Mary's Veggie Garden

October 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Harvest

Filed under: Gardening,Sweet Potatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 1:43 pm

During the last week of Sept. I harvested my sweet potatoes. This was about two weeks earlier than I usually harvest. September was cool, with over night temperatures frequently in the low forties. I was afraid we’d get an early frost, forcing me to dig them all at once. And I wasn’t wrong: on 9/23 the official overnight low was 36° F but at the community gardens it was cold enough to blacken the top layer of sweet potato leaves. Another reason for digging earlier: last year my Purple SPs were huge and I wanted to harvest while they were a more manageable size.

I dug and I dug and I dug, unearthing almost 90 pounds over five days. Do you think I planted to many slips? I hadn’t planned to plant that many, just 4 slips each of 5 varieties. But then I got an extra plot at the community garden and needed something that would cover a lot of soil without much effort. My mother SPs were still producing slips, so in went another eighteen slips.

Sweet Potato Varieties

L - Laceleaf x pounds, R- Frazier White - x pounds

L – Laceleaf 5.9 pounds, R- Frazier White – 6.2 pounds

Laceleaf is named for its deeply cut leaf. The interior is pale orange. It’s roots are often twisted.

Frazier White is white inside and out. it is very sweet and somewhat dry when baked. Notice the damage on the FW SPs in the top right. I don’t know what does the damage, but whatever it is likes Frazier White almost as much as Georgia Jets.

Gerogia Jets x pounds

Gerogia Jets 11 pounds

Georgia Jets are the ugliest sweet potatoes I’ve grown. I’ve been growing them for several years and they can get huge and twisted. This batch isn’t too bad: some have split and healed, some have cracks which are turning black (I’ll peel & cook those first). They have the same insect/rodent damage as on the Frazier White. Of course I managed to fork one of the best Georgia Jets. Baked in their skins, Georgia Jets are very sweet, moist and soft. If you need mashed sweet potato for a recipe, Georgia Jets are a good choice.

Korean Purple

Korean Purple 8.2 pounds

Korean Purple are the prettiest sweet potatoes I grow. The skin is amethyst and the flesh white. You can see some white where I’ve scratched a couple during digging. Korean Purple sweet potatoes grow straight and long and they suffered minimal insect/rodent damage despite growing with Frazier White on both sides. Korean Purple is very, very sweet with a flavor that reminds me of marshmallows.

Purple pounds

Purple 18 pounds

Purple sweet potatoes are purple through and through when baked in their skins. They are the least sweet of all the varieties and their taste has an undertone of sharpness. When I tried to describe the taste while munching one at supper yesterday I had to say they ‘tasted purple.’ (I know that is not helpful.) Purple stays firm during cooking.

An Experiment: does planting 10 days (or more) later effect yield?

The two plantings produced an inadvertent experiment: does planting 10 or 15 days later have any effect on yield? I grow only varieties that should mature roots in a short growing season. Poughkeepsie, NY gets about 100 days of summer weather.

I must admit that there were differences other than time of planting. My early SP bed was pre-warmed for several weeks with black plastic. It had a better soaker hose arrangement and was watered more frequently. Nevertheless, the results show the roots grew equally well in a 6/1 or 6/10 planting but planting 6/15 or later hurt yield.

Most of the slips in the late planting were planted June 10. The exceptions were 2 Purple slips planted 6/15 and all the Korean Purple: one planted 6/15 and three on 6/20.

late yield/slip yield/slip Variety
Variety 6/1 planting planting 6/1 planting late planting Total
Frazier White 6.2 3.7 1.6 1.8 9.9
Georgia Jets 11.0 12.1 2.8 3.0 23.1
Korean Purple 8.2 5.8 2.0 1.4 13.9
Laceleaf 5.9 5.7 1.5 1.4 11.6
Purple 18.0 13.3 4.5 3.3 31.3
Planting total 49.3 40.4 89.7

Note: there were only 2 Frazier white slips in the late planting.

Results: There was little difference in yield per slip between the two plantings of Frazier White, Georgia Jets, and Laceleaf, with perhaps a slight advantage for the 6/10 planting. However pushing the planting date out to 6/15 and later definitely affected the Purple and Korean Purple yield.

Korean Purple sweet potatoes from late June planting.

Korean Purple sweet potatoes from late June planting.

This picture is my entire harvest from the late planted Korean Purple. The left bunch was planted 6/15, the others 6/20. There are lots of sweet potatoes, but they definitely needed more time to develop. Compare these to the KP in the earlier picture.

Yield Ranking:

  1. Purple
  2. Georgia Jets
  3. Korean Purple
  4. Frazier White
  5. Laceleaf

This is similar to my results in 2012.


  1. What a difference a few days make.

    Comment by Norma Chang — October 7, 2013 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  2. What beautiful sweet potatoes! I have never grown them, but as I see your and other gardeners’ beauties, I more and more want to try some.

    Comment by Patsy — October 7, 2013 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

    • We are in roughly the same climate zone, you should be able to grow any of these varieties.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — October 7, 2013 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  3. Purple is one of my favorite sweet potatoes. The insects don’t attack it as much as the orange ones. And I love the taste. I don’t think of them as being sharp though. I don’t think I could describe the difference. Maybe if I had them side by side.

    Comment by Daphne — October 7, 2013 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  4. What a wonderful harvest of sweet potatoes. Interesting that yield is reduced significantly when planting 10-days later. At least now you have a planting window to plan for next time.

    Comment by GrafixMuse — October 7, 2013 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

    • Around here it can be really hot the last week of June so it’s probably best to have well rooted slips by then so they can take advantage of the heat. So my planting window is June 1 – 10. I planted all the sweet potatoes at Locust Grove about a week earlier than my own and the yield at Locust Grove was probably less than mine. (Norma at Gardentowok featured the LG SPs this week.)

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — October 7, 2013 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

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