News Filed Under Sweet Potatoes
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- In spite of recent rains, the state’s sweet potato growers have a lot to be excited about this harvest season.
“Growers set the majority of the crop back in late May and June under ideal conditions,” said Stephen Meyers, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “We had good root set, which means the number of roots per plant has been good.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A machine designed by a group of Mississippi State University researchers could help sweet potato farmers reduce skinning injury to potatoes and speed up harvest.
The undercutter prototype, made from off-the-shelf components, shows early potential to help lower harvest and post-harvest losses caused by skinning, said Jason Ward, assistant Extension professor in MSU’s Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department. Problems stemming from skin abrasions that happen during digging and handling account for 20 to 25 percent of storage losses, he said.
PONTOTOC – Sweet potato growers, crop consultants and other agricultural professionals can learn about recent weed, insect and disease control research during an upcoming field day.
Researchers and specialists with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment station will host the event Aug. 22 at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station located at 8320 Highway 15 South.
PONTOTOC – A new sweet potato specialist has joined forces with Mississippi growers as they produce and promote one of the state’s favorite vegetable crops.
Stephen Meyers, a native of northern Indiana, is working with growers whose fields are largely centered in or around Calhoun and Chickasaw counties. He earned his bachelor’s degree in horticultural production and marketing, with a minor in weed science, from Purdue University. He received master’s and doctoral degrees in weed management from North Carolina State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Significant production levels and high market prices combined to give Mississippi’s agricultural commodities over $7 billion in total value.
Mississippi State University agricultural economists gathered preliminary data from crop production reports, world agricultural supply and demand estimates, industry resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture outlook reports. They predict a $7.3 billion annual value of the state’s top crops, excluding government payments. Final figures will be available in the spring of 2013.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s soil and climate are ideally suited to producing sweet potatoes, a crop that gives the state a No. 2 national ranking.
Harvest began about Aug. 20 on Mississippi’s 22,500 acres of sweet potatoes. North Carolina comes in first with 64,000 acres. Acreage in both states varied little from last year. The Mississippi crop was valued at nearly $66.5 million in 2011.
If you’re looking for a vigorous and unique ground cover for your landscape, consider a popular ornamental that I really enjoy, the colorful sweet potato vine.
Longtime favorites include Margarita, which is lime green with large leaves; Blackie, a cut-leaf variety with dark purple to black foliage; and Tricolor, which has leaves of green, pink and white.
New selections have introduced amazing color selections and leaf shapes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s agricultural commodities are predicted to reach a record-high value of more than $6.7 billion for 2011.
Mississippi State University Extension Service economists compiled the numbers from poultry, forestry, agronomic crops, catfish and livestock for the annual value estimate. If government payments are factored in, the state’s value of production reaches $7 billion for the first time in history.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – The state’s sweet potato crop appeared to be doomed before it started, but a late soaking allowed this hardy crop to yield average harvests after a tough year.
Bill Burdine, area agronomic specialist in Chickasaw County with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said quality may be slightly above average for this crop, which started a little behind schedule.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – It takes two planting seasons to harvest one sweet potato crop, and hot, dry weather made this year’s second planting challenging for Mississippi growers.
In March, sweet potato growers bed their crop, which means they plant high-quality seed stock in the ground to produce transplants, known as slips. These slips are planted in May and June to produce the harvest in September and October of the state’s highly acclaimed sweet potatoes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – In the ongoing attempt to put the best seed possible in the ground every time they plant, sweet potato growers often turn to virus-tested foundation seed for their next crop.
Many crops today are grown from genetically modified seed engineered to resist certain pests, diseases or weed-control chemicals. For most crops, growers must buy seed every year, not holding seed back from the previous year’s harvest to plant the coming year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Farmers have to grow two crops just to make one sweet potato harvest, making this delectable vegetable a labor-intensive, high-cost crop to produce.
As of late March, Mississippi sweet potato producers had finished bedding the crop, which means they had planted the seed stock that will produce transplants, or slips. These slips will be planted in May and June to produce the sweet potatoes that end up on tables.
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Several Mississippi State University student groups recently waged war on hunger by bagging sweet potatoes for food pantries in the Golden Triangle area.
The Society of St. Andrew, a grassroots, nonprofit organization that recruits volunteers to gather leftover crops, located farmers willing to donate produce. The 15,000 pounds of Beauregard sweet potatoes that arrived at the Palmeiro Center on Nov. 12 for the event known as the sweet potato drop came from Dawson Farms of Delhi, La.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – 2010 is shaping up to be a sweet year for Mississippi sweet potato growers, a total change from the rains that destroyed 75 percent of last year’s crop at harvest.
Benny Graves, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s Bureau of Plant Industry, summed the year up by saying the Vardaman sweet potatoes are back.
What relative of the morning glory makes an ornamental ground cover featuring beautiful, colorful foliage?
If your answer is ornamental sweet potatoes, then you are right. Ornamental sweet potatoes, known botanically as Ipomoea batatas, are actual sweet potatoes selected for their vivid and attractive leaves. The plants produce a flower that resembles a morning glory but is hidden by the foliage. They also produce edible tubers.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Ornamental sweet potatoes rule! I just returned from speaking to a group, called Pascagoula Pride, that takes city beautification seriously. As I drove through town, I could not help but admire their effective use of the lime green ornamental sweet potatoes.
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – As Mississippi’s sweet potato industry continues to grow, researchers at Mississippi State University are developing even more innovative and effective strategies for growers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi is a national leader in the production of the sweet potato, a holiday favorite and also one of the most nutritious vegetables available year-round.
Benny Graves, executive secretary of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, said the state's sweet potatoes have a reputation for their taste and quality.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweet potato yields and quality appear to be favorable despite rains that have harvest season running seven to 10 days behind schedule.
Calhoun County Extension director Charles Fitts said growers in Mississippi's sweet potato heartland are looking for good weather to finish harvest by the first week in November.
“If rainy weather slows growers down too much, potatoes will be at risk of losing quality when the ground freezes,” Fitts said. “So whenever field conditions are good, growers are working as quickly as possible.”
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Neither the chill nor the early hour dampened the enthusiasm of 100 Mississippi State University students who gave up their weekend beauty sleep to bag 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes for the Mississippi Food Network.