Sweet Potato Growers Transitioning to Excellent 2014 Crop
CHADBOURN, NC - Sweet potatoes have been on a wild ride this year, but with growers currently making the transition from last year's crop to 2014's, producers like Wayne E. Bailey and Ham Farms are very happy with the way the season in shaping up, both in terms of quality and yield.
“Last season's concerns about weather and growing conditions left many growers and packers short on supply,” Will Kornegay from Ham Farms' sales team told ANUK. “Fortunately, we have been able to maintain a steady year round supply for our customers. This year’s harvest is currently ramping up to full scale, and as we prepare to transition into new crop shipments, we are very happy with the quality and yields being reported from the field at this time. Acreage is reported to be up in North Carolina.”
Regarding prices, Will told us that “the market should remain steady through the holidays as the industry attempts to catch up with the demand and get a good grasp of the supply outlook for the remainder of the year.”
George Wooten, President and Owner of Wayne E. Bailey, echoed much of what Will had to say.
“We began our harvest about 3 weeks ago and have been very pleased with the yield and quality of our crop,” George told me. “Because of last year's shortage, we were forced to begin our harvest a little early, which has led to a 5-10% decrease in jumbo sized sweet potatoes, but because of this year's excellent growing condition, the overall crop is still very strong despite that.”
“Right now we're expecting a very healthy market with prices right around the $25 range,” he elaborated. “As more competition enters the market and supply expands, this number will likely come down, but we're anticipating being able to sell at this price at least through mid-September.”
These growers are also working on new technologies and innovations in order to build for the future. For example, Will tells us about how Ham Farms has dedicated itself to documenting and recording the progress of its crop from the field to the store. Videos like the one shown below are the result of this investment in exciting new drone and other media technologies:
Especially after the challenges of last season, it's great to see how these growers have responded and rebounded with an excellent 2014-2015 crop. As a sweet potato lover myself, good news from this sector of the produce industry is always a welcome sight.
Companies in this Story
Wayne E. Bailey
Ham Produce Company
Ham Farms Inc. grows approximately 13,000 acres of sweet potatoes, onions and cabbage; placing them among the top 25...