How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

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How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are forward crops that can thrive in hot conditions and resistant ones they are grown. This crop does not need high fertility of soil nor even a lot of organic matter for its growth.

Planting of this crop comes later than most of the spring plants which gives you a chance to deal with transplanting first. After sweet potato plants cover the surface, they need less attention apart from just watering them until when they are harvested.

There are so many people who refer sweet potatoes as yams, but that is not right. Sweet potatoes are relatives to morning glory plants. They are roots and not tubers and so cannot even resemble yams. A true yam is a tropical tuber and not morning glory relatives. That is all about. That is all about yams!

One baked sweet potato which is 114 grams contain 185% RDA of vitamin A, 28% the RDA of vitamin C, 100% OF VITAMIN E,  160 calories and a lot of antioxidants. It has no fat.

The main threat to sweet potatoes are deer and are best controlled with guns, dogs, and fences.

Varieties Of Sweet Potatoes:

  1. Georgia jet-This is the modern variety which can grow to maturity in just 90 days
  2. Traditional sweet potatoes- they can be yellow, purple and white
  3. Ornamental sweet potatoes- they are normally used for beauty purposes. You can get some with a fancy cut or heart-shaped leaves
  4. Bunch Porto Ricco- they have short vines, and they are the most suitable for places with less space.

Requirements For The Growth Of Sweet Potatoes

You only need sunshine and warmth to grow sweet potato crops. Fast maturing sweet potato plants require about 1200 growing degree days (GDD) when calculated on a base temperature of 55 degrees F to yield good produce.

Using black plastic mulch, hoophouse or row cover can help to increase the GDD. Day time temperatures of 90 degrees F with 70 degrees F nights.

How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are usually planted two weeks after the last frost. The soil which you use to plant sweet potatoes should reach a temperature of 65 degrees F at a depth of four inches on four consecutive days.

Some prefer to transfer sweet potato slips from the greenhouse when they have grown about two leaves rather than rushing them out to the field.

For the big potatoes, you need to plant the slips vertically. For the average ones but rather large total yields, you need to plant the sweet potato slips horizontally 2-3 inches down the soil. You need to have 3-5 leaf nodes underneath the soil and only the tip outside. This helps to give the plant a second chance to grow if frost strikes it.

If you are planting during a dry season, you need to water the soil first and then leave the soil in the damp compost as you are planting. When planting sweet potatoes, the soil is normally raised to reduce damage during the floods. You can raise the sweet potato hills before you plant the sweet potatoes.

But if you are planting your sweet potatoes in colder areas, you need to use black plastic mulch in order to warm the already formed hills. You need to do that about three weeks before you transfer your sweet potato slips. Using black plastic mulch also increases the rate of growth of the sweet potatoes and also increase the amount of yield.

There are those who have planted sweet potatoes on bare grounds and then used the over-head irrigation system. This is good though as it ensures that plants get adequate water during growth, but the problem is that this type of irrigation of the plant results to the growth of bad weeds around the crop.

Due to the shortcomings of overhead irrigation, most people are now using drip tape for irrigation. The good thing with this type of irrigation is that it results in a few weeds and also reduces the amount of water that goes to waste.

The only difficulty when using drip irrigation is that it is difficult to keep the drip tape on the ridge. Luckily, there is a way. People now plant sweet potato sleeps on the alternate sides of the tape.

These days, people are using ridges, drip tape, and biodegradable plastic mulch and surprisingly, they experience fewer weeds!

Using biodegradable plastic

Biodegradable plastics are good in that they warm the soil and also helps to get higher yields out of sweet potatoes. It also makes the grown weeds to biodegrade after a few weeks and therefore, do not need you to remove the weeds yourself.

Stages of sweet potato development

Your sweet potato plants won’t grow during the first few weeks of transplanting the plant. But that shouldn’t make you to worry. That is the stage of root development. Sweet potato roots can go up to 8 cm down the ground in 40 days. You just need to apply an inch of water per week as it is needed by the plant and then pull the weeds when they appear.

During the second month, the vines start to grow. The roots start to store starch and sugar close to the base of the stem. You will realize that the weeds will stop growing ones the vines cover the ground.

After about three to four months, sweet potatoes start growing, and vines slow down its growth. Unlike the white potatoes, which usually die when the tip stops growing, sweet potatoes do not stop growing, and so you can decide when you want to dig them out before the onset of the cold weather.

The longer you wait before you dig them out, the bigger the potato grows. The problem with waiting is that you cannot be sure of the weather. You need to make ensure that you dig the potatoes out before the temperatures go below 55 degrees F. when this happens, you risk your potatoes being permanently damaged.


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