Sweet potatoes are one of the highly recognized root tubers in the world. Because of their fiber-rich property, they have become a beloved dietary staple in many cultures. One thing to note about these tubers is that they love warm weather and long summers.
The best time to cultivate them is around mid-April in the south and the beginning of May in the mid and north. Continue reading to know more details about when to plant sweet potatoes in Georgia!
Table of Contents
Things to Consider When Planting Sweet Potatoes
1. USDA Hardiness Zone
Sweet potatoes need 8-10 hours of daily sunlight to become healthy in a warm environment. When growing sweet potatoes, it is necessary for the soil temperature to reach 75°-95°F.
Once they are grown, they can endure low temperatures of about 45-50°F. However, the plants’ exposure to cold surroundings for long consecutive days can result in damage and death.
As long as the crop has a minimum of 120 frost-free days to mature, it can grow in USDA zones 2-11, thereby making the cities in Georgia ideal for sweet potato planting as they fall under zones 6-9.
Approximately, there are 205 days of growth time in the state. These are the days between the last and first frost of the year suitable for cultivation. As a rule of thumb, planting and harvesting sweet potatoes takes about four months or more.
2. Season and Weather
The state experiences four seasons in both its southern and northern parts. Sweet potatoes long for hot days, making the extended summers of Georgia an ideal time for them to thrive.
At the same time, you must be very alert of the local weather during spring as its cold weather makes it impossible for sweet potatoes to grow. The first and last frost dates play a vital role in determining crop survival. Typically, if the frost doesn’t occur once in two weeks, you are safe to plant outdoors.
The table below shows the frost dates that you may need to be cautious of in the major cities of Georgia.
First and Last Frost Dates
|City||Last Spring Frost Date||First Fall Frost Date|
|Atlanta||March 23||November 13|
|Augusta||March 6||November 26|
|Columbus||March 14||November 16|
|Savannah||March 12||November 21|
|Waycross||Mar 24||Nov 9|
3. Planting Method
1. Water Method
An old-fashioned approach to producing sweet potato slips involves placing them in water. Although proven effective, it usually takes about 6-8 weeks or more to generate slips. You can opt for this method if you have ample time before planting and lack indoor lighting.
2. Indoor Soil Method
One common misconception about producing sweet potatoes is that they require a lot of space. The truth is, they can flourish on your patio, porch, or balcony even if you place them in pots or in containers.
Utilizing this method can encourage sweet potato slips to grow quicker as compared to the water method. Most of the time, it only takes about 4-6 weeks for slips to develop. However, exposure of the plant to bright indoor lighting is the key to successful growth.
3. Outdoor Soil Method
This technique is the most effective if done in a warm surrounding. Once the soil’s temperature becomes adequate, it will only take 4-6 weeks for the slips to show. If you enjoy a lengthy sweet potato season outdoors, you can always go for this.
Sweet Potato Varieties Suitable in Georgia
- Beauregard– a widely available sweet potato variety known for its disease resistance and bountiful produce. The light rose-colored skin of this tuber comes with a deep orange flesh.
- Jewel- When we think of sweet potatoes, we imagine copper-colored skin and a deep-orange flesh. This description best refers to Jewel. This variety flexibly grows under the sun or in partial shade.
- Centennial- This sweet potato variety displays an orange outer skin and orange flesh. They are more elongated, drier, and slightly fibrous than similar orange varieties.
- Porto Rico-This variety is well-suited for regions that experience extended periods of hot summers.
Here’s the table with details of each variety!
|Variety||USDA Hardiness||Exposure||Best Time to Plant||Maturity Time|
|Beauregard||5-11||Full Sun||Two weeks after the last spring frost, Summer||105 days|
|Jewel||5-11||Full/Partial Sun||Two weeks after the last spring frost, Summer||120-135 days|
|Centennial||5-11||Full Sun||Two weeks after the last spring frost, Summer||110 days|
|Porto Rico||5-11||Full Sun||Two weeks after the last spring frost, Summer||120 days|
Tips to Successfully Plant Sweet Potatoes in Georgia
1. Right Timing
Cultivating sweet potatoes successfully is more challenging than it seems. Unlike tropical countries with a warm climate most of the year, the state’s four seasons are the enemy. Thus, learning to make the most of Georgia’s summer would be best.
Aside from this, one must not plant too early or too late into the sweet potato season. Since frost harms the crop, it’s best to avoid it by diligently checking the local weather.
- Place under sunlight – As aforementioned, sweet potatoes require a minimum of 6 hours under direct sunlight to a maximum of 8-10 hours daily. Ideally, place them facing south, away from trees or structures that would cast a shadow. Since insufficient sunlight can result in paler leaves and lower yields.
- Water – Sweet potato slips have a high water requirement during the initial planting stage. Their delicate stem cuttings are susceptible to wilting and drying out rapidly in excessively sunny conditions. Keep the soil moist by consistently watering approximately 1 inch of water weekly.
- Soil – Sweet potatoes prefer fertile, less acidic, and well-drained soil. Ideally, it should be a fine sandy loam with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. If your soil has a clay composition, it is best to incorporate compost or other organic matter into the planting bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I grow sweet potatoes out of seeds?
Sweet potatoes are not grown from seeds. They are cultivated from rootable cuttings called slips (a mature sweet potato’s rooted sprout) instead of sweet potato seedlings.
How many sweet potatoes can I grow from one slip?
In growing sweet potatoes, it is possible for a single sweet potato slip to yield an average of four to ten tubers.
What is the proper way of fertilizing sweet potatoes?
Fertilizing sweet potatoes is simple. Just incorporate a fertilizer with a low nitrogen and high phosphorus content before planting the slips.
Unearthed in this guide are the secrets to when to plant sweet potatoes in Georgia! From the perfect planting time to the most suitable varieties in the state’s warm climate.
You are now equipped with the idea that sweet potatoes are warm weather-loving tubers. They exhibit resilience to drought and are relatively resistant to pests. With the help of maintenance tips, you’re on your way to a successful harvest.
Happy growing potatoes!
Please consult the recommended schedule for planting vegetables in Georgia below:
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