Sweet Potatoes a Mess

vgkg(Z-7)August 27, 2013

I'm guessing it's the extreme rain we've had this summer but I dug up the first sweet potatoes yesterday and 80% are so knarly and cracked/split open they remind me of the old style pineapple hand grenades. Mostly useless for baking but some can be salvaged for dicing up into baked dishes. Other than blaming it on the excessive rains what could possible be done if anything to prevent this damage?

The pic below isn't one of mine, actually this pic looks good compared to mine.

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sweetquietplace(6 WNC Mtn.)

Oh darn...that's a shame. It's been such a miserable growing season. I'll be digging my sweet potatoes in another month. Hope growing them in a raised garden has saved them from a similar fate. Fingers and toes crossed.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:21AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

It may be somewhat varietial.....for this year with your weather. Last year I had a few Cenntenial and they were bad like that while the O'Henrys were much clearer.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:52AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Inconsistent watering throughout the season doesn't help. We have had a drought, then into floods, now back to dry. During this time I have kept my sweet potatoes very wet, so when the rains came, they didn't try to rapidly grow and crack and split.

I haven't dug any up to see if it worked, but I am hopeful. Variety also has lots to do with it. Georgia Jet is one of the worst. I planted a bunch (100) Cenntenials I hope they aren't all split.

Jay

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:00PM
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florauk(8/9)

Hi vgkg - long time no see!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 4:16PM
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pnbrown

I agree that variety seems to have a lot to do with it.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 7:11AM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Hi Florauk! oddly since retiring 4 years ago my time here is too brief to cover the GW bases, esp during the growing season. I goofed off more here when I worked for a living ;o)

Ugh....Jay, Wayne, Pat, I think you nailed it. I am growing Georgia Jets, I love the sweetness but not the cracking. Have saved the slips annually from GJ's that I bought several years ago. Also like Red Jewels but can't seem to find them easily, maybe they're just as bad at cracking as GJs as they seem very similar to each other? I tried and liked Vardeman years ago but those grew too long and slender for me. Any suggestions for a good shaped sweet tasting variety that resists cracking? We prefer orange over yellows. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 11:00AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Beauregards grew nicely for me, but i prefer a really nice yellow.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 1:21PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Beauregards grew nicely for me, but i prefer a really nice yellow.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 1:22PM
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planatus(6)

When I saw the pic I knew they were Georgia Jets, famous for producing lunkers (that's actually the word for them). Beauregard and Covington just don't do that, and grow almost as fast.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:39AM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Thanks for the Beauregard advice guys, might have to give the yellows another try too Wayne but this time with a blindfold ;) My Ga Jets are sure Lunkers alright. I still have 2 more rows to dig up and it rained another inch, ugh. It won't be any fun exhuming these next 2 rows of "Zombie Sweets"!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 5:14PM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Update :

As previously reported the first 2 rows of SPs that I dug up 2 months ago were a 90% lunker mess. So I left 1 row in-ground to see what happens. Due to a predicted freeze tonite I dug them up yesterday and to my delight there were more good ones than lunkers present. Waiting 2 more months set more new potatoes which came out nicely shaped and good bakers. The older lunkers were still ugly as hell (a few as big as my head) but by waiting longer I got more good ones than bad ones. The only drawback is that the new potatoes grew from the sprawling vines and were tricky to locate without damaging by digging.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 10:42AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Hi, vgkg. I made an error ...actually 2 on my sweets this year. I ended up with a lot of skurf. It is a brownish black on the outside skin. It is a fugal growth. Underneath they are fully edible for a short time, but tend to decay some after a while.

What causes skurf is [1] Too much water
. . [2) Too much recent organic matter

I was guilty on both counts...no goodies or water for you guys next year.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 12:31PM
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sweetquietplace(6 WNC Mtn.)

I finally got a decent harvest of sweet potatoes this season after years of trying. I'm convinced what made the difference was all the sand I added to my organic-rich garden soil...probably 50/50.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 1:32PM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Hi Wayne, my soil here is mostly gray & orange clay but with a good 6" cover of black topsoil. Never had a rot problem even though it's been a very wet year. Last week while shopping at Whole Foods I picked up 2 SP varieties to save for slips next year ( Jewel Sweet & Red Garnet). Will also get Beauregard slips next spring from local nursery. Haven't seen any yellow SPs at the market yet. My present Ga Jets are good tasting but I want to leave the lunkers behind.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 1:51PM
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pnbrown

For me Beauregard is inferior eating quality. It is hard to beat for productivity in the marginal climates, though Korean Purple makes about as well and is so much better-tasting.

I wish my florida relatives would maintain some deep-south cultivars, like Nancy Hall.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 4:16PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

pat, I have raised Nancy Hall many times. It can be a good tasting tuber, but O'Henry makes a better tuber that is smoother inside and out.

You can get many of the varieties from Steele Plant Co. in Tennessee. They ship reliably just about to the day for your area.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 5:26PM
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fusion_power

Covington and Mahan are my success stories. Vgkg, please look for these two. They are far better than Beauregard.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:01PM
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pnbrown

Wayne, I guess you have a much hotter longer summer there (heat zone 3 or 4 here). Still, I'd like to try o'henry.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:54PM
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vgkg(Z-7)

PN & Fusion, thanks for steering me clear of Beauregards as I'd much rather have good tasting really sweet potatoes. Beauregards are the mainstay at nurseries around here in Spring, they must be like hybrid tomatoes - look great, easy growing, but taste bland?

Wayne, thanks for the tip on suppliers too. I'll also continue to scan the produce sections of stores here while the harvest iron is hot. Of the 2 I've already bought the Jewel Sweets are sweeter than the Red Garnets. I had never heard of either one till seeing them at the market. But then again sweetness has a lot to do with growing conditions and soil types.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 10:02AM
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