Small sweet potato

Sweet potato    near Johnstown, PA

I dug out a couple of sweet potatoes yesterday and they are smaller than I expected. First time I've grown them so I guess I don't have the knack yet. How much longer would you recommend leaving them in the ground here in PA? Thanks, Larry

Posted by: Larry Pelenski (4 points) Larry Pelenski
Posted: October 3, 2013

Susan League, UF/IFAS Sumter Program Assistant commented,
How long have the sweet potatoes been planted?
about 7 years ago.


I grew them for the first time this year, too, Larry. Variety Beauregard, supposedly good for short-season growers. I grew them in mounds under black plastic (recycled from a local dairy farmer).

A weird crop, I must say! Many of mine were scrawny as under-developed carrots, though I assume they might have grown larger if they'd had another month (or two) in the ground.

Like yours, the first few I pulled out were pitifully small. But I'd suggest rummaging around for a few more. You may find, as I did, quite a few average-sized sweeties, and a few monsters.

We've found that after curing, even the scrawny ones taste delicious, scrubbed, sliced, tossed in a little oil, and roasted.

Posted by: Peg Boyles (3 points) Peg Boyles
Posted: October 5, 2013

The longer you can leave sweet potatoes in the ground, the better! I plant them in March and usually pull them in November. Unfortunately, you don't have the luxury of such a long season.

Your main problem is that you're growing a hot weather crop from the tropics. They can't take cold weather and won't grow much when it gets cool outside.

If I were in your shoes, I would research short-season sweet potatoes. A lot of the common varieties are unsuitable for your growing zone. Peg is right, though - even the little ones taste good.

The leaves are also good in salads and as a cooked green. I have an article on sweet potatoes here:


Good luck!

Posted by: David Goodman (67 points) David Goodman
Posted: October 9, 2013

The folks at Sand Hill Preservation Center have very good tips on sweet potato growing (including in northern climates) coming from their many years of experience growing in Iowa (and Idaho before that apparently): http://sandhillpreservation.com/pages...

Additionally, some research at Cornell has found bigger higher quality yields in the state of New York with Covington, O’Henry, and Beauregard varieties:

On my farm in Michigan over the last 5 years I've tried a couple dozen varieties. They've all been delicious but we do get plenty of small, stringy, and "carrot-like" yields. Beauregard has definitely been the most consistent in terms of bigger size. I have not tried the Covington and O'Henry varieties above yet.

Posted by: Shannon Brines (1 point) Shannon Brines
Posted: October 16, 2013

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