Best Sweet Potato Harvest Ever!

Six Pounds From One Plant

With frost forecast for later this week and knowing that I would be out of town, I decided to harvest my sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes cannot tolerate frost, so I did not want to take a chance on losing any of my crop.

Sweet Potatoes Ready to Harvest

I had previously put a clear plastic cover over the bed as we had some nippy temperatures a week ago.  The leaves under the plastic were already showing black from the previous frost and wilting badly, so I didn’t think I would lose anything by pulling the plants out, now.

Vines Cut Off Using Pruning Loppers

I figured out several seasons ago that the easiest approach to harvesting is to remove all the vines at once.  I cut them off using pruning loppers.  It’s then very easy to lift off the protective black plastic and start harvesting.

A Plastic Ring Protects the Vines

I knew a good harvest was in store when I saw several big spuds protruding from the soil.  The plastic ring in the picture is placed around the sweet potato start when it is first planted in late May.  The ring protects the start from wind and insect damage and also keeps the black plastic cover from accidentally covering up or damaging the start.  It also makes it very easy to water the small plants.  I think it’s a great aid to getting the plants established without problems.

Using the CobraHead to Help Harvest

Sweet Potatoes are exceptionally delicate when they are first harvested.  It’s easy to snap them in half and even easier to accidentally  scar their skin with digging tools.  I use a garden fork to loosen up the soil around them, but the final dig out is accomplished with the CobraHead.  These potatoes are growing in really hard clay and even though I’ve worked in a lot of straw and compost to soften it up, it still packs tight.  The CobraHead lets me dig around and under the plants to get them loose with a minimal amount of damage.

A Bountiful Harvest That Will Last A Year

Here is most of the harvest.  The yield was over 82 pounds of good, usable sweet potatoes.  That’s over a 4.5 pound per plant average yield.  I had one plant that weighed over seven pounds.  I read online that the agricultural average is 2.5 pounds per plant on the high side, so we did okay.

I’ve since moved all these potatoes onto the kitchen floor where they are laid out on newspapers to dry.  After two weeks of drying, we’ll wrap each larger and medium sized spud in newspaper and store it in the basement.  We use the little ones up first.  We’ve easily gotten sweet potatoes to last a year in storage.  Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious plants one can eat.  Growing a crop that lasts a year in easy storage conditions, is good to eat, and is good for you makes a lot of sense for the home grower.

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4 Responses to “Best Sweet Potato Harvest Ever!”

  1. Paul says:

    I have beauregard sweet potatoes in my back yard organic garden, that I planted on June 1st, 2012. According to the calendar, they are supposed to be mature as of the 4th of October. I have heard that they are ready to harvest when the leaves begin to turn brown. Is that true? When I think brown, I think laying on the ground brown! Or is it supposed to be just when the leaves are no longer that lush green color? I sure don’t want to dig them up too soon, if there are any at all. The vines covered a patch 4 feet wide by 20 feet long, so I’m really hoping for some sweet potatoes! There were 7 plants originally. I know the chance for skinny potatoes is pretty high, but never having grown them before, it’s all a good learning experience.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

  2. Noel says:

    If you are in a northern climate, try leaving the potatoes in the ground until the first hard frosts. As long as the leaves are green, the tubers are still growing. The leaves are very susceptible to frost damage, however, so you have to pay attention. You do not want to leave potatoes in the ground with frost damaged leaves. And you do not want to let the potatoes get frost damaged. That can ruin the crop. I cover my bed with clear plastic to try to get some extra time, but when I know a hard freeze is coming, I try to harvest ahead of that.

  3. John Schlachter says:

    Grew Beauregard SP’s this year and my biggest weighed 3 lbs 12 oz. This was grown in a community garden plot where is available to all the gardeners. Had several SP’s that were over 2 lbs. It was nice to see my rewards at the end of the season.

    Found a few receipts on-line for SP Bread. They all taste good.

    Keep growing.

    John

  4. Noel says:

    Sweet potatoes are a wonderful and versatile plant.
    Noel