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North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

North Carolina Sweet PotatoesNorth Carolina ranks first in the production of this very nutritious vegetable. Approximately 36,000 acres are grown in the state. North Carolina growers produce nearly forty percent of the total U.S. production. Production is mostly limited to the coastal plain.

Johnston, Wilson, and Nash are the top three counties in terms of sweetpotato acreage. In North Carolina, Sweetpotato is written as one word, as opposed to the usual two words. Industry leaders felt the one word spelling would help in differentiating between the sweetpotato and the Irish potato. The southern sweetpotato is a root and the Irish potato is a tuber. The potato is a completely different plant, not even a distant cousin. What's in a name? When it comes to sweetpotato verses yam, there is a bit of confusion.

Sweetpotatoes have been confused with the yam , which originated in West Africa and Asia. The confusion dates back to the days of the slave trade, when slaves from Africa confused the sweetpotato with the "nyami" of their native land. The word "yam" comes from this African word. The name has been used by the industry for many years. Many sweetpotatoes are being marketed as "yams," but are actually sweetpotatoes with a vivid orange color, a soft moist consistency when cooked, and a uniquely sweet flavor. Other varieties of sweetpotatoes are lighter skinned and have a firmer, drier texture when cooked.

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes Growers/Shipper List

Cooling/Storage Requirements of North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Suitable Cooling Method(s)

Room Cooling

Optimum Temp ºF


Freezing Temp ºF


Optimum Humidity %


Normal Storage Life

6-12 months

Nick Augostini, Marketing Specialist
North Carolina Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Services
202 Cunningham Road
Kinston, NC 28501
(252) 527-7125