The North Carolina sweet potato harvest started in September and is currently about 85% done. Jeff Thomas from Scott Farms says: “At the beginning of the harvest the weather was really hot and dry, even reaching the triple digits, and this lasted into the first week of October. Fortunately, the harvest wasn’t impacted much by this – the yield is looking to be of average volume and the quality is actually looking great.”
The sweet potato growing season begins in mid-April and lasts through mid-November, but Scott Farms supplies the product year-round. Jeff explains: “We have storage facilities with space for 2.2 million bushels of sweet potatoes. The way that we grow and store our product actually allows us to have field-quality crop 52 weeks a year.”
Last year Hurricane Florence damaged the crops, which made for a low yield. This affected many growers who supply the sweet potato throughout the year from their stores. “Some companies decided to start their harvests early because their storage was depleted. Usually the storages will be filled up in October and should last through the next October, but unfortunately this year many companies didn’t have that luxury due to the low yields of last year. We began planning for this back in December of last year and January of this year and managed the best we could. There will likely be some effects felt but we can’t yet say exactly what those effects will be – but we can definitely say that we will continue to be a year-round supplier” Jeff says.
While there are times throughout the year when there is a spike in demand, Jeff comments that the demand is actually steady year-round. “Thanksgiving is, of course, a busy time for the sweet potatoes, but we are seeing that they are no longer considered a winter product. We are seeing steady demand throughout the year and even through the summer months. I think this is because they are such a versatile product and they are continuously being used in new and innovative ways. This makes them an attractive product for the consumer,” Jeff concludes.