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Old 09/13/10, 11:58 AM
Falls-Acre's Avatar  
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Western VA
Posts: 785
When to dig sweet potatoes

How do I know when to try digging my sweet potatoes? I planted them late, maybe mid-June or early July or so. So I doubt they are ready yet, but how will I know? Also, where should I dig to find the tubers themselves? Close to the base stem?

Finally, I didn't realize the 'vines' would run, can I put up poles next year for the yams to run up? And when would be the best time to plant them next year?
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Old 09/13/10, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 500
Do you have sweet potatoes or yams? They are not the same. I takes at least 90 days before they'll be ready to dig if they are sweet potatoes. If you got a really late start just be sure to dig before frost.

Last edited by Missy M; 09/13/10 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 09/13/10, 03:42 PM
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You should dig before the first frost. >Thanks Marc
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Old 09/13/10, 05:52 PM
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Location: Watertown, Tn.
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Correct, dig before the first frost. The potatoes will be where you planted the plant. You might want to make sure they are not sticking out of the ground. You could have a few small ones along the runners. I stole some before the big harvest, but planted early..

Good Luck with them
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Old 09/14/10, 12:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Missouri
Posts: 431
Dig after frost?

In an earlier post, we discussed digging immediately after the first frost. Cut the vines off at ground level to prevent the dying vine from impacting the underground potatoes....then harvest immediately after the frost to give them the longer growing time, especially if you planted late.

So, not to hijack the thread, but what is the distinction between a yam and a sweet potato? Would you know the difference looking at them in the produce aisle?
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Old 09/14/10, 01:41 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: NW PA
Posts: 1,093
When we ordered ours this year (Sandhill Preservation Center) they were sent in mid-June which was considered the "proper" planting time for our zone 5 garden. The info said that they disliked cold weather. Also said that most of the growth happens in the last month and that because they vine you should occasionally lift the vines to make sure they were not rooting into the ground as this would greatly reduce your yeild. Harvest was around first frost.
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Old 09/14/10, 03:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 500
Sweet potatoes are a tuber that grows in our climate. Dry and not very sweet. Yams are tropical much sweeter and moister. I think there is a difference in the skins too. Can I tell them apart in the grocery, YES. I look at the sign, like everyone else does.
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Old 09/14/10, 03:56 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 328
Anyone had any luck tunneling them to extend the growing time?
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Old 09/15/10, 04:30 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: South Central Wisconsin
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We're pretty much limited to varieties which we can grow here on the "Frozen Tundra" and need every minute of growing time in order to get decent tubers. With our first normal frost maybe a week away, I'm not about to frantically start digging next week while trying to keep the heat-induced sweat out of my eyes. The Beauregard's, Georgia Jets, and O'Henrys are going to need as many days as I can give them. Other than those few plants which have already been dug for incorporating into our meals, the bulk of them will be left until a morning when I find the leaves blackened by frost. Then, what's there is what there will be and all tubers will be out of the ground before that day is over.

And to answer a question by the OP, sweet potatoes won't climb on their own. Poles and trellises would call for a lot of attention to keep tying them up. I plant mine so that they have at least 4' on each side of the row. Of the 3 this year, Beauregard is still the master sprawler with vines to 10' at times. Don't care how much they want to travel as long as they leave a lot of super tubers behind!

Oh, you don't want their vines setting down roots. Those points will try to produce their own tubers as if they were growing in the Tropics. Commercial growers will send a crew through the fields to flip everything on one side of the row to the other and then repeat later with the other side. That's to tell the plant to concentrate all energy into the original plant base.

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Old 09/15/10, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Missouri
Posts: 431
Did not know about pulling up runners

Good information....I know mine started anchoring to the ground......will have to remember that next year....never had heard of that, but it does make sense. I am waiting patiently to dig......
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Old 09/15/10, 10:57 AM
makete's Avatar  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: U.P. of Michigan
Posts: 112
Martin, thanks so much for that piece of information. I too, will have to remember that for next year.
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