Growing Sweet Potatoes - Knowledgebase Question

London, KY
Question by rwittenback
March 30, 2000
What is the best way to grow sweet potatoes? Can I get better growth and yield if I use black plastic to grow the plants on?


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Answer from NGA
March 30, 2000

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Most Sweet Potatoes take about 100 days to mature and can be planted 2-8 weeks after your last frost date. In most years your last frost is March 31, so you can plant from mid-April through the first of June. Time to get those slips in the ground!

Sweet potatoes form best when they're given a light textured soil with lots of organic matter. If your soil is too sandy, they'll be stringy, and if the soil is too clayey, the roots will be deformed. To create the perfect environment, build long, wide, 10" inch high ridges spaced 3 1/3 feet apart. Work in plenty of compost and plant the sweet potato pips 6" inches deep and 12" inches apart. Avoid the use of fertilizers high in nitrogen, or you'll have luxurious tops and very little tuber production. Use a 5-10-10 or 8-8-8 formulation as a side-dress about 6 weeks after planting. Apply about one-inch of water to the plants every week.

You can use black plastic over the soil surface to help concentrate heat around the roots of your sweet potato plants, which will increase both the size and growth rate of the tubers. Black plastic will also suppress weed growth.

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