Louisiana sweet potato acreage continues to decline

07/02/2013 01:34:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

sweet potatoesCourtesy Louisiana State University AgCenterLouisiana State University has the only research center in the nation devoted to sweet potato research.Louisiana farmers are planting fewer sweet potato acres, and experts blame several factors for the decline.

This season, acreage is estimated at 7,500, down 25 percent from 2012 and less than 50 percent of what it was just 10 years ago, according to a news release.

Tara Smith, coordinator of the Louisiana State University AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station, blames several factors for the decline.

Several farmers have retired. In addition, higher production costs combined with lower prices have turned off some producers.

A cold, wet spring also delayed field preparation this year.

Most of the state's production is planted to the Beauregard variety, but more growers are trying two new varieties released last year—Orleans and La 07146.

Although Orleans ia a Beauregard-type potato, it produces more consistent tubers and has a slightly higher overall yield.

La 07146 is designed for processing into sweet potato fries. It yields 15 percent to 20 percent more than Beauregard.

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