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Too early to discuss impact of Hurricane Matthew on potatoes in storage

Sweet potato consumption doubled in past 15 years

Due to Hurricane Matthew, North Carolina received a lot of water in a short amount of time last month. Matthew came at a time when the state’s sweet potato harvest was in full swing. “We had 50-55 percent of our crop out of the field when it started to flood,” says Jeff Thomas with Scott Farms. “We waited a full week before we got back in the field to continue the harvest. I estimate our damage to be about 5 percent of our crop and we are fortunate not to have a great amount of damage.” Some farmers further south experienced higher losses. “All damage is water related,” continued Thomas. “The ground got so saturated that some potatoes were lost in the field.” Scott Farms finished its harvest about 10 days ago.

Planted acreage up
“The quality and consistency of the crop look very promising, but it is still early to tell how the potatoes will do in storage after they had to absorb so much water.” This year, planted acreage was up from last year in response to increased demand. Extreme rainfall caused reduced yields and Thomas expects total production levels to be similar to last year. “I don’t expect this year’s market to be different,” he added.

Offices in the UK and the Netherlands
Consumption of sweet potatoes is relatively steady throughout the year, although it tends to peak around Thanksgiving. In the past 15 years, consumption per capita has doubled according to the USDA. “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits of sweet potatoes,” shared Thomas. In addition, it is a very versatile root vegetable. Sweet potatoes can be used as ingredient in dishes, but people also use them to make entrees. Outside the US, demand is growing as well and Scott Farms has offices in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to serve its overseas customers. “Sweet potatoes are increasingly incorporated in everyday life and becoming a staple item,” shared Thomas.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 am EST, Scott Farms will be featured in the American Farmer program on RFD TV. Click here to learn more and watch the episode.

For more information:
Jeff Thomas
Scott Farms
Tel: 919-284-4030