Fall supplies of sweet potatoes out of North Carolina are looking steady.
“Our supply is on track with where we typically like for it to be at this time of year,” says Rebecca Scott of Nash Produce based in Nashville, NC. She adds that harvest began a few weeks behind schedule due to the reduced rainfall in the region during the growing season. “Thanks to the rain we received this week as well as from Hurricane Dorian last month, the potatoes are sizing up nicely and growers should start wrapping up around Thanksgiving.”
The volume of sweet potatoes this season from North Carolina looks much healthier compared to last year when Hurricane Florence impacted the crop due to the overwhelming amount of rain.
Supplies are coming largely from Southeastern North Carolina, whose climate suits growing the sweet potato. “The presence of sandy soil and hot, humid summers make for a sweeter sweet potato,” says Scott. “But the biggest challenge is Mother Nature. We can’t predict the weather and how it will impact the industry from year-to-year.”
Areas of demand
Meanwhile demand for sweet potatoes continues to come from retail, foodservice and wholesale markets and Scott notes Nash is seeing an increase in demand from all three areas. To increase its options, Nash has expanded its value-added Mr. Yam line to include bulk 40-pound boxes. (Other packaging options from this line already includes individually wrapped microwavable potatoes, steamables and 2, 3, 5, 8 and 10-pound mesh bags of both conventional and organic locally grown sweet potatoes.)
As for pricing, Scott says prices are relatively steady going into the holiday season but pricing is higher than last year at this time.