North Carolina Produces 60% of the Country’s Sweet Potatoes; the Crop Is in Trouble

— Written By

Dan Nosowitz | Modern Farmer | 9/26/2018

North Carolina produces about 60 percent of the country’s total sweet potato crop, more than the next three states—California, Mississippi, and Louisiana—combined. Hurricane Florence’s path of destruction has been fairly well tracked for livestock, especially pigs and chickens, but for plants, the damage is much less certain.

The Charlotte Observer dives deep into this year’s sweet potato crop, finding that the rainfall from Florence fell at just the wrong time, and in just the wrong way. The sweet potato crops are near harvest, unlike the previous nasty hurricane, Matthew, which came in early October of 2016. Also unlike Matthew, Florence dropped a great deal of water over an extended three-day period, not allowing the floodwater to drain off.

Sweet potatoes are not fantastically choosy plants, but one thing they can’t handle is periods of water saturation. The tubers, which are what we mostly eat, become waterlogged, soggy, and rotten, and are generally unsellable. (The leaves and vines of the plant are also perfectly edible and tasty, unlike the barely related potato, but sweet potato greens are not eaten all that often in most of the US.)

Read Dan’s full article.