North America, Production/Agronomy

Reasons why Idaho farmers do not grow sweet potatoes

Potatoes are in Idaho’s DNA. But for all the Gem State’s spud supremacy, the sweet potatoes on your Thanksgiving table almost certainly didn’t come from here.

Sweet potatoes — which aren’t actually potatoes — and regular potatoes require very different growing conditions.

Idaho’s agricultural strength often stems from its hot days and cool nights. Sweet potatoes tend to do better in more tropical environments.

“They need really hot temperatures for a long period of time,” University of Idaho Extension Horticulture Educator for Twin Falls County Andy West said.

It takes about 150 frost-free days to grow sweet potatoes, and Idaho can’t meet those conditions. Sweet potatoes do better in more fertile soils too, while Idaho typically has sandy, silty loams along the Snake River.

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