THE COASTAL PLAIN
North Carolina sweet potato farmers are pleased. Despite cultivating 83,000 acres, compared to last year’s 98,000, yields are up 5%. Farmers say the weather has been cooperative. Widespread damage was anticipated from flooding with Hurricane Irma, but the crops emerged unscathed. A couple of dry spells, one in June and one in September, were expected to be even more injurious, but they weren’t. Instead, farmers are saying their crops are high-quality, with very large potatoes of good consistency. 40-pound cartons of United States No. 1 sweet potatoes from North Carolina have been selling for $13-$16, and that’s a good price. Solid harvests have been running from September and are expected to remain strong through Thanksgiving. While unpackaged produce sales remain flat, growers are benefitting from preservation and packaging technologies and the perception that sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving anymore. North Carolina produces more sweet potatoes than any other state in the nation.