Growers expect strong crop despite dry weather - The Packer

Growers expect strong crop despite dry weather

10/19/2009 09:16:53 AM
Abbie Stutzer

“It seems that the 2009 crop in North Carolina may have had some challenges, not any major challenges, but I think overall we’ve gotten off to a good start with the growing crop,” said George Wooten, president and owner of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C.

“Fresh-market shipments were up dramatically compared to last year (15.5%).

While some of the increase can be attributed to the loss of Louisiana’s crop due to the hurricane, it does not account for all of the increased volume, Johnson-Langdon said.

Burch Farms has 4,200 acres of sweet potatoes.

Wooten is farming about 2,900 acres.

Kornegay grows 100% covington variety.

Southern Produce Distributors is now carrying the covington variety, which has a nice shape and quality.

“It’s a good eating potato — (it) has a good sugar content. It’s very sweet, and we are gaining back a large part of the market share that we had lost to Louisiana and Mississippi,” Precythe said.

“We were growing beauregards, but in the beginning we had trouble.”

“The covington has really taken off in North Carolina and made us competitive in the marketplace with yield, quality and pricing,” Precythe said.

Wooten grows covingtons, beauregards, a white sweet potato variety called o’henry, and a Asian variety called grand Asian, which is a specialty potato.

Sweet potato prices have been steady during the last decade.

Wood and Kornegay said prices so far are about average but it’s still early in the season.

“I think the year-round cured sweet potatoes have contributed to that (steady prices),” Precythe said.

For the last 10 years, sweet potatoes “have been $12-16, mostly $14-15,” Precythe said.

“That’s a price that the grower can live with, and the shipper can live with, and the consumer can live with.”

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