California sweet potato harvest begins - The Packer

California sweet potato harvest begins

08/06/2008 12:00:00 AM
Don Schrack

Sales were brisk in early August, said Duane Hutton, general manager for Yagi Bros. Produce Inc., Livingston. The start of the harvest was a few days late, he said, but the early-season yields were about average.

Production of organic sweet potatoes has increased in California.

“California supplies the entire nation when it comes to organic production,” Fookes said.

AV Thomas has nearly 2,000 acres of organic sweet potatoes, and that represents about 80% of the state’s organic production, he said.

Stoddard said the average yield in California is 680-700 boxes per acre. But volume could be on the light side this year.

“You’re never going to get as good a yield on replant situations,” Stoddard said. “You never know what’s going on with the crop until harvest.”

Grower-shippers said the harvest would continue into October or until the first hard frost.

A consolation sweet potato growers are afforded — unlike table grape and stone fruit growers — is that the harvest is not time-sensitive.

“There is no problem with leaving the potato in the field,” Hutton said. “Cut off the water, and it’s kind of like storing it in the ground until digging it.”

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