Are you growing sweet potato in Illinois, but don’t know when the best time to harvest them is?
Harvesting sweet potato is not as easy as it seems.
- Sweet Potato have a very short window when they can be harvested and still taste great.
So if you harvest them too early they may not be ready and taste bad. And if you harvest them too late they may become infected with mold, fungus, insects, etc., and become inedible.
Today, I’m going to teach you the ideal time to harvest sweet potato in Illinois:
- To Learn More About HOW to Grow Sweet Potato, Check Out This GUIDE!
When Do I Harvest Sweet Potato in Illinois?
As you may have already guessed, there are two main factors that determine when you should harvest your sweet potato: the physical features of the sweet potato & weather (time).
Harvest Sweet Potato if They Look Like This!!!
The physical features of sweet potato are what most gardeners commonly rely on to determine if they are ready to be picked off the plant or not.
In general, you should harvest sweet potato if they have the following physical features:
- The entire sweet potato is a solid red color. If the sweet potato is a lighter shade of red, it is not ready to be harvested
- The sweet potato is slightly soft. Too hard means it is not ready. Too soft means it is overripe (but still edible)
- Easily able to be deattached from the the plant. This means it has absorbed all the nutrients it needs and is ready.
Harvest Your Sweet Potato During THIS Time of Year!!!
In general, you should harvest sweet potato:
- 65 to 85 days after starting sweet potato from seed
- 40 to 50 days after planting sweet potato in your garden
- 20 to 30 days after sweet potato first appear
And no matter what, you should ALWAYS harvest your sweet potato before the first frost of the year. Frost will immediately kill your sweet potato plant and make your sweet potato inedible.
For your reference, I have created this table for average frost dates for most major cities in Illinois. If your city is not listed below you can find its Last & First Frost Dates HERE.
Illinois Last & First Frost Dates
It should be noted that you should not overly rely on the first frost of the year. The average first frost of the year is only correct 30% of the time.
Instead, pay close attention to your local weather.
When you know a frost is coming you need to take action.
- If sweet potato are in pots, bring them inside
- If sweet potato are in the ground, cover them in burlap and hope they survive
- Pick all sweet potato. If they are not ready, place them in a brown paper bag and store them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks to see if they become edible.
If you want to learn WHEN to harvest ANY Vegetable in Illinois, head over to HERE and just type in the vegetable you want to grow.