A recent analysis stated that the cost of plant sweet potatoes was not very high, whereas the income generated from the sale was much higher; therefore, sweet potatoes are economically beneficial.
Sweet potato is a root vegetable of a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family of Convolvulaceae. It is a large, sweet-tasting and starchy vegetable that is surprisingly easy to grow and result in a generous amount of harvest.
Sweet potatoes are rich in fibres, vitamins and other minerals that provide many health benefits.
Plant Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes need a warm temperature of about 3 to 4 months for a perfect harvest and crop. It is ideal for planting them in Spring when any dangers of frost have passed. The soil temperature must be around 65 degrees during the day time.
Plant sweet potatoes require more sandy soil so their roots can grow downwards. Therefore the ideal type of soil is loamy with no rocks or clay. The soil must be well-drained. The area must be a vast and sunny place. Use natural fertilisers like manure or compost because sweet potatoes are toxic to nitrogen.
Usually, sweet potatoes are grown from slips, i.e. Shoots from a matured sweet potato. Slips can be found in the market and made at home as well. To create your slips, get an uncracked and medium-sized sweet potato from the store and wash properly. Cut the potato in large sections and place every piece in a jar filled with water. The potato should only be half merged into the water. Keep these jars in a warm area, and they would grow roots and leaves in some weeks.
Once the slips are grown to plant them into the beds at least 12 to 18 inches apart, should be deep enough to cover the roots and at least 1/2 inch stem, water the slips regularly also mix phosphorus fertiliser in the water at the starting stage.
- Fertilise the sweet potatoes from the side with around 3 pounds of a proper fertiliser.
- Remove weeds around two weeks after planting.
- Avoid disturbing the feeder roots.
- Water well, especially during the hot periods.
- Avoid pruning the vines.
Harvesting should be done when the potatoes are big enough to be eaten as a meal. If the vines and leaves start to turn yellow, it indicates that the sweet potatoes are ready for harvest.
Use a spade to dig up the potatoes as the sweet potato roots are spread deep into the soil. Dig out the tubers by your hands and handle them carefully as they bruise easily.
Rap the potatoes in a bowl and newspaper and pack in a basket or wooden box. Store the Plant sweet potatoes in a place where the temperature is at least 55-degree Fahrenheit. Be gentle with the potatoes. If stored in higher humidity, the potatoes can last for about six months.
- Dig the potato slips very deep.
- Having loose and fertile soil is essential.
- Water well, especially in the first two weeks.
- Cut off the extra vines to provide space for the tubers to grow.
- Make sure to choose the right fertiliser.
- The soil must be well-drained.
- Full sun and some slight evening shade are ideal.
- The temperature must be warm, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sweet Potato Pests And Diseases
Sweetpotato usually gets attacked by weevils and other nematode and insect pests which continue to plague the production despite the use of insecticides and pesticides.
- The weevil attacks all the parts of the plant and often cause losses of 60% – 100% during periods of drought, the sweet potato weevil has become a significant reason for economic loss in many countries.
Whiteflies are widely distributed pests of many crops. They are a particularly serious pest of sweet potato.
- Feathery mottle virus
- Fungal rot
- The sweet potato feathery mottle virus and sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus in combination is known as sweet potato virus disease (SPVD) are also transmitted from plant to plant by pests like whiteflies.
The symptoms are severe stunting of infected plants, stunted and distorted leaves. Common symptoms include the appearance of feathery, purple patterns on the leaves.
- Fungal rot in sweet potatoes is caused by the fungus called Fusarium Solani which causes the vegetable to rot. It causes deep lesions on the stems, plants, leaves, etc. It is advised to change the soil to solve this issue.
Types Of Sweet Potatoes
- Hannah Potatoes
- Stokes purple sweet potatoes
- Japenese sweet potatoes
- Jewel sweet potatoes
- Garnets sweet potatoes
- Hannah potatoes are cream coloured potatoes which are very sweet, and the insides remain firm and dry even after cooked.
- Stokes purple sweet potatoes are purple and are not very sweet but dry from the insides.
- Japenese sweet potatoes are also known as ‘Oriental’. They are generally rounder in size as compared to Stokes purple potatoes and are also purple. However, unlike the stokes variety, they are very sweet and relatively firm from the insides.
- Jewel sweet potatoes are orange in colour from inside – out and are mildly sweet and firm from the insides. It is like the ‘eye-catcher’ when planted among the other types of potatoes due to its bright orange-reddish colour.
- Garnets sweet potatoes are red with orange flesh. The insides are moist and very sweet when cooked.
Sweet potatoes have immense health benefits like any organic vegetable. Hither is a list of a few of them
- Sweet potatoes are incredibly beneficial for deficiency of Vitamin A as they contain high amounts of beta carotene which transforms into Vitamin A in our bodies.
- They contain essential minerals like magnesium and fibres, which proves beneficial for diabetes prevention.
- Their fatty magnesium levels also aid in stress-free and depression less lifestyle.
- The beta carotene in sweet potatoes helps prevent and protect from cancer.
- The vitamins in the vegetable help improving hair and skincare and make one look youthful.
Sweet potatoes are used in many different recipes for their sweet and think flavour. The most common way of eating sweet potato is either roasted or baked.
Sweet potatoes are easy to grow and result in a great quantity which proves beneficial for growers economically. The immense health benefits of the vegetable increase its importance in the market.
The crop is inexpensive to plant and does not take a long growing period. It is easy to care for and also brings a profitable income to the growers.