Having gone untouched by Hurricane Ida that recently moved through Louisiana, the state’s sweet potato growers are enjoying a quiet year.
“It’s been an uneventful year so we’re just keeping things steady,” says Matt Garber of Iota, LA-based Garber Farms. “We’ve seen enough changes and additions over the last 10 years.”
Garber farms, which is located between Bayou Nezpique and Bayou Des Cannes in South Louisiana's Cajun Country, is looking ahead to its 2021 sweet potato crop. “It will be harvested in the middle of September. And it is a little bit later this year because the planting was delayed,” says Garber. “It was too wet to plant at the usual time.”
Overall acreage is similar to last year. “The crop looks good this year. There’s been nothing to negatively affect it yet and it’s been an ideal growing season so far,” says Garber.
Good demand anticipated
As for demand, Garber believes the 2021 crop will meet strong demand. “Every year demand seems to be there. I didn’t see much slowdown on demand when the restaurants closed so I’m not sure what to expect for demand now that they’re open. Demand is still strong,” he says.
Continued increasing interest in sweet potatoes is also being seen thanks to industry developments--from making sweet potatoes more accessible by offering them in steamer packs, fries, pre-cut packs and more--as well as continued work on offering different colors of sweet potatoes.
However in the meantime, Garber and other growers contend with challenges around costs. “The cost of everything is up. Everything and anything we’re buying for the farm is expensive and harder to get,” he says.