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Harvest and Cure Sweet Potatoes

 
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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I've successfully harvested sweet potatoes for 3 years using the common curing method of digging them up and drying them for a week or two in a warm (80-85 degrees)  humid (80%) place.   Recently I saw a viewer comment in a blog but I can't remember where,   who said her grandfather cut the vines off the plants in late summer,   left the tubers in the ground for a week, and then dug them up before a frost.     I sure like the simplicity of this method and am going to try both methods.   Anyone else heard of this and have additional tips/instructions?
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I cut the vines and leave the sweets in the soil for at least a week.
We grow ours in "Totes" so they are easy to harvest (and it keeps voles from feasting on our sweet potatoes).
Once the harvest has been sitting for the two weeks, we dump the totes and separate the sweets, we have a space between one of our dog's houses roof (pallet dog house) for curing the sweet potatoes, it's out of direct sun but has plenty of air flow.
We cure them for three weeks this way then move them to boxes for storing over winter. We usually have enough to last until the next harvest.
 
pollinator
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Location: Near Philadelphia, PA
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That's an interesting approach!  I've dug and cured in the warmth following tradition - I put the tubers in a box and place that in a car parked in the sun, so the space is warm and humid.  Last year, things turned cooler, so I wasn't happy with the temps I could achieve during curing but the sweets seemed fine.

I have had problems in the past with tubers splitting when it is really wet in late summer.  Hope you and your crop have done OK, Susan, with Hurricane Florence!

 
Susan Pruitt
pollinator
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So Bryant, you're still doing the "dry" cure in addition to cutting the vines 2 weeks before digging.   I wonder if the blog commenter only recalled the first part of her grandpa's method.    I hadn't thought about using my car for drying although I do use it for herbs.   I have a station wagon - no kids,  so it will be perfect!  I do about 20 plants every year so it's hard to live with them spread around my very small house for weeks.   I eat the equivalent of about one medium per day usually for 10 months too!   Then they start sprouting and drying out so I pressure can a few batches for soups and root some to start the new crop.

Thanks Phil - I am very fortunate to be in Greensboro - north central half of the state, about 200 miles from Wilmington/New Bern.    We rarely have severe weather and last week were just on the top edge of Florence.   About 5" of rain and constant mist for the week, some gusty winds but no worse than a typical late summer storm.  I am postponing the sweet potato harvest a week or so to let it dry out a bit.   I've never had a problem with splitting but this year we had a month of extreme dry and then this soggy storm.  Also this year I added a thicker layer of hay than usual when planting the sets so I wonder if that repelled excess water or held it in - we'll find out soon :)  

I'll do three trial samples  1) just cutting the vines early, no dry cure  2) cut vines early and dry cure   3)  dig and dry cure immediately

Will update results here in a month or so :)
 
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