Strong sweet potato markets should weaken as harvests ramp up.

Prices have come down a bit since August, and will likely come down a bit more by about Oct. 1, George Wooten, owner of Chadbourn, N.C.-based Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., said Sept. 12.

But movement should stay brisk.

“Demand seems to be really good,” Wooten said.

Jumbo prices could stay higher than other sizes because growers harvested early, before some potatoes had fully sized, to fill the pipeline, he said.

Brenda Oglesby, sales manager with Faison, N.C.-based sweet potato grower-shipper Southern Produce Inc., expected markets to stay steady “for awhile.”

Despite the early end to the 2013-14 deal, Southern was shipping cured-to-cured this year, with shipments beginning the week of Sept. 8, Oglesby said.

On Sept. 11, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $19-22 for 40-pound cartons of No. 1 orange variety sweet potatoes from North Carolina, up from $16-18 last year at the same time.

Through Sept. 12, just about 10% of the North Carolina had been harvested, Wooten said.

Wayne E. Bailey ran out of 2013-14 potatoes about Aug. 9, and started digging new-crop potatoes two days later. The company hopes to begin shipping new-crop cured product about Sept. 22, Wooten said.

Quality was excellent through mid-September, particularly compared to last season, Wooten said.

“The shape, size and quality are really good — a lot better than last year.”

Oglesby agreed.

“What has been dug, the quality is extremely good. We’ve had just the right amount of rain.”