PRESS BULLETIN 177
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
STORING THE SWEET POTATO CROP
By C. K. McQuarrie
How to store the sweet potato crop in such a manner as to ensure
against loss by decay, is a matter that seriously concerns the farmers of
the State. A considerable loss occurs in this crop every winter from pre-
ventable causes. The methods of harvesting the crop are responsible for
a large amount of this loss, and the methods of storing for most of the
-Digging Sweet Potatoes
The bulk of this crop is npt generally harvested until the first frost
occurs. The field should then be gone over, and the vines cut from the
crown of the hills by means of a sharp hoe or sickle. This operation pre-
vents the decay in the frosted vines from being communicated to the pota-
toes, and so causing the soft rot which shows itself soon after the potatoes
are dug. If we follow this method the potatoes can ripen in the ground be-
fore we dig them, and their keeping qualities will be improved.
In the digging operation, care should be exercised to prevent injury to
the tubers by cuts, scratches, or bruises, which are another source of soft
rot. Where a considerable acreage is to be harvested, it will be a point of
economy to use a regular potato-digger. This works better and quicker,
avoids injury, and ensures the getting of all the crop from the ground.
After the digging, the crop should be allowed to lie on the ground in
rows for three or four days, so as to get thoroughly dried and cured by
the sun. It is as necessary to cure potatoes, both Irish and sweet, as it is
to cure hay or forage.
Storing Sweet Potatoes
I have seldom, if ever, seen a successful sweet-potato house made by
digging a hole in the ground and roofing in, or by imitating a smoke house;
Novemlber 18, 191-1
because both of these lack ventilation. A common practice is to make small
conlcPl miless alout ten l'ushels each, and to cover them with soil and bark.
As far as my observation goes, this method is frequently a failure, because
the contents of these piles are not properly secured against rain, and are
not properly ventilated. In my own practice I have found it best to store
sweet potatoes in banks on the top of ground conveniently near to the barn
or dwelling-house. A piece of ground running north and south, of the desired
length, and about four feet wide, is levelled by means of a hoe or rake, and
the potatoes are piled on this, about five feet deep, tapering to a sharp ridge.
This makes a long V-shaped bank, and care is taken to have the sides with
a smooth and uniform slope. After all the potatoes are piled in the bank, a
good plan is to allow them to have a few days' exposure to the sun so as to
become thoroughly dry, covering at night with sacks or hay to keep off the
dew. Then the whole bank is covered two or three inches deep with some
kind of hay, and over the hay a couple of inches of soil are thrown. The
hay absorbs the moisture that is given off by the potatoes during the sweat-
ing that occurs soon after the bank is entirely covered. The soil keeps the
hay in place and protects against cold. The bank should be made water-
tight by means of boards laid lengthwise, with lapped edges to shed rain;
or a temporary frame of scantlings can be made over the bank, and shingles
or tar-paper used to keep the potatoes dry.
If the crop is stored in this way, it is less likely to rot than with ordi-
nary methods, and it can be held until late in spring, when prices run high.
State papers please copy.