This article originally ran in the Ruston Daily Leader on Dec. 28, 2010, and you may also view this article at the Fount's web site.
Every now and then someone comes into my office to ask about producing an agriculture product. Most of the time they want to know how much land they need and how to grow whatever product they happened to read about in a magazine. From most of the discussions, I’m assuming that these articles are titled something like “How to Get RICH with Your Land”. But one of the key things that I believe gets left out of these articles is where and how to sell what you grow. That’s usually my first question to these people. When I ask them where is the market they plan to sell, they usually answer something like “Well, I’ll figure that out after it’s ready to sell.” That worries me and I usually envision someone planting something like 10 acres of cucumbers and then when they are ready, they come back in my office and say “Well, you told me how to grow them, now help me sell them.” I really don’t want someone to have to pick 10 acres of rotting vegetables because they didn’t look into how and where to sell them before they planted the crop.
I had a thought that might help those of you that have a few acres who have been considering planting something on that acreage that could possible bring in a little extra money. I was talking with a gentleman the other day and was told that the new sweet potato processing plant in Delhi only gets about 50% percent of their sweet potatoes from Louisiana growers. The rest they have shipped in from surrounding states. Well, this sounded like an opportunity for those of us in Lincoln Parish to grow sweet potatoes and have access to an easy market.
Sweet potatoes like deep sandy loam with a pH of 5.0 – 7.5 underlain by a firm friable heavier soil. Hot days and warm nights offer optimum growing conditions and sweet potatoes are extremely heat tolerant. They are established by planting sweet potato slips (transplants) during May and are ready for harvest 90 to 150 days after planting. They can be harvested with a turn plow when the foliage starts yellowing.
I believe that we have several areas of Lincoln Parish that would make for good production of sweet potatoes. We have few months to learn everything we can about sweet potatoes and then maybe a couple of folks out there might be interested in giving it a try. Please contact me for more information.