Francisco Javier Santana, of Viveros Santana:

"The demand for sweet potato plants is huge"

Spring has arrived early this year compared to the previous season. The weather conditions, with mild temperatures and sunny days, are already very suitable for the planting of sweet potatoes. Last year, this was only possible from mid-April due to the abundant rainfall and the cold temperatures, says Francisco Javier Santana, director of Viveros Santana - Plantas de Boniatos.

“The demand for sweet potato plants is very high due to the increase in the product's consumption. In January, 95% of the sweet potatoes from Spain and Portugal (the most important suppliers in Europe) had already been sold. Due to the unfavorable weather conditions in North Carolina, not much sweet potato could be imported during the off-season, and because of the high demand, there is scarcity," says the grower. "Some companies have even brought the product from countries such as Honduras."

Viveros Santana - Plantas de Boniatos was founded in 1976 in Vélez-Málaga, in the Spanish region of Axarquía. The company is currently the largest sweet potato planter in Europe, with more than 25 hectares dedicated exclusively to this crop.

The company has the most popular commercial varieties. Santana says that "until seven years ago, the California was the most sought after variety among European growers, because of the consumers' preference for a sweet taste. Today, the Beauregard is without a doubt the most popular. This variety already accounts for around 80% of the production in Europe. The Beauregard is very versatile in the kitchen, suitable for baking and pureeing, among many other applications. Moreover, it is the variety that is most suitable for storage.

Santana family.

Viveros Santana also has the Jewel of Gergio Jet and the O'Henry varieties. Soon the company will also be the only one in Europe to sell Covington plants. Starting this year, they are also marketing the Pepita variety, a sweet potato with a purple skin and flesh which they have developed themselves. "A few purple varieties were already obtained in the United States years ago, but those are not very productive, suffer problems while in storage and have a low resistance to pests. There is a growing demand for these types of products. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that purple fruits and vegetables offer great health benefits because of their high antioxidant content."

According to Francisco Javier Santana, Spain is still the most important European country when it comes to the cultivation of sweet potatoes, while Portugal is growing at a tremendous pace, especially in the south. The same applies to the Netherlands, where both the acreage and sales have increased considerably over the last three years. "In the past ten years, we have seen an increase in the sale of sweet potato plants. Consumers continue discovering this product."

"Our sweet potato plants are sold across Europe, although we also ship them, to a lesser extent, to African and South American countries. We have the capacity to deliver to any country in the world. Moreover, we offer technical support to growers, especially beginners, to guide them in the cultivation of sweet potatoes. The first time you grow this product, it can be very difficult, but it already becomes fairly easy to do it from the second year on."

For more information:
Francisco Javier Santana
Viveros Santana – Plantas de Boniatos
Carretera de Benamargosa, SN, 
29700 Trapiche, Vélez-Málaga. Spain
T: +34 637 566 441

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