Sweetpotato* (Ipomoea batatas) is a member of the morning glory (Convolvulaceae) family. The sweetpotato is not related to the Irish potato, which belongs to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. Unlike potatoes, which are tubers, sweetpotatoes are roots.
Transplanting conditions are important for success. If poorly rooted slips are planted in sunny, hot conditions, a large number of slips may desiccate and die before roots can establish. It’s best to wait until overcast conditions, and to make sure to water slips in immediately after planting. If slips arrive long before you are able to plant them, place the entire bundle of slips in a pot and pack potting mix loosely around the bundle, and water as any other plant. This ‘heeling in’ can successfully hold slips for a week or more prior to planting.
Harvesting and Storing
Sweetpotato varieties perform very differently, so it’s important to test performance in your situation. Varieties that we have evaluated in New Hampshire include the following:
Beauregard - Orange flesh and copper skin, good flavor. Early, produces high yields. Highly recommended.
Covington - Orange flesh and copper skin, excellent flavor. More uniform shape, higher marketable yields and better flavor than Beauregard. Highly recommended.
Georgia Jet - Orange flesh and rose colored skin. Very susceptible to cracking and storage losses. High yield potential and good flavor. Cracking may depend on moisture level in soil. Not recommended for commercial use.
Japanese - White flesh with purple skin. Unique smooth texture, good flavor. Non-uniform size and shape.
O’Henry and White Yam - White/cream-colored flesh and skin. These are both high yielding, with good flavor. White Yam produces smaller tapered roots, and O’Henry produces larger roots with shape similar to Beauregard.
Carolina Ruby - Deep orange flesh, garnet-colored skin. Skin has unusual rough texture. Moderate yields.
Vardaman - Light orange flesh and skin. Excellent flavor. Produces small slender roots, and low yields.
* in the U.S., sweetpotato is often spelled sweet potato.
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