I suppose if there is one thing about drought, it is that it usually comes with heat, and since sweet potatoes like heat, this year's harvest was AWESOME. Some of my field mate's sweet taters were the size of her forearm. Well performing Georgia Jets were the size of bowling balls! In fact, it was somewhat challenging to find mid-sized bakers to sell to a local CSA that didn't manage to get their sweet potato slip order in on time.
I mostly slip my own plants from those with good storage, yield and eating qualities that were also good at flowering and setting seed from 2015. More slips were planted from two suppliers: Mapple Farms and Burt's Greenhouse - this was part of a large group order for my Facebook group Edible Ottawa Gardens Group (thank you to some industrious members who did the heavy lifting on this one). We planted around the end of May.
Plants established and grew well in the newly cleared field and existing beds. Though we did get an excellent harvest, flowering was delayed compared to 2015 and seed set was minimal. And by minimal, I mean I think I got three seeds or maybe four. At any rate, not stellar. Thankfully, I have been sent a nice batch of seeds to try from a couple fellow plant breeders, including some produced in a shorter season European climate. I am exploring options to help stimulate seed set for 2017 especially as it is slated as one of my super-crops for a longterm project.
I plant in approximately two foot diamonds (all the way around) and water only for establishing. I don't believe I gave them any rescue watering even in the worst of the drought as they recovered in the evening. If I did, it was maybe once or twice. They were dug in the third week of September as temperatures started to fall. Below left, you can see one of my rows and below right is Farmview's Gardens harvest from the shared field here. He uses a pitchfork like you are supposed to. I tend to dig immediately around the plant with a slicing spade (I don't slice on purpose) as I find that, at least short season varieties, cluster just beneath the plant (My favourite shovel's name is Sherman). The purple that we grew this year did have quite a few far flung tubers though I suspect it's a longer season variety. Yield was 0.5lb per square foot.
I also tried a tuber planting experiment as I've often heard people telling me they just put the whole seed-tuber in the ground. They did pretty much nothing for me except produce greens so I wouldn't recommend it as a technique at least in this climate.
All about growing, selecting and using edible plants in the Ottawa valley.