PRESS BULLETIN 169
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
By C. K. McQuarrie.
The sweet potato is in evidence in small patches everywhere in the
State. Considering its importance on the farm, one feels surprised that
it is not grown on a much larger scale than it is. It is certainly one of the
most profitable of the farm crops that we have, and is suitable to all sec-
tions of Florida.
Preparation of Soil.
Land on which has been grown a winter or spring crop of small
grains (such as oats or rye), or a truck crop (such as beans, cucumbers, or
melons), can be utilized to good advantage by growing a sweet potato crop,
if the proper methods are practiced in the necessary preparation of the soil.
The disk plow will give the most satisfactory results, as it pulverizes and
mixes the top and bottom soils, so that the air so necessary for the best
crop production may diffuse into the soil. Failing a disk, we want a heavy
two-horse plow, taking care to plow all the residue of the previous crop com-
pletely under, and using a disk .harrow to finish the pulverization of the soil
that a turning plow cannot well do. It is advisable to do this preparatory
breaking as early as possible, plowing from six to ten inches deep, and
after every rain run a weeder or harrow over the plowed land to make a
dust mulch to prevent evaporation of the moisture. Sweet potatoes yield
best planted on beds about four feet wide from center to center, the size
of the bed depending on the kind of land. On flat lands, where drainage
is deficient in rainy weather, very high beds should be made (say about
three feet vertical height between the top and base of the bed), so as to
ensure the crop having its roots above water-level in wet weather. On high
lands, where the drainage is good, large rounded-top beds should be made,
not exceeding fifteen inches in height between crown and base of bed.
This is a crop on which all available lot and stable manure can be used
to good advantage, either by applying in the furrow and bedding over it, or
May 27, 1911
by broadcasting and mixing well with the soil when bedding. Failing a
sufficient supply of any of this, an application of from six to eight hundred
pounds per acre of a commercial fertilizer (analyzing about 3 per cent. am-
monia, 7 per cent. phosphoric acid, and 8 per cent. potash) should be ap-
plied broadcast at bedding time so as to get it completely mixed with the
soil. In sections of the State where plenty of cattle are available for the
purpose, what is known as "cowpenning" is done successfully.
Draws or slips do not produce so good a crop as vine cuttings. There-
fore, we want to plant just enough draws early in April to ensure a full
supply of vines for the main planting in June when the rainy season sets in.
No more beds than we have vines ready for, should be made up at any one
time. Vines should be cut in about twelve-inch lengths, and the butt ends
inserted in the top of the bed by means of a lath to a depth of about four
inches, at fifteen inches apart. Some extensive growers prefer to cut vines
twenty inches long, place lath at middle of vine and push into the soil.
After a rain is a good time to plant; but if the vines are ready and the
soil has been properly prepared, there will be enough moisture in the soil
at any time to ensure a good stand on freshly made beds, as the packing
back of the loose soil will cause the vines to take root right away. A single
watering may be necessary in very dry weather in the driest years.
State papers please copy.