The Q&A Archives: Cracked Sweet Potatoes

Question: Both myself and a neighbor had good luck with our sweet potato harvest this year but for a few large ones which had cracks or fissures in them. Can you tell us why some but not all did this? Are they still usable?

Answer: It's difficult to tell from your description whether the tubers are diseased, or if they've reacted to some cultural problem during their growth. If the cracks are corky, brown and slightly raised, you may be dealing with 'scab', a common bacterial disease. Affected tubers won't store well, but in the early stages, the spots are superficial and can be peeled off or cut out, and the remaining potato will be safe to eat. If the skins of the tubers have simple cracks, it's probably due to a growth spurt with too much or too little water. In that case, the tubers are safe to eat, but won't keep well because of the openings in the skins. Whatever the cause, play it safe next year and plant your sweet potatoes in another section of the garden so any overwintering pathogens won't have a chance to attack them.

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