Farmers pack sweet potatoes in Vidalia

Farmers pack sweet potatoes

Chances are you enjoyed a Vidalia onion this summer. 

The area down I-16 just past Dublin is known for its special soil.

Now some farmers are taking that dirt and turning over a new crop that they eventually hope gains the same sweet recognition.

This October, several packing sheds in Vidalia and surrounding counties have come to life.

Pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes roll down the lines at Bland Farms.

Bland Farms is a big operation in the spring. Now they're stretching it throughout the year to include sweep potatoes.

“The market is developing as we talk," Delbert said.  "The door was open with the onions, and now we're just walking through it with potatoes.”

Bland says sweet potatoes have gained a lot popularity with their health benefits.

Nutritionfacts.org among other sites label the spuds a superfood. That fact didn't go unnoticed by farmers looking to turn a profit.

“The first year, we had about 5 acres, then we went up to 200, then we went up to 500 and we're at 1,200 this year," he explained.  "We'll be doing up to 2,000 next year.”

Bland says the root vegetable is now about 15 percent of his business, a figure he feels will sprout higher down the road.

“20-25 percent in the near future,” he surmised.

The petites may wind up on your table. 

The big boys, they will get smashed down into cans.

“The larger ones are used for anything from dog food to baby food.”

So look for the Vidalia label to roll through this fall on a product that's known for its sweetness and a growing Central Georgia reputation.


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