Mississippi sweet potato growers plant more than 20,000 acres of sweet potatoes each year. The state consistently ranks second in the United States in sweet potato acreage and third in production. In 2012, sweet potatoes were grown on approximately 22,500 acres, producing 394 million pounds of sweet potatoes with an estimated value of $79 million.
Sweet potato production is highly labor intensive. Each spring, a portion of the sweet potato roots produced in the previous year are placed into plant production beds and covered with 2 to 3” of soil. These sweet potato “seeds” produce vegetative shoots.
After several weeks, when the shoots reach 8 to 10” in length, these shoots are cut (by hand or mechanically). The shoots that are cut from the plant beds are called “slips.” Slips are then mechanically transplanted into ridged planting beds 8 to 10” high and 36 to 48” apart in sweet potato production fields.
Three to four months later, sweet potatoes can be harvested. Following harvest, sweet potatoes must be cured to set the skin, heal any wounds or abrasions that occurred during harvest, and increase the quality of the sweet potato flavor. Curing is accomplished by exposing newly harvested sweet potato roots to temperatures of 80 to 85°F with 85 to 90% humidity (typically for 6 to 8 days). Following curing, sweetpotatoes are stored at 55 to 60°F with approximately 85 to 90 percent humidity for up to 12 months.
At Mississippi State University, researchers and extension personnel from multiple departments collaborate to improve all facets of sweet potato production. Current research efforts include the areas of crop production, pest management (weeds, diseases, nematodes, and insects), plant physiology, food science, and agricultural and biological engineering.
- Improving Sweetpotato Packing Line Ergonomics (PowerPoint)
- MSU Sweetpotato Research & Extension Update 2013
- Update on Advanced Sweetpotato Lines
- Mechanical Undercutting to Minimize Sweetpotato Skinning During Harvest
- Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Handbook
- Mississippi Sweetpotato- 2012 Industry Evaluation
- Wild Hog Management
- Sweetpotato Tolerance to Dual Magnum Applications Followed by Simulated Rainfall
- Insect Control Guide for Agronomic Crops
- Weed Control Guidelines for Mississippi Vegetable Crops
- Nematode Thresholds
- Southeastern U.S. Vegetable Crop Handbook
Other Sweetpotato Information
Mississippi sweet potato fields that missed needed rains in June and July are experiencing favorable harvest conditions in October.
Jamie Earp, president of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, said yields are “fair, at best” at the halfway point in the 2018 harvest season.
PONTOTOC, Miss. -- Sweet potato producers, crop consultants, agricultural industry representatives and the general public will learn about ongoing Mississippi State University sweet potato research and outreach efforts at a field day Aug. 30.
The MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will host the event at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station, located at 8320 Highway 15 South in Pontotoc County.
HOUSTON, Miss. -- Sweet potato growers in Mississippi have been part of a growing industry in recent years, but they can do even better if they capitalize on export options.
That was the prevailing message at a recent meeting hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service at the Houston Civic Center Feb. 20.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi producers are growing 28,100 acres of sweet potatoes this year, but not one of those is below the northern third of the state.
What keeps growers in south Mississippi from planting the increasingly popular crop? Weevils are mostly to blame.
“Sweet potatoes grown in south Mississippi require more inputs to exclude weevils from fields and have stricter regulations as far as how and where sweet potatoes can be shipped and marketed,” said Stephen Meyers, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
PONTOTOC, Miss. -- Sweet potato producers, crop consultants, agricultural industry representatives and the general public will learn about ongoing Mississippi State University sweet potato research and outreach efforts at a field day Aug. 31.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will host the event at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station, located at 8320 Highway 15 South in Pontotoc.