Sweet Potatoes: A Small but Sweet Dothan Crop

By: Martha Spencer
By: Martha Spencer

They grow in the ground from a vine, and they flower, but it's not cotton or peanuts in this southern Houston county field.

For the first time, Bell Farms in Dothan has planted ten acres of sweet potatoes, and that's about all you'll find planted commercially in southern Alabama.

"There are a few counties in the southern part of the state that are under a sweet potato weevil quarantine and thats one of the key pests of the sweet potato in this area" said David Neil, with the Auburn Extension Agency.

In the mid-eighties the sweet potato weevil plagued southern Alabama crops, so much that the state required all sweet potatoes that were being shipped out of the area to be inspected first.

"In order to stop that spread of the weevil they put a quarantine on the lower counties in the state" said Neil.

But things are so far so good in the Bell's field, and this viney plant, that is actually closer in family to the Morning Glory, is yielding 350 to 400 bushells an acre. That is around 16,000 pounds of sweet potatoes an acre.

"We planted these with the boys from north alabama, the state came in put traps out tryin to find, get a weevil count down in south Alabama." said David Bell Jr.

The sweet potato is native to the mountainous regions of Peru and Equador.

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