Whether they got lucky with rain or had to rely more on their irrigation systems, Southern sweet potato growers expect good quality and yields heading into the 2012-13 season.
Rain was scarce in some sweet potato growing regions, but it was often timely, said Mike Kemp, vice president of brand development at Nixa, Mo.-based Market Fresh Produce LLC.
Heat doesn’t cause damage
“While the first part of the season for the Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana acreage was pretty dry, they got the rain they needed in time for a successful crop,” Kemp said. “North Carolina had lots of rain throughout the growing area, but nothing to cause alarm so far.”
Mother Nature also has been kind to Burch Farms Inc., Faison, N.C., this summer, partner Jimmy Burch Sr. said.
“The growing weather’s been great,” Burch said. “This is one year where we’ve had plenty of rain. Normally we have a lot of dry periods. It’s been hot, but sweet potatoes like it hot.”
Burch also said he hasn’t seen any damage to crops from adverse weather conditions.
Wynne, Ark.-based Matthews Ridgeview Farms hasn’t been as lucky with rains, but irrigation has supplied enough moisture to guarantee a high-quality 2012 crop, co-owner Kim Matthews said.
“We’ve had a dry year just like everybody else, but we’ve had irrigation, the quality and color look great and the sizing is on track,” Matthews said Aug. 14.
Dawson Farms, Delhi, La., enjoyed abundant rainfall around planting time, and irrigation has helped make up for drier conditions since, saleswoman Eva Dawson said.
“It’s been nice and ideal,” she said. “We plan on getting in early.”
That likely will be late the week of Aug. 20, two or three weeks earlier than typical, Dawson said.
Good quality, quantity
Cured product likely will begin shipping from Dawson Farms the week of Sept. 17, Dawson said.
Occasionally, Dawson Farms is forced to ship uncured sweet potatoes, Dawson said. Fortunately, that she won’t happen this season.
“We don’t anticipate shipping any green,” she said. “It’s not our favorite thing to do.”
Dawson Farms’ 2012 acreage, at 2,900 acres, is unchanged from last year, Dawson said. The company expects to ship cured-to-cured, with good quality from the beginning.
“We’re very pleased with our quality,” she said. “It’s sizing up nicely.”