Cultivation and harvest
Growing sweet potatoes
North Carolina growers plant thousands of young plants between mid-May and late June. The rows of plants grow and flourish during the warm summer months, creating long winding vines above ground and elongated orange-colored roots underground.
The harvest begins in the first half of September. Before farmers uproot the sweet potatoes, they mow the green vines above ground. To keep from damaging the sweet potatoes’ thin skins, they are harvested by hand and carefully placed in buckets which are later emptied into wooden storage bins.
In season all year round
Only one-fifth of the harvest goes directly to market. The rest is kept in large wooden containers in climate-controlled storage sheds. This helps the sweet potatoes maintain their ideal quality, and they can be stored for up to twelve months without affecting their flavor or consistency. As a result, they are available year-round.