Good weather makes for clean sweet potato crop

Favorable weather conditions throughout this year's North Carolina sweet potato season have resulted in a crop with good, consistent quality. Though production numbers are not yet available, it's expected that supplies for this year will meet the rising demand for sweet potatoes domestically and abroad.

Although this year's sweet potato acreage was 8 percent lower than the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate at the beginning of the season, favorable weather made up for that, said Sue Johnson-Langon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.

“Excellent weather conditions during summer's growing season and autumn's harvest produced an increase in marketable yields,” she said. Though sweet potatoes are available year-round because they store very well, the harvest period is from middle of August until the beginning of November, and clear weather during that period made up for reduced acreage as well as providing a very consistent crop.

“Because of the environmental conditions this year where we had no drought and we had adequate, timely showers, we produced a more consistent crop in shape, sizing and yields,” added Johnson-Langdon. With consistent production, there will be enough supplies to meet the rising demand.

“Per capita consumption of sweet potatoes in the United States has risen from five to seven pounds in the last five years,” noted Johnson-Langdon. “North Carolina has kept pace with the rising demand and we're confident that the 2012 crop will keep pace with marketplace demand.”

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