Virginia-grown sweet potatoes ‘moving really well’ this fall
November 15, 2012
AMELIA—Sweet potatoes are in high demand this time of year. But their versatility goes far beyond the holiday table.
"Sweet potatoes aren’t just for winter holidays anymore,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist with Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Consumers are returning to sweet potatoes for meals at home and in restaurants. Renewed demand for sweet potatoes represents a great opportunity for farmers to generate income, whether through direct sales or wholesale.”
Kenney Barnard and his brother, Daniel, sell sweet potatoes directly to the public at Hoot Owl Hollow Farm in Amelia County. They have been growing sweet potatoes for 25 years, steadily increasing the amount they plant over the past decade. This year the brothers planted 2 acres of sweet potatoes, which yielded 1,200 bushels.
“We had a very good crop this year despite the dry weather,” Kenny Barnard said. “We had 60 days without any rain. We were the Sahara Desert of Virginia and had to water the potatoes frequently.”
Nevertheless, “this crop is just as good as last year’s crop, and the potatoes are moving really well.”
The Barnard brothers plant sweet potatoes at the end of May and usually dig them up around Labor Day to prevent them from growing too large.
“By purchasing sweet potatoes locally, customers are able to get a fresher product, and they know where the food comes from,” Barnard said. “We sell potatoes to anyone who can use them. We have churches buy potatoes for use in pies, and we give some away to churches too.”
Sweet potatoes are among the most nutritious vegetables because they are virtually fat-free and are very low in sodium and cholesterol. They also are a good source of dietary fiber and are rich in beta carotene and potassium—nutrients that may help protect against heart attack and stroke.
Contact Banks at 804-290-1114 or Sara Owens, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1133.