PRESS BULLETIN 185
March 9, 1912
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
GROWING SWEET POTATO DRAWS
By C. K. McQuarrie
The farmer who intends to raise a crop of sweet potatoes should prepare
for it by making a seed bed in time to have "draws" ready for setting in
the field as early in April as possible. This will allow the vines to grow suffi-
ciently to be cut into suitable lengths for planting the main crop late in May
or early in June.
When heavy rain and cold weather prevail through the month of Feb-
ruary, it is not advisable to make the bed too early. Cold moist soil is detri-
mental to the growth of the thrifty plants we need for setting out in the field.
If the bed is made early in March and cared for as suggested here, better
draws will be had in the same time, than if it is started earlier under un-
Location of the Bed
A preferable location for the bed is on the south side of a building or of
a tight board fence, so that the sun will keep the soil warm; for the sweet
potato is a plant of the tropics.
Making the Bed
In making the bed it is advisable to clear a space on the ground of the
desired length and not more than four feet wide, so as.to be easily accessible
when pulling the draws. It is sufficient tb level the soil with a rake or hoe
and take care that no water will stand in the vicinity in rainy weather. It is
advisable to make a frame for the bed by setting ten-inch or twelve-inch
boards on edge and driving stakes. On the bottom of the bed a layer of horse
manure about four inches thick should be placed. This should be covered
with soil to a depth of a few inches and tramped well so as to ensure it being
solid and prevent the escape of moisture. If sunny 'warm weather prevails,
the bed should be allowed to remain in that condition for a few days so that
the soil will be as warm as possible when the seed is laid in place.
Though this method of making a bed is not the one usually employed,
it will give a large number of strong draws in a short time.
Quality of Seed
One of the essentials towards a good crop is the use of good draws for
the first planting. To this end we must see that nothing but high grade seed
potatoes are used. The practice of using poor seed potatoes is really wasteful.
Nothing but the healthiest potatoes available should be used when making the
seed bed, and they should not be too small nor too large.
Each potato should be carefully put down in the bed separately so that
they do not touch one another, in which case rot will be apt to occur.
Any larger than the average should be split in halves the long way of the
potato and the cut side laid next the soil. After .the seed is all placed in posi-
tion it should be covered with a thin layer of soil, and on top of the soil
another thin layer of horse manure 'with a very little soil on top of that to
prevent evaporation. In ordinary practice we have found one bushel of seed
sufficient for an acre.
Care of the Bed
If dry weather prevails after making the bed it should be watered occa-
sionally with a sprinkler. The aim should be to keep the soil in such a moist
warm condition that we get draws as early as possible.
After the sprouts show above the ground and get to growing well, soil
should be added every few days so as to make long-necked draws. By covering
shallow at first and increasing the soil depth as the plants grow we get the
best conditions for quick growth, If we cover deep at first, growth is re-
tarded, and time is what counts when once the season for planting has come.
State papers please copy.