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How to Harvest Sweet Potatoes: Tips for Digging and Storing (2023)

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how to harvest sweet potatoesAre you ready to harvest your sweet potatoes? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll cover everything there is to know about harvesting sweet potatoes: when and how they should be harvested, what to do with them after picking, and tips for effective curing and storage.

Knowing these things will help ensure that your crop has a long shelf life while preserving its taste qualities. To get the most out of this article, make sure you have access to certified disease-free plants like those from Bonnie® or Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics®.

Additionally, having some basic knowledge on growing conditions in your area will be beneficial.

With all of these things in mind, it’s time for us to unlock the secrets behind harvesting sweet potatoes!

Key Takeaways

  • Harvest sweet potatoes when the leaves turn yellow, which is usually about 100 days after planting.
  • To prevent milky sap leakage, it is important to minimize handling.
  • Gently lift each plant using a garden fork to avoid bruising.
  • After digging up the potatoes, do not wash them; instead, brush off any excess soil and allow them to sun dry.

When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes

When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes
You’ll want to dig up those sweet potatoes once the leaves start yellowing, usually around 100 days after planting. Keep a close eye on your crop as harvest time approaches – once those leaves start turning, it’s go time.

Be ready to act fast if an early frost hits, since temps below 45°F can damage the tubers.

Use a garden fork to gently lift each plant, and handle those spuds like babies since bruised skins lead to rot. Immediately cure your harvest in a warm, dry spot out of the sun before moving to long-term storage.

Proper harvesting and curing helps maximize the quantity and quality of your winter stash.

With the right care at harvest, you’ll be enjoying homegrown sweet potatoes for months to come.

How to Harvest Sweet Potatoes

How to Harvest Sweet Potatoes
Thou shall gently wiggle thy fork under each precious potato’s bottom and hoist it from its earthen cradle, lest thou bruiseth or sliceth its delicate flesh.

Harvest when the leaves start to yellow and begin to fall from the vines. This indicates the plant has stopped directing energy to the tubers.

Use a digging fork and work carefully to avoid slicing or bruising the tender tubers.

Minimize handling to prevent milky sap leakage from cuts and scrapes.

Do not wash freshly dug potatoes; gently brush off excess soil.

Leave them in the sun to slightly dry and cure their skins before storage.

What to Do After Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

What to Do After Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
After digging up your sweet potatoes, proper post-harvest care is crucial for enjoying your crop throughout the winter months. To maximize storability and flavor, cure freshly harvested potatoes for 7-14 days in a warm, humid location before moving them to a cool, dry storage area.

Freezing fully cooked potatoes also preserves your harvest in an accessible form.

Curing Your Harvest

After digging up the tubers, it is vital to let them air dry before storing to toughen the skin.

Air Drying Process
Air dry in shade for 2-3 hours Prevents moisture buildup
Move to a warm (80°F), dry area Initiates the curing process
Cure for 1-2 weeks Toughens the skin, increases sugars

Proper curing conditions like temperature, humidity, and airflow are crucial for long-term sweet potato storage. Varieties with thicker skins can better withstand curing and storage. With the right curing and storage methods, you will enjoy harvest flavors all winter long.

Storing Sweet Potatoes

Now that they’ve been cured, keep the precious spuds snoozing peacefully through winter in dry, dark quarters where airflow sings them a gentle lullaby. For long-term preservation, crates or boxes with good ventilation are an accessible option.

Maintain cool, dry, dark conditions around 60°F and high humidity. Freezing is suitable for small crops; boil and cool the tubers first. Choose varieties suited to your climate. With proper harvesting and ideal storage conditions, enjoy your sweet potato harvest all winter long.


You’ll want to boil and cool your spuds before putting ’em in the freezer.

  1. Boil sweet potatoes for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft.
  2. Place the cooked sweet potatoes in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes to stop the cooking process.
  3. Peel, cut, and pack the sweet potatoes into airtight freezer bags or containers.

Freezing allows you to enjoy sweet potatoes all year. Just thaw before roasting or using in recipes. The boiling step prevents oxidation and improves texture. Use within 8-12 months for best quality.


Harvesting sweet potatoes is a rewarding experience that can provide delicious, nutritious food for months to come. Achieving the optimal harvest and storage requires timing, technique, and the right conditions.

When the leaves start to yellow, around 100-110 days after planting, it’s time to harvest. Make sure to use a garden fork to gently free sweet potatoes, avoiding damage to delicate roots.

After harvesting, curing is essential for storage. Move cured roots to a warm, dry, and well-ventilated area for 10-14 days.

Finally, store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place for up to 6 months. With the proper harvesting and storage techniques, sweet potatoes can provide a nutritious winter storage option for your family.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.