North Carolina sweet potatoes running later, less volume

10/16/2013 09:33:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

“The shape and quality look good,” he said in early October.

“We just have low numbers. The first ones out of the ground seem a bit light and the yields are off 15% to 20%, but it may pick up. We will have adequate supplies for Thanksgiving. Retailers can definitely expect higher prices for Thanksgiving.”

The 30 growers that Nash Produce Co. packs for began harvesting Sept. 17, about two weeks later than normal, said Thomas Joyner, general manager of the Nashville, N.C.-based operation.

“I would anticipate good quality sweet potatoes out of North Carolina,” he said in early October.

“Sizings are still small and yields are a little lower than what we have seen over the past few years. We are hopeful that improves but are very fortunate we have a good quality crop.”

Nash plans to begin shipping new crop cured potatoes in late October.

Vick Family Farms, Wilson, N.C., began harvesting Sept. 10.

“Quality looks excellent,” Charlotte Vick, partner, said in early October.

“Though growing conditions were not that great at first, yields and quality are much better than originally expected.”

The smaller sizing means higher prices for jumbos, said Jimmy Burch, co-owner of Burch Farms, Faison, N.C.

“Quality is very nice,” he said in early October.

“It will only be a smaller size profile. Last year, we gave away jumbos the whole deal, which sold for $5-6. This year, we’re getting $9-10, where the price needs to be.”

In early October, the USDA reported movement of old-crop potatoes continuing to decrease as some shippers were finishing with their 2012 crop inventories and transitioning to the 2013 crop.

The USDA reported these prices for 40-pound boxes of old-crop orange variety sweet potatoes from eastern North Carolina: $16-18 for No. 1s; $12-14 for U.S. No. 1 petites; $8-9 for U.S. No. 2s; and $9-10 for no grade marks jumbos.

Last year in late October during the first season report of new cured crop potatoes, the USDA reported $13-15 for the No. 1s.

North Carolina growers typically finish harvesting by Nov. 15.


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