By Marion Barnes, Senior County Extension Agent
The South Carolina Lowcountry is a wonderful spot to grow sweet potatoes (Ipomea batatas) in the property backyard because of to our lengthy growing time and well drained soil sorts. Sweet potatoes are really wholesome and a excellent supply of fiber, nutritional vitamins, minerals and complex carbohydrates. They are a balanced option to white potatoes, which have a superior glycemic index. Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory plant loved ones (Convolvulacea) and deliver enlarged, edible storage roots. This tropical, warm time plant is a Indigenous American crop and originated from South The us.
The adhering to are a couple of strategies for any one contemplating planting sweet potatoes in the home gardens.
The best possible planting dates for sweet potatoes in the Coastal location of the state are normally April 15 as a result of July 1. Be mindful of late frost that may possibly occur in April to stay clear of freeze hurt.
Web site choice
Sweet potatoes vegetation call for comprehensive sun to acquire completely and need to have to acquire 8 to 10 several hours of sunshine just about every day. Because of to their very long trailing vines, avoid planting them in close proximity to yard plants with upright progress patterns. Taller crops these kinds of as sweet corn can block out sunlight to lessen increasing sweet potato vines.
Soil variety and fertilization
Sandy, or well-drained loamy soils are most effective for developing sweet potato. Compacted soils can negatively affect storage root condition and improvement. Improperly drained and higher clay content material soils can end result in decreased yields and rotted storage roots. Sweet potatoes are tolerant of huge of soil pH ranges, but do finest at 6. to 6.5 soil pH. Good fertilization begins with a soil examination. Foundation fertilization on soil examination success.
Soil preparation, planting and watering
Soil temperatures should be higher than 65 levels F. right before planting. Sweet potatoes are grown from transplants termed “slips”, which are produced from roots of the previous season’s crop. Most gardeners pick to buy slips from garden retailers considering the fact that sweet potatoes for seed are challenging to get and commence. Plant slips on elevated beds, 3 ft apart to permit for early cultivation and weed regulate and 8 to 12 inched apart on the row. Water is especially significant during the transplant, establishment, and root advancement stages. Sweet potatoes call for at minimum 1 inch of h2o (rainfall or irrigation for each week) for standard progress. Often water plants in the morning to minimize incidence of illness. Too much watering in the course of the latter phases of storage root progress can direct to splitting.
Weeds, conditions and bugs
Weed command is most demanding and critical until eventually vegetation include the row. Shallow cultivation is needed to prevent root harm. Several insects and ailments can damage sweet potatoes. Soil borne bugs like wireworms and nematodes are the most common. The guava root-knot nematode thought of a single of the most harming in the earth because of its huge host assortment was identified in commercial sweet potatoes in Darlington County in 2017. The guava root-knot nematode can have an impact on other vegetables like peppers, cucumbers, watermelons and tomatoes crops. The sweet potato weevil is a different major pest, especially to industrial growers and is identified in various counties together the coastline. Buying licensed, disorder cost-free, resistant versions can support cut down the spread of destructive pests.
Harvest, curing and storage
Most sweet potatoes kinds ought to be all set for harvesting about 90 to 120 days soon after planting. Harvest right before frosts neat soil temperatures, which can cut down produce, top quality and storage everyday living. Sweet potato skin is really skinny, so treatment should be taken not to bruise, or damage freshly dug roots when digging and managing. For right curing, air dry sweet potatoes out of immediate sunlight mild at temperatures of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Shop exactly where temperature do not fall under 55 levels Fahrenheit and test for decay or rot usually. Beneath excellent conditions, sweet potatoes can be stored for six or additional months.
Sweet potatoes are a functional southern meals and can be organized and liked in a selection of approaches. If you chose not to improve your own sweet potatoes, there is generally the alternative of visiting your neighborhood farmers current market in the drop and buying them new from our local farmers.
For a lot more information on growing sweet potatoes check out out the Clemson Extension Household and Yard Factsheet HGIC 1322, Sweet Potato at: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/sweet-potato/