Sweet Potato Damage from Storms

Thomas A. Merrill, Guidry, Kurt M.  |  9/17/2008 2:36:50 AM

Louisiana’s sweet potato harvest had not really begun before the storm – with only a few producers conducting any part of their harvest. As a result, losses for this crop are estimated at $33.5 million or more than 50 percent of the anticipated farm-gate value for the year. All major sweet potato production areas of the state received between 10 inches and 20 inches of rain over a three-day period. Saturated soil can lead to breakdown and souring – rotting – of sweet potatoes in the ground. Final damage levels will be affected by the amount of rain and other climatic conditions during the next few weeks. Another longer-term issue with sweet potatoes is seed production. The majority of producers in the state hold a percentage of each year’s production to serve as seed for the next year’s growing season. With the damage caused by Hurricane Gustav, seed potato supplies probably will be limited for 2009 production and that could mean producers will experience much higher planting costs in 2009.

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