How to harvest sweet potatoes?

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by woodmort, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Okay there has to be someone on here that knows the answer to this. I'm growing them for the first time this year--got slips for a 90 day variety that went in the ground in midMay. They are doing well, growing all over the place but I want to know when I can start harvesting them--don't want to wait til it gets too close to frost but don't want to dig them too early either. Any hints? The place where I got the slips--Johnny's--just said to dig them anytime they are as big as I want them but I don't really know where to find them. I grow regular potatoes and just dig down with my hands by the main stems to steal them when I need them until the vines die then I dig. Not sure when to start on these critters. Thanks.
    Here's what the sweet potato patch looks like.
  2. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap

    I am not sure how to start, but the finishing steps require boxing and shipment to SoCal.
  3. KenK

    KenK Songster

    Jan 23, 2011
    That soil looks nice and soft. I bet you can work them out nice and easy with your hand as you need them without hurting the plants.

    Judging by the vines I bet you have some plenty big enough to eat in there now.
  4. lockedhearts

    lockedhearts It's All About Chicken Math

    Apr 29, 2007
    We planted some two years ago and I was told just to check them after a certain growing time (sorry can't remember how long) I checked a couple and they were small, so I stuck them back in a bit longer.

    Yeah, I know it is not specific info, but if you planted Mid-May, I would think you could check them now.
  5. Okie Amazon

    Okie Amazon Songster

    Mar 22, 2011
    Midwest City
    I'd check them now. When I have grown them, I always just stuck a pitch fork in at the edge of the bed and turned some up.

    (Except for that one year that my Dobermans dug them all up for me!)
  6. lockedhearts

    lockedhearts It's All About Chicken Math

    Apr 29, 2007
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The 90 day thing is just a comparison to other varieties. How long it actually takes depends on your growing conditions. Without looking it up, I guessing you got Beauregards. From memory, those are the most popular 90 day variety. A white 90 day variety I like is O'Henry's. Beauragards are probably what you would buy in the store.

    You can dig down with your hands and try to find them, I call that groveling. You'll find them mostly under the center but some might grow a couple of feet away. Be careful. They are easy to cut since they do grow out away from the center.

    They will probably taste and store better the longer you let them go, but digging down to find out if they are ready and using some is probably a good idea. I don't know what your weather is like. They are a hot weather crop. As long as it stays warm they will grow some, but after the weather cools off, they really slow down. If your weather turns wet, they may start to rot in the ground. That's a good reason to check on them occasionally.

    Dig them before a frost. The vines get frostbitten real easily and immediately turn black. The potatoes start to rot real soon after the vines are frosted on. If you do get a frost, cut the vines immediately and dig them real soon.

    Supposedly, if it is dry during the time the potatoes are setting on and growing, the potatoes will get big. If it is wet, they are more likely to be long and slender. I think that is true but I am not sure.

    Horses, cows, pigs love those sweet potato vines. I expect chickens would too.
  8. Dchicken207

    Dchicken207 Chirping

    Jun 15, 2011
    I grow the same plants as you from johnnys I would wait as long as you can but you can dig them now but they won't be as big as if you waited till october.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  9. Thanks for the info--it is supposed to be wet the rest of the week and in 70's (Lee coming through) so will wait until next week to check them. I've heard how they will start to rot as soon as they get frosted so didn't want to wait for that to happen--have about 3 weeks before it comes though. I guess one of the things I wasn't sure of is where to find the tubers--it seems like they grow down from the main steam as opposed to Irish potatoes which spread out from the center. Guess I have to "grovel" around. BTW, yes they are Beauregards. The other thing is I'm the only one in my family that really likes them(unless my granddaughter is here) so I guess size isn't going to be all that important--one individual serving per tater will be enough.
  10. lockedhearts

    lockedhearts It's All About Chicken Math

    Apr 29, 2007
    Quote:We had a lot of small thin ones, you will be amazed how much "meat" they yield. I washed mine, dried them, then layed them on baking sheets, brushed with a little oil to keep skins from drying out and roasted them in a low oven until they were tender. Once cool, I put them in freezer bags. When I wanted to use some, I thawed, peeled (if neccessary) and used them. This is a great solution if you only need small quantities.

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