Learn more about the agriculture statistics of the nation’s booming spud industry
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are enjoyed by many Americans across the nation, no matter the time of year. As popular ingredients in many recipes, potatoes and sweet potatoes are often found on tables during the holiday season in dishes like sunshine sweet potatoes and stuffed red potatoes with caramelized onions.
U.S. Potato Crops Thrive
Idaho often comes to mind when thinking of potatoes, and for good reason. With farmers producing more than 100 million hundredweight of potatoes each year on over 300,000 acres, the state produces nearly a third of all U.S. potatoes, making Idaho the leader in the nation for potato production.
Potatoes, the top vegetable crop in the U.S. and grown commercially in 30 states, are also major agricultural commodities in Washington, Wisconsin, Colorado, and North Dakota. In 2016, the nation’s farmers harvested more than a million acres of potato crops, resulting in 44 million pounds – that’s a production value of $3.7 billion.
Wondering when to harvest potatoes? A potato farmer will typically harvest new potatoes (small, tender potatoes that are harvested and eaten right away) when the plants are finished flowering. On the other hand, large potatoes that will be stored should continue growing after they’ve finished blooming, with the harvest taking place once the foliage has died at the top.
Sweet Potato Crops Flourish Across U.S.
North Carolina has ranked as the No. 1 sweet potato producing state in the U.S. since 1971. In 2016, the state harvested nearly 95,000 acres of sweet potatoes – almost 30,000 more acres than California, Louisiana and Mississippi combined, which are also top sweet potato producing states.
Many North Carolina farmers have grown sweet potatoes for decades. AgAmerica Lending has helped provide customized loan packages to specific borrowers in the potato industry, including:
- A third-generation sweet potato operation that recently expanded to manage future growth and inventory levels.
- An operation who transitioned their focus to sweet potatoes after many years of growing other crops.
- A Louisiana sweet potato grower refinanced his land to better supply sweet potatoes to customers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
When it comes to harvesting sweet potatoes, the crop is ready once their foliage begins to turn yellow. Sweet potato crops should be removed from the ground with care because the sweet potato tubers grow close to the surface and their skins, which are tender, can easily bruise. These crops are prone to attacks by root rot nematodes, so a sweet potato crop rotation to other annual vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and cabbage is recommended.
AgAmerica welcomes the holiday season and applauds our nation’s potato crop and sweet potato farmers for bringing these delicious crops to our tables. Whether it’s time to plant or harvest, we have the right financing for your agricultural operation no matter what or where you grow. Our customizable loan packages support the nation’s farmers coast to coast. Contact us today to learn more.