Mississippi sweet potato growers plant more than 20,000 acres of sweet potatoes each year. The state consistently ranks second in the United States in sweet potato acreage and third in production. In 2012, sweet potatoes were grown on approximately 22,500 acres, producing 394 million pounds of sweet potatoes with an estimated value of $79 million.
Sweet potato production is highly labor intensive. Each spring, a portion of the sweet potato roots produced in the previous year are placed into plant production beds and covered with 2 to 3” of soil. These sweet potato “seeds” produce vegetative shoots.
After several weeks, when the shoots reach 8 to 10” in length, these shoots are cut (by hand or mechanically). The shoots that are cut from the plant beds are called “slips.” Slips are then mechanically transplanted into ridged planting beds 8 to 10” high and 36 to 48” apart in sweet potato production fields.
Three to four months later, sweet potatoes can be harvested. Following harvest, sweet potatoes must be cured to set the skin, heal any wounds or abrasions that occurred during harvest, and increase the quality of the sweet potato flavor. Curing is accomplished by exposing newly harvested sweet potato roots to temperatures of 80 to 85°F with 85 to 90% humidity (typically for 6 to 8 days). Following curing, sweetpotatoes are stored at 55 to 60°F with approximately 85 to 90 percent humidity for up to 12 months.
At Mississippi State University, researchers and extension personnel from multiple departments collaborate to improve all facets of sweet potato production. Current research efforts include the areas of crop production, pest management (weeds, diseases, nematodes, and insects), plant physiology, food science, and agricultural and biological engineering.
- Improving Sweetpotato Packing Line Ergonomics (PowerPoint)
- MSU Sweetpotato Research & Extension Update 2013
- Update on Advanced Sweetpotato Lines
- Mechanical Undercutting to Minimize Sweetpotato Skinning During Harvest
- Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Handbook
- Mississippi Sweetpotato- 2012 Industry Evaluation
- Wild Hog Management
- Sweetpotato Tolerance to Dual Magnum Applications Followed by Simulated Rainfall
- Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops
- Weed Control Guidelines for Mississippi Vegetable Crops
- Nematode Thresholds
- Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Handbook
Other Sweetpotato Information
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The estimated $7.6 billion value of Mississippi agriculture increased by 1.8 percent in 2016, helping the industry retain its prominence in the state's overall economy.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Good seasons for cotton and corn should increase Mississippi's agronomic crops production value by 12.5 percent increase in 2016.
Brian Williams, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most crops had a good year despite the extended drought.
"Fortunately, the drought came late in the season when most crops were past the critical stages," Williams said. "Total production was up, and the value on crops was also up, thanks to cotton and corn."
VARDAMAN, Miss. -- After two challenging years in Mississippi sweet potato fields, farmers are hoping for a problem-free harvest over the next few weeks.
Stephen Meyers, Extension sweet potato specialist based at the Mississippi State University Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station, said growers are cautiously optimistic as harvest begins.
PONTOTOC, Miss. -- Mississippi State University faculty and specialists will update producers at a field day in Pontotoc Aug. 24 on recent sweet potato research.
Sweet potato producers, researchers, agriculture industry representatives and crop consultants can view research plots and variety trials at the MSU-Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station during the program.
Personnel with the MSU Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will present information on weed management, crop fertility and sweet potato varieties.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Neither crop yields nor prices were particularly bad in 2015, but Mississippi’s estimated state agricultural production value still dropped to $7.2 billion, a 4.9 percent decrease from the previous year.
Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the decline in agricultural value has two causes.