- Light: Full sun
- Vine type: Semi-running
- Matures: 90 days
- Plant spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart
- Plant size: 3- to 6-foot vine
Developed at Louisiana State University in 1987, this variety may be the world’s most popular sweet potato. It is favored for high yields of uniform, reddish-purple potatoes with tasty, deep-orange flesh that keeps well in storage. It seems to have fewer problems with white grubs than some varieties and also resists cracking. Folks in Louisiana are proud of their sweet potatoes and after tasting this one, you’ll know why. Make sure that plants get plenty of sun to develop the maximum flavor and sweetness.
Resistant to fusarium wilt and soil rot, but not resistant to nematodes.
Light requirements: Full sun.
Planting: Space 12 to 18 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Sweet potatoes need well-drained soil that’s not too rich. Work 1 inch of compost or other organic matter into soil prior to planting. Tubers develop best in loose, sandy soil. Build raised beds in heavy clay soil. Soil pH should be 5.8 to 6.2.
Water requirements: Water plants weekly to keep soil consistently moist.
Frost-fighting plan: Sweet potatoes are very sensitive to frost. Light frosts (28º F to 32º F) damage leaves and can cause roots to rot. Protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts by covering plants with straw or a frost blanket.
Common issues: A soil-borne fungal disease called scurf can devastate sweet potatoes. You can avoid it by always planting certified, disease-free plants such as these sold by Bonnie. Watch out for Japanese beetles and other leaf-eating insects, sweet potato weevils, wireworms, and nematodes. Keep deer from nibbling leaves with floating row covers or bird netting.
Harvesting: Potatoes are usually ready as the ends of vines begin to turn yellow or just before frost. Harvest before frost; cool temperatures can reduce tuber quality and storage. To harvest, find the primary crown of the plant you want to dig, and use a digging fork to loosen an 18-inch wide circle around the plant. Pull up the crown and use your hands to gather sweet potatoes. Cut vines out of your way before digging. Cure tubers to develop sweetness by lightly brushing off soil, laying unwashed tubers in a warm (80°F to 90°F), well-ventilated place for about 10 days.
Storage: Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry spot. Do not refrigerate or store below 50°F. Cured sweet potatoes keep up to 6 months when stored around 60°F with high humidity. A basement is ideal, though an air-conditioned storage room or pantry works, too.
Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, which is one of the reasons they have been ranked number one in nutrition of all vegetables by nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Other points were given for high content of fiber, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. This vegetable is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory food that offers an over-the-top amount of vitamin A as well as huge percentages of the daily value for numerous other vitamins and minerals. Among the many health benefits of a large dose of vitamin A is protection from lung disease.
- Calories: 180
- Carbohydrates: 41g
- Dietary fiber: 7g
- Sugars: 13g
- Protein: 4g
- Vitamin A: 769% DV
- Vitamin C: 65%
- Vitamin B6: 29%
- Pantothenic acid: 18%
- Niacin: 15%
- Thiamin: 14%
- Riboflavin: 12%
- Vitamin E: 7%
- Manganese: 50%
- Potassium: 27%
- Copper: 16%
- Magnesium: 14%
- Phosphorus: 11%