Fortunately, it doesn’t take a master gardener to determine when you can finally dig up those delicious root veggies, such as sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow but they do need a few things to grow really well. Wait until the tops of the vines have died before you begin harvesting. Take care not to bruise the roots with a hoe, shovel, or other harvesting tool. Whether it is an edible or ornamental sweet potato, flowers are not usually part of the equation. What's the Difference Between a Sweet Potato and a Yam. With sweet potatoes, there is really no sign as to when they are ready like with “white” or “Irish” potatoes when the stems or vines start to die back. This is a good time for harvest. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Let's get together. Be careful to do this in a gentle manner, so that the potatoes do not become damaged by bruising or piercing the skin. When the ground bulges, they are almost ready to harvest. Here, in Virginia, it’s best to harvest sweet potatoes just before the first frost. When the leaves turn slightly yellow they are usually ready to harvest. They love the warm, humid weather in Queensland and produce an abundant harvest. How to harvest. When you first harvest them sweet potatoes are not really sweet and the texture is not ideal. Purple sweet potatoes are fun to grow and cook with. When to harvest sweet potatoes depends largely on the seasonal growing. Here are some key instructions on curing and storing sweet potatoes. You’ll know when your sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow. Watch for the plant foliage to turn yellow. After planting the sweet potato, around 120 days before and after is the harvest proper time. Brush off loose dirt and leave them in the sun for a few hours, then move to a table or shed that is warm and has good air circulation. You love to DIY. Sweet potato storage requires careful curing to prevent mildew and to trigger the formation of sugar producing enzymes. Harvesting Your Sweet Potatoes . In colder areas – some gardeners in Canada have managed to grow sweet potatoes – you’ll need to use season extending techniques in spring for an adequate growth period. It will take sweet potatoes between 90 and 170 days to grow depending on the variety. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. It’s best to stop watering your sweet potatoes 3-4 weeks before harvest. Usually, sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves and ends of the vines have started turning yellow, but you can leave them in the ground up until the fall frost. Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. There are hundreds of different orange sweet potatoes to grow – here are the top five recommended by the experts. For winter storage, it’s best to let the plant and the weather tell you when to harvest potatoes. Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths. There are several different varieties to try. Since it has taken 120 days to harvest, it is important that you reap the entire yield. Most sweet potato varieties are ready to harvest 95 to 120 days after transplanting. Overwinter plants in a frost-free greenhouse or windowsill. Container grown sweet potatoes should be ready for harvest after 150 days and certainly just after a vine killing frost. Store your sweet potatoes in a dry and cool environment (such as a garage or basement). Short on garden space? A good rule of thumb is to watch for the first signs of yellowing leaves. This gives us a growing season of roughly three to four months, or 90 to 120 days. Do Deer Like to Eat Jerusalem Artichokes? With southern gardens, try to keep your potatoes in until 120 days since typically cold nights and frost will not be a problem. Some growers have mixes specifically for northern gardens. Sweet potatoes crop best at temperatures between 21-26°C (70-80°F). Most gardeners wait until the foliage starts to turn yellow or after … You should cure your sweet potatoes before storage. Watch the weather report and harvest your sweet potatoes when the night time temperatures start to dip into the 40s to 30s to ensure that none of your crop is lost to frost. When the sweet potato leaves turn yellow, growth has stopped and the roots have matured. If your sweet potatoes were grown in a container, simply dump your container into awheel barrow, cardboard on the ground or garbage bag this makes for easy cleanup. Try to reserve some of your sweet potatoes for creating slips in your future garden. Sweet potatoes should be side dressed with additional nitrogen fertilizer in early July for optimum vine growth and tuber sizing. But smaller tubers—called “baby bakers”—can be lifted sooner if they are big enough to eat. This gives them time to harvest before the first frost, so the potatoes are in storage as the weather turns cool. Watch the weather report and harvest your sweet potatoes when the night time temperatures start to dip into the 40s to 30s to ensure that none of your crop is lost to frost. Temperatures of both the air and soil should also factor into when to dig. It’s easy to tell when tomatoes and peppers are ripe, but those hidden wonders developing under the ground don’t scream "harvest time" like other vegetables do. Sweet potatoes will continue to grow and produce until frost or freeze stops them. A good rule of thumb is to watch for the first signs of yellowing leaves. When to harvest sweet potatoes will depend on the cultivar that you purchased. Most varieties of sweet potato take around 100 days to go from planting to harvest. Typically, most varieties will take about three to four months to mature – about 90 to 120 days, but there are some newer varieties that take less time and bred specifically for northern climates (such as Georgia Jet, Vardaman, Centennial). The mystery of the sweet potato origins continues with each hemisphere arguing that this delicious food crop belongs to them. Well, it is a process that takes anywhere from 4-14 days. The longer you are able to keep the plants in the ground, the larger and more numerousyour harvest will be. Sometimes, you can’t do much about this if Mother Nature is the culprit. If you have a shorter growing season, your potatoes may be smaller in size, but will still have the same wonderful taste as larger spuds. A close relative of morning glory, these nutritious veggies originate in the tropics. Ideal conditions are the same as for winter squash—just slightly cool (55 to 60 degrees) and with a moderate relative humidity (60 to 75 percent). You'll be happy to know sweet potatoes can be grown in containers. This way, you will not have to keep purchasing slips year after year, but save seed from your garden to grow for future harvest. Sweet potatoes can last six months or more in storage, if held properly. Don't be in a rush to harvest sweet potatoes, the longer they are in frost free ground the larger the tubers will grow. Then the area is kept at about 90% humidity. Harvest sweet potatoes the morning after a frost if you have waited too long. Download a printer-friendly version of this page: Growing Swee… Sweet potatoes are versatile tubers that have fewer calories than traditional potatoes and are a perfect stand in for that starchy vegetable. Keeping in mind that the longer you keep them in the ground the … Find solutions for sourcing organic sweet potato slips and fertilizing with naturally derived nutrients. When receiving your slips, it is important to read the packing. She has also written for various online publications. Although you should have harvested them earlier, you can still salvage the crop. The most common tool for digging sweet potatoes out of the ground is a spade fork, although a shovel will work, and the ambitious harvester can even adapt a broad fork to dig more plants at one time. Now that we know that curing is what makes sweet potatoes sweet, you may be wondering what curing actually is. If you’re further north, you’ll want to do the same thing; harvest your sweet potatoes as late as possible. Once you have harvested all your sweet potatoes, it is time to cure them. The first is well dug, compost rich soil, and they need drainage. Letting them cure for two months is said to enhance their flavor, but it can be hard to wait that amount of time especially if you love sweet potatoes. This allows some of the starch in the roots to convert to sugar. Here in the South, in zone 7b I start sweet potato slips indoors in March and plant them in the garden in mid-May after all danger of frost is gone and the soil has had enough time to warm up a bit.. Potatoes are tubers and you want your plant to store as much of that flavorful starch as possible. © 2021 Discovery or its subsidiaries and affiliates. About 4 months after planting sweet potato slips, you can dig up a few and see how large they’ve grown. The best of a new harvest will usually come along in November, 3 or 4 months after planting. After harvesting, store the sweet potatoes in a box in a warm room. To help increase their sweetness, place harvested sweet potatoes in a dark, warm room for at least two weeks before eating. Typically, sweet potatoes are grown from purchased slips, but it’s possible to root a store-bought sweet potato, as well. Then sift through with your hand to retrieve all your potatoes. If you planted sweet potatoes this summer, it's time to harvest them—and there's another step you need to take before you bring them into the kitchen. Sweet potatoes are fully mature at this point and you should harvest them before the first frost. Sweet potatoes are the tuberous roots of a beautiful perennial vine. When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes… Sweet potatoes need a long growing season. The sweet potato root has a delicate skin that is easily bruised at harvest. Beauregard is one of the world’s most popular sweet potatoes. Since the roots spread 4 to 6 inches deep in the soil, a spade fork is useful when digging up the potatoes. They do not fare well in the sun. There are over 400 different sweet potato varieties around the world, figure out which is best for your garden. Harvest sweet potatoes before the vines are touched by frost. The foliage of the plants tends to spread out a lot and it's best to pinch out the growing tips when the stems reach 60cm / 2ft long to keep them tidy and encourage side shoots. If the growing season has been good with adequate water and sunshine, harvesting sweet potatoes should begin about 100-110 days after planting depending on the variety. Most gardeners in warmer climates, like USDA Zones 8 and 9, usually try to time the harvest for September or October. Can I Harvest Sweet Potatoes in a Cold Climate? Even dropping the potatoes into a harvest bucket will injure the skin. Sweet potatoes form a lush mat of vining growth, and their tubers form underground, so it can be hard to know when to harvest sweet potatoes. Slips or Store Bought Potatoes. Sweet potato varieties are ready to harvest 95 to 120 days after planting in the garden. Although you should have harvested them earlier, you can still salvage the crop. Gently dig up with a garden fork and allow drying and curing for 10 days, ideally in an area with a temperature of 80-85 F. (27-29 C.) (possibly near … Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online. Frost can damage the tubers below. Keep greenhouse plants well watered, and feed every other week with a high-potassium liquid feed. Examine the ground for bulges about 90 to 100 days after planting sweet potatoes. That’s perfect for most sweets. Learn the basics about growing sweet potatoes and their origin. Because they have thin skins sweet potatoes are easily damaged during harvest so extra care should be taken. If the growing season has been good with adequate water and sunshine, harvesting sweet potatoes should begin about 100-110 days after planting depending on the variety. It offers high-yield and disease-resistance. In the Mid-Atlantic, sweet potatoes are typically harvested from early September until the end of October. Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more. Sweet potatoes are always a favorite on the holiday dinner table. For home gardeners, the best time to harvest sweet potatoes is immediately before or just after the first fall frost. I let them be and not harvest until the end of October. The longer you are able to keep the plants in the ground, the larger and more numerousyour harvest will be. You can also harvest sweet potatoes earlier than this, when they are slightly immature. Plant. Much below 55 degrees and sweet potatoes (similar to winter squash) will suffer chilling injury. Sweet potatoes can be harvested when roots are 1½ to 2 inches thick. It will be nearly four months before your sweet potatoes are ready to harvest. Sweet potatoes are best grown from cuttings, which are not, in fact, rooted and technically called 'slips'. Using a shovel or a pitchfork, gently lift the soil. Because Annoimo is more difficult to control temperature than ordinary sweet potatoes, I wanted to harvest it when a sunny day is keeping much as possible. You can have homegrown tubers for months past the growing season if you know how to store sweet potatoes after harvest. Harvest sweet potatoes the morning after a frost if you have waited too long. If you have enough warning, though, try draping a heavy-weight garden fabric over your sweet potato bed before the rain starts, and remove it once the downpour has let up. Or you can wait until just before your first frost and harvest them then. All rights reserved. Simply wait it out and look out for a couple of signs and you’ll soon be eating a sweet potato pie. Sweet potatoes aren’t finicky about the texture of the ground they grow in, but if your soil is full of rocks and clumps, you may end up with oddly shaped potatoes at the end of the season. When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes When to harvest sweet potatoes depends largely on the seasonal growing. Harvest sweet potatoes on a cloudy day. Gardeners in North Carolina, the biggest sweet potato-producing state, time their plantings so the roots will mature by late September and early October. We love to DIY. However, it is important to harvest your sweet potatoes prior to any frost or freeze. National Gardening Association: Harvesting Sweet Potatoes, Harvest to Table: How to Grow Sweet Potatoes. It is where the sweet potatoes are placed in a hot environment that the temperature hangs somewhere between 80-85°F. By producing your own you save money and of course they taste better! M ost sweet potatoes take roughly 100 days of growth to mature. Learn when and how to harvest and cure sweet potatoes to enjoy during the winter months. When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes. Digging your sweet potatoes up is extremely easy, but will take some heavy lifting and back muscle. 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