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North Carolina sees acreage growth in newer sweet potato varieties

While temperatures in North Carolina are hot and dry at the moment, weather earlier this month was favorable for sweet potato growers. "The first part of June and until now there wasn't any weather so the transplants could set. So we're as far along getting the crop into the ground as we've ever been," says Thomas Joyner, president of Nash Produce.

That said, with those aforementioned hot and dry temperatures that are reaching record highs, rain is needed now and has been elusive for a few weeks now. "So we don't know the impact of that on the crops in the field," says Joyner, adding that sweet potato harvest generally begins around Labor Day.

On acreage, it may be up slightly this season. Additionally, while much of the North Carolina sweet potato acreage is of the Covington variety, Nash Produce's Robin Narron says it is also noticing an increase in acreage of other varieties of sweet potatoes such as the Murasaki. "A lot of that is attributed to what's being seen on social media where they're showing new food trends and different recipes that are more accessible to people now," says Narron.

A look at storage crop
Meanwhile, supply of the 2023 sweet potato crop is holding up well in storage. "We had a little bit of a drier year last year so the potatoes that were stored were better quality and they've stored well. So we'll continue to ship those until we transition to new crop," says Joyner.

As for demand, it's as projected. Heading into the summer season, July and August are notably slower months for sweet potatoes though demand is expected to remain consistent.

This is all leaving pricing slightly up compared to last year. "That's because a lot of contract pricing went up and that's a lot of the market that we're in. If that hadn't happened, nobody would have planted sweet potatoes this year because nobody would have made any money," says Joyner, adding that agriculture input costs continue to rise as well.

For more information:
Nash Produce
Tel: +1 (252) 443-6011