Sweet potato growers expect to ship cured-to-cured in 2012

08/24/2012 04:24:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Dawson Farms is working with Louisiana State University on new varieties.

“We’ve planted some test plots, and those plots look promising,” Dawson said.

While it was still early in the season, early reports on the quality of Southern sweet potato crops have been positive, Kemp said.

It’s still too soon to tell whether Market Fresh crops will ship cured-to-cured, but early indications suggest it’s a strong possibility, Kemp said.

“Most of the growers we use are saying they should have enough old crop to last until late October or early November, which will allow this year’s crop to fully cure.”

Market Fresh expects to market more sweet potatoes this season, a fact that dovetails with the company’s expected sales gains, Kemp said.

Stewart Precythe, president and chief executive officer of Southern Produce Distributors Inc., Faison, also will ship cured-to-cured and expects to have new-crop cured by about Oct. 1.

In general, growing weather has been excellent this year, with good quality and high yields expected, Precythe said.

The one potential wrinkle could be in the early-set potatoes, which typically are the best of the season, he said.

“The set was not that good,” which could affect yields, he said.

Matthews Ridgeview expects to begin harvesting in late August or early September, with volumes expected to start hitting about the second week of September, right on time, Matthews said.

Matthews Ridgeview’s acreage is up about 10% this year, as the company readies new ground for sweet potato plantings. That’s a smaller annual increase than the company has seen in recent years, Matthews said.

Burch Farms’ acreage is similar to last year, Burch said. The company began harvesting the week of Aug. 13, about two weeks ahead of schedule.

Burch Farms expects to begin shipping cured new-crop potatoes about mid-September, Burch said. The company expects to ship cured-to-cured, with no green spuds expected in the pipeline this fall.

“They’ll take them if they have to, but nobody wants green,” Burch said.

A 15,000-square-foot building, a bagger and an optical sorter are among the additions Burch Farms has made in preparation for this season, Burch said.

“The sweet potato business has been very good to Burch Farms,” he said.

Wayne E. Bailey Produce, Chadbourn, N.C., expects to have new-crop cured product ready to ship by mid-September to early October, president George Wooten said.


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