Harvesting

Maturity period 

Leaf harvesting for vegetable use starts 2 months after planting.

Generally maturity period ranges between 3-6 months after planting depending on variety and environmental conditions

Maturity indicators 

  • Yellowing and drying of leaves
  • Mature tubers are recognized by the sap that comes out when detached from the root which does not darken easily or readily
  • Cracking of the soil indicates maturity and location of the tuber

How to Harvest

Locate the large tuber by cracks on the ground. Loosen the soil around the tuber with a sharp tool like a fork, sharpened stick, metal rods or matchets or pangas and lift the tuber from the ground.

Use a jembe or a ridger if you want to harvest the whole plot at once.

Care should be taken to avoid damaging the tubers.

Piece meal

The tubers are harvested as needed and hence there is no fixed time for harvesting. 

Complete harvesting

The whole crop is harvested at once. Both the mature and immature tubers are harvested at the same time.

Yields 

With good management and depending on variety you can achieve up to 38 tons/Ha although average yields ranges between 15-30 tons/Ha.

Storage

Sweet potato can be stored in the field in fresh form and harvested as needed (piecemeal). Tuber stored for long periods in the field are usually attacked by weevils and large mammalian pests.

Fresh tubers can also be stored in covered pits under shade. Before being placed in the pit, the tubers are covered with banana leaves to avoid contact with soil. Sweet potatoes tubers can also be stored as dry chips.