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  • I am an online content editor for Successful Farming/Agriculture.com and Living the Country Life, but my full-time job is raising three boys on a small farm in south-central Iowa.
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We're Diggin In!

by Heather_Barnes ‎08-21-2014 01:20 PM - edited ‎08-21-2014 01:20 PM

We started digging sweet potatoes this week. Since I stopped by the field at 6:15 in the morning on my way to work, I had to have the appropriate footwear.




I should clarify that by "digging sweet potatoes" I don't mean we get out in the field with a shovel.  The tractor pulls a special plow which turns the sweet potatoes on top of the ground.  Somer farmers cut the vines before they harvest but we don't.  Here's a video I took this morning of My Farmer plowing sweet potatoes.





Did you know sweet potatoes are actually the root of the plant?  By the way, they are not related to white (or yellow or red) potatoes, which are actually tubers.


Once the sweet potatoes are flipped on the ground, workers move down the row, putting sweet potaotes of the same size in a bucket. 




The bucket is taken to the truck and dumped in a bin with sweet potaotes of the same size. 




This is called field grading.  There are 3 grades of sweet potaotes:  Jumbo, No. 1 and canner.  As you can see from the picture below, jumbos can be really big!  Canners are the smallest.  I forgot to get a picture of them.  Hadn't had my caffeine boost yet, so my mind wasn't focused. 




We don't use a machine to harvest sweet potaotes because thier skin is very thin and easiliy damaged.  Any damage could lead to rot.


Where do sweet potatoes go when they leave the field?  Well, they aren't going into our storage building since it isn't finished yet.  But  at least we can lock the door.