Sweet Potatoes succeed best in the South, but they are grown in
home gardens as far north as southern New York and southern
Michigan. They can be grown even farther north, in sections having
especially mild climates, such as the Pacific Northwest. In
general, sweet potatoes may be grown wherever there is a
frost-free period of about 150 days with relatively high
A well-drained, moderately deep sandy loam of medium fertility
is best for sweet potatoes.
Heavy clays and very deep loose-textured soils encourage the
formation of long stringy roots. For best results the soil should
be moderately fertilized throughout. If applied under the rows,
the fertilizer should be well mixed with the soil.
In most of the area over which sweet potatoes are grown it is
necessary to start the plants in a hotbed, because the season is
too short to produce a good crop after the weather warms enough to
start plants outdoors. Bed roots used for seed close together in a
hotbed and cover them with about 2 inches of sand or fine soil,
such as leaf mold. It is not safe to set the plants in the open
ground until the soil is warm and the weather settled. Toward the
last, ventilate the hotbed freely to harden the plants.
The plants are usually set on top of ridges, 3-1/2 to 4 feet
apart, with the plants about 12 inches apart in the row. When the
vines have covered the ground, no further cultivation is
necessary, but some additional hand weeding may be required.
Dig sweet potatoes a short time before frost, on a bright,
drying day when the soil is not too wet to work easily. On a small
scale they may be dug with a spading fork, great care being taken
not to bruise or injure the roots.
Let the roots lie exposed for 2 or 3 hours to dry thoroughly
but not in direct sunlight during the hot part of the day; then
put them in containers and place them in a warm room to cure. The
proper curing temperature is 85� F. Curing for about 10 days is
followed by storage at 55" to 60�.
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