Sweet potato growers bet on a sure cure

08/26/2011 02:59:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

Some rainfall returned to the area in the second week of August, he said.

“These are good showers, too,” Graves said. “An inch or two — just what you need to grow a crop and size them up.”

Wayne Garber, partner, Garber Farms, Iota, La., said Louisiana had many 95- to 100-degree days in areas where it’s typically 90 to 95 degrees.

The crops received only about 40% of the rainfall they normally get, he said.

Garber estimated rainfall was 20 inches less than usual.

Garber Farms grows sweet potatoes in northern and southern Louisiana, and the conditions were the same in both areas, he said.

Wooten said the lack of moisture slowed crops and could lessen yields and decrease sizes.

“We may have to wait longer to let them size up,” he said.

Jimmy Burch Sr., partner, Burch Farms, Faison, N.C., said his crops finally received some rain in early August.

Burch Farms has been irrigating crops, as it typically does each season.

This year, however, was extra hot, with 11 days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Burch said.

The crop is fine, but yields probably will be lower, he said. With more acreage planted, though, he said overall North Carolina production should be about the same as last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s preliminary data indicate that North Carolina’s sweet potato plantings this year were up 9.1% compared to last year. Preliminary data show 60,000 acres planted in the state.

Watt said on Aug. 12 that conditions in the northeastern and eastern portions of North Carolina were good with some rainfall. The southern part of North Carolina was still dry, though.

The sweet potato growing region is in eastern North Carolina, which was especially dry from May through July, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

The Raleigh-Durham area, which is about 60 miles northwest of Faison, recorded one of its three warmest Julys and broke a record for consecutive days (five) at 100 degrees or hotter.


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