2017 Sweet Potato Harvest

Sweet Potato Harvest. CobraHead Test Gardens. Cambridge, Wisconsin.

Sweet Potato Harvest

We harvested 89 pounds of sweet potatoes yesterday. That’s not a record, but it’s well above our normal yield, and we’re happy with the results. Our average sweet potato yield is about 80 pounds per bed.  We grow a variety named Jewel (sometimes spelled Jewell).  We’ve been growing Jewel from our own starts for over 10 years and we find it excellent for both yield and long-term storage, and they taste great, too!

Empty Bed. CobraHead Test Gardens. Cambridge, Wisconsin.

Empty Bed

The potatoes were grown in this very clayey bed.

Sweet Potato Vines. CobraHead Test Gardens. Cambridge, Wisconsin.

Sweet Potato Vines

For harvesting, we first removed all the vines and the black plastic sheet which covered the bed and acted as a solar collector to heat up the soil.

18 Harvested Sweet Potato Plants. CobraHead Test Gardens. Cambridge, Wisconsin.

18 Harvested Sweet Potato Plants

Here are the 18 harvested plants.

Vole Damage. CobraHead Test Gardens. Cambridge, Wisconsin.

Vole Damage

More Vole Damage. CobraHead Test Gardens. Cambridge, Wisconsin.

More Vole Damage

The forecast is for warm temperatures for the next ten days, but I had to harvest now because I noticed some vole damage on one of the potatoes when I checked under the plastic, two days ago. Any increase in yields we might have gotten for leaving them in the ground longer could have been easily offset by damage from these little varmints.

Fortunately the damage was limited to two plants and was not significant. I found a nest under the plastic, but no voles.

We trimmed up the roots before we weighed them and wheeled them to the house for a two week curing on the kitchen table.

After two weeks in the kitchen, we’ll wrap the larger potatoes in newspaper and store them in the basement. We will be able to enjoy our harvest all year long.


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4 Responses to “2017 Sweet Potato Harvest”

  1. Pam Seiler says:

    I read with much interest your article on sweet potatoes. My husband and I have raised sweet potatoes since 2012, which was the year of very hot temperatures that summer. At that point we had always ordered our roots from Jungs. When they arrived the roots were bone dry and a couple of times we had to re-order. Then a couple years ago we noticed our Ace Hardware selling the Beauregard roots. Not good success. All that said…..after reading on line about rooting sweet potatoes, do you have any trade secrets for success in doing this? Out of a dozen plants we got maybe 30 pounds. We love ’em.

  2. Noel says:

    Pam, if you are in the northern US, I highly recommend a sweet potato variety called Jewel (or Jewell). I have published several blogs on starting sweet potatoes. Just search our blog for “sweet potato starts”. It’s easy. You can start with new sweet potatoes in January, or if you can keep one or two good potatoes from your yield, they will sprout after about a year plus and the sprouts are easy to pot off and plant and they will be more vigorous than most store-bought slips. The sprouted potatoes feed themselves from the root so live spouts remain available for well over a year and they are ready when you want them in late spring.

  3. Pam Seiler says:

    Hubby and I live in Sauk City.
    Did I read correctly that sprouting a sweet potato takes a year? Our soil here is clay as well. We have decided to fallow the garden patch we have on the far east end of our property and use only the patch which is behind our home. We have enhanced the soil for a number of years using grass clippings, leaves and during the 2 years that I worked at a local restaurant I was bringing home buckets of egg shells, lettuce, and other vegetable matter. The soil has gotten much better. We also had vole problems plus the deer yanked out two of the plants and Steve stuck them back into the ground. We are hoping for a better year next year.

  4. Noel says:

    Sprouting a whole sweet potato in water or warm and moist soil will produce sprouts in several weeks. However, a sweet potato stored in a dark, dry, soiless, environment will only sprout after about a year. These sprouts can live off the parent for a long time before all the nutrition is depleted, so they make an ideal transplant source. They are easy to root off once they are removed and re-planted. I don’t have a good answer for voles. Cats help. A lot of mouse traps would probably work, too. Deer love sweet potato leaves and will usually go for them over most other plants.