[Image: harvest sweet potatoes]
News Release Distributed 10/31/13
CHASE, La. – Sweet potatoes are common on the Thanksgiving dinner table, but now this fall favorite is consumed year-round. Sweet potato farmers are busy getting this year’s crop out of the ground.
LSU AgCenter sweet potato specialist Mavis Finger said the yield so far is average, and the quality is good.
“A cool wet spring delayed planting statewide, but we saw ideal weather conditions during planting and the early growing season,” Finger said.
Because of the delay, the potatoes are smaller. Finger says growers are harvesting a lot of No. 1 potatoes, which is the premium grade, but not as many jumbo potatoes used for processing.
“For the fresh market that is ideal,” Finger said. “The processing sector would like bigger sweet potatoes, but the fresh market will be very happy this year.”
Finger said the variety Beauregard is still the main sweet potato grown in Louisiana. Acreage also includes two new varieties, Orleans and LA 07-146. And the latter is out-producing Beauregard.
“With LA 07-146, on average, we see about a 15-20 percent increase in yield as compared to Beauregard, which is the industry standard.”
Finger said LA 07-146 will go to the processing sector because of the red color of the potato skin. The industry is concerned that consumers won’t buy the red-skinned sweet potatoes in the supermarket, even though the flesh is sweeter than Beauregard. Finger said it may take time for consumers to accept a different type of sweet potato.
Louisiana has about 7,500 acres of sweet potatoes. This is a 25 percent reduction in acreage from last year.