential for the early sweet potato crop. Yields and quality have been slightly lower for the midseason potatoes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi sweet potato farmers were not expecting a good crop after this year's drought, but producers are pleasantly surprised as harvest nears completion.
Benny Graves, executive secretary of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, said the crop should be fair to good overall. The drought should make the potatoes sweeter than normal.
“We're not going to have a bin-buster because of the drought stress, but quality is good,” Graves said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians will be encouraged to support the state’s sweet potato industry before the holidays during an upcoming event at the Farmers’ Market in Jackson.
Sweet Potato Day will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sept. 30. The Farmers’ Market is located on High Street across from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweet potatoes are great baked or in pies, but fans will soon have a new way to enjoy them, especially during the summer months.
The Mississippi State University Dairy Processing Plant is adding sweet potato to its list of ice cream flavors. MSU's history with ice cream production goes back to the 1940s, and the campus currently churns out 15 flavors. Most are the standards, including chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, but sweet potato will join muscadine ripple as the second flavor unique to MSU.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina and Rita actually helped most of Mississippi's sweetpotato fields in 2005.
Bill Burdine, Mississippi State University Extension Service area agronomist in Chickasaw County, said although some isolated cases of rot may have occurred, none of the storms caused significant damage.
"Dennis, Katrina and Rita provided rains at mostly the right time for the crop's needs," Burdine said. "Katrina caused significant damage to area corn but helped the low-growing, ground-hugging sweetpotato plants."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's sweet potato crop will finish like it started: at the mercy of the weather.
Bill Burdine, area agronomist in Chickasaw County with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said above-average rainfall in late May and early June divided the 2004 sweet potatoes into two distinct crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweetpotato growers have high hopes for this year's crop despite planting 1,500 fewer acres than in 2002.
Bad weather conditions damaged last fall's supply of the crop, which in turn increased the demand -- and price -- of sweetpotatoes this season.
"Supplies nationwide are low, so prices are pretty high at around $16.50 per 40-pound carton now," said Benny Graves, sweetpotato specialist with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce's Bureau of Plant Industry. "Now what we need to do is harvest a crop and make a profit."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- It was easy to see how above-ground crops suffered from back-to-back tropical storms, but those growing below ground took a less obvious beating.
Projections at mid-October were that the state lost at least 10 percent of its sweet potato crop from heavy rains in the middle of harvest. Mississippi has about 15,000 acres of sweet potatoes and typically harvests these from the second week of August until early November.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweetpotato growers are finding strong yields but weaker prices as they enter the homestretch for this year's harvest.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi sweetpotato farmers can expect variable crops this year, depending on the amount of rainfall each of their fields received.
"Most farmers can expect an average crop, but it will vary because some fields received more rain than others. There will probably not be as many bigger potatoes because of the drought. Not only do dry conditions stunt their growth, but it allows timely harvest that prevents oversizing," said Paul Thompson, Extension horticulture specialist for Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Like other Mississippi crops, the sweetpotato crop is reaching the end of a long, hard row, but its tropical nature has prevented catastropic results.
Chickasaw County agent Charlie Fitts said the majority of sweetpotatoes are the Beauregard variety, which has been one of the most successful varieties in recent years.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Sweet potato vines are becoming all the rage as landscape plants. It is not too hard to believe when you realize that many of us grow their close relatives, the morning glories or moon flowers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weather delayed planting the 1997 sweetpotato crop by three-weeks, making growers scramble now to get it out of the ground as quickly as possible.
Mississippi has 8,200 acres planted in sweetpotatoes this year, an increase of 400 acres more than last year. Harvest began Sept. 15 and is about 35 percent complete. The state usually sells 1.5 million 40-pound boxes of sweetpotatoes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's sweetpotato growers win the national bragging rights for the quality of this year's crop.
Buyers, who traditionally have looked to North Carolina for sweetpotatoes, are turning to Mississippi and Louisiana for much of this year's supplies.
The quality of the crop in North Carolina, the nation's top sweetpotato state, was affected by two damaging hurricanes.
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
STARKVILLE -- Growers are hoping for more rainfall to aid harvest of Mississippi's 6,000 acres of sweetpotatoes.
Acreage is up about 20 percent for 1995, due to good prices and expanding markets for Mississippi's sweetpotatoes.
"Our sweetpotatoes are high quality, and are competing well in the marketplace," said Benny Graves, plant pathologist with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry in Starkville.