Sweet potatoes increasing prices, varieties

08/31/2010 03:17:07 PM
Abbie Stutzer

Dawson Farm’s plants look good too. Its harvest will likely start in September, depending on weather, but no weather or pest issues had arisen as of mid-August.

Garber Farms has experienced an above-average start, but depending on the harvest and volume, it will adjust as the season goes on, Garber said.

Looking to expand

Wooten said his company’s North Carolina sweet potato acreage is up about 20% and the company even plans to branch out into additional counties. The company is already planning ahead for new operations for 2011.

North Carolina had hot weather this year, Wooten said. This year’s yield has yet to be determined.

Garber Farms is continuously growing in the northern and southern portions of Louisiana and is offering more line items out of its facilities.

Production is about the same for Dawson Farms this year but is down in Louisiana.

Wooten said his company has experienced 50% growth this year. Production in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama is the same.

Alabama has started a bit in early in late July, but crews worked half days for a while because of the heat, Wooten said.

Jimmy Burch, owner of Burch Farms, Faison, N.C., said the company is producing bigger and better sweet potatoes. Demand is strong, and the sales are up 21%, he said.

Burch said the North Carolina harvest should be gathered around Labor Day and the Georgia harvest is looking good and was expected to be harvested around the eight of August.

Burch said they have 10% more acreage in general. It should be a lovely crop and prices this year.

Prices

Prices are a little higher this year, Roy said.

Early pricing will be strong because the industry is coming off a short supply year, Garber said.
Roy and Hansen agreed.

In late August, 40-pound cartons of orange U.S. No. 1 grade North carolina sweet potatoes brought $18-19 and U.S. No. 1 petites brought $14. Cartons of U.S. No. 1s from Mississippi brought $19-22, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In early September last year, 40-pound cartons of orange U.S. No. 1 grade sweet potatoes from North Carolina were $15-16 and $11-12 for cartons of U.S. No. 1 petites. The same out of Mississippi ran $17.50-18 for cartons of U.S. No. 1s.

If the sweet potatoes don’t size up, the jumbo market will be even smaller, Wooten said.

Input costs are similar to last year and remain relatively high, Roy said.



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