Following Hurricane Ida, which landed Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane and has since been downgraded to a tropical depression, sweet potato growers for the most part are waiting to find out what the effects of the weather event are.
In Mississippi, some sweet potato growing areas have received 4+ inches of rain from Ida, even more in some locations. Reports also showed that some fields were under water for a few hours.
While some Mississippi sweet potatoes were set to harvest as early as this week, they may now be delayed by a week to 10 days.
Sylvia Clark of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council says the crop was in the maturing stages with harvest set to begin soon, with some possibly starting up this week before news of the hurricane hit. “Now it’s going to start probably a week to 10 days later than it would have been. Obviously, fields will have to dry before harvest can begin,” she commented. Within a 50-mile radius of Vardaman is where for the most part sweet potatoes are grown in the state. “The rain will have an effect on the crop but at this time we do not know if it will help soften ground and allow for easier harvest or if it will cause a loss of sweet potatoes from water damage.”
She also adds that there was little wind in the North Mississippi area where most potatoes are grown and there wasn't any loss of structures.
“Right now, Mississippi farmers are taking a wait and see approach from storm damage. We are breathing a sigh of relief that this storm was not a more significant event in Mississippi sweet potato growing regions,” says Clark.
Ida's rain is expected to have an effect on the crop.
Louisiana on the other hand seems to have been spared. “Reports on Louisiana sweet potatoes are that there are no issues,” said Matt Garber of Iota, LA-based Garber Farms. “The storm hit a part of Louisiana with no sweet potato production. There are three growing regions for sweet potatoes and none of them were touched anywhere close by the storm.”