Most consumers believe that sweet potatoes are a seasonal crop available from September to January because they are prominent during the winter holidays. Although sweet potatoes experience a peak season during the fall and winter months, multiple varieties of sweet potatoes are available year-round. “During the fall and winter months, sweet potato production is so plentiful that consumers believe it to be a holiday market,” explains Robert Schueller of Melissa’s Produce, “The high sales during the winter holidays dictate the price, so during the peak season, sweet potatoes actually cost less.”
Baby sweet potatoes seasonally available
The Southeastern and East coast of America mistakenly refer to sweet potatoes as yams, which are not sweet and have a thick skin because they are roots. The main varieties of sweet potatoes sold by Melissa’s Produce are Garnett and Jewel; however more sub-varieties like Oh Henry and Okianawa are available. “We have sweet potatoes from many varieties and in many colors,” adds Schueller.
Another variation of sweet potatoes, called Baby due to the small stature, are available in similar varieties. Baby sweet potatoes are the size of new potatoes with a crisp taste, but are more seasonal and available only from August until March.
Sweet potato fries
Melissa’s Produce grows sweet potatoes both conventionally and organically to offer consumers a better selection. This also helps to follow trending demands for both organic produce and sweet potatoes. “More consumers are realizing the sweet potatoes are not a holiday crop,” states Schueller, “Many high-end restaurants are starting to sell sweet potato fries along with classic fries.”
Organic sweet potatoes are offered from August to March; however within five years’ time the potential to have organic available on a year-round basis may exist. There are not many challenges when growing sweet potatoes, therefore many states throughout America are producers of this crop. “Only California has the ability to offer distribution year-round due its unique climate and short growing season,” adds Schueller.