Cultural practices such as early planting and delaying harvest are likely to increase yield and economic benefits for sweetpotato producers.
Field studies by researchers from Mississippi State and Louisiana State Universities show that yield increase was inconsistent with delaying harvest, and appears to depend on environmental conditions at harvest late in the season. Results also indicated that marketable yield of the sweetpotato cultivars was consistently greater in early plantings than late plantings.
Using economic assessments, the researchers determined that delaying harvest in early sweetpotato plantings showed a gain in net benefit for both hand harvesting for fresh market and field-run bulk harvesting for processing.
"Growers need to be cognizant of the market demands and adjust their practices accordingly to meet market expectations," the authors said. "Prices received by growers depend on the particular grade and market, and the difference in prices is a factor in the net benefit and marginal rate of return when delaying harvest."
The assessments also revealed that changing plant density resulted in no changes in economic benefit.
Sweetpotatoes are grown primarily for the fresh market, where consumers prefer medium-sized, uniformly shaped products that are free of imperfections. The sweetpotato processing industry, on the other hand, can use product of all sizes. For making sweetpotato fries, for example, large roots are preferred because they are longer and a more consistent fry length than medium-sized sweetpotatoes. Shape is not as critical as it is in the fresh market, and total yield is more important. Consequently, diverse production strategies are necessary to optimize returns.
Source: ASHS HortTechnology
Artwork: Sweet Potatoes Poster