Category Archives: Grow big sweet potatoes in Kenya

How to Grow Bigger Sweet Potatoes in Kenya

Large sweet potatoes being sold by the roadside in Western Kenya
Large sweet potatoes being sold by the roadside in Western Kenya

Sweet potatoes are fairly easy to grow but very few Kenyan farmers realize the full potential of their sweet potato crop. This usually happens when the sweet potatoes are smaller in size and hence fetch a lower price in the market. Larger and bigger sweet potatoes always mean more money in your pockets. Here are some tips on how to make sure that your sweet potatoes are bigger:-

Dig deeper

There is a reason why we emphasized land preparation and mound preparation as some of the most important steps when it comes to sweet potato farming in Kenya. And when it comes to land preparation, it is always advisable to dig deeper into the soil so as to promote the growth of larger-sized sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes love loose and un-compacted soil where they can grow to very good sizes. It is also easier to harvest your sweet potatoes from a loose and un-compacted soils than from hardened soils. Deep, loose and un-compacted soils will add extra spaces in the soil for the sweet potato root tuber development. When prepping land, bury the organic matter into the soils so as to loosen up the soil. However, weeds are not supposed to be buried in the soil as they are likely to sprout when it begins to rain. Instead, collect the weeds and burn them up.

Plant at the right time

Sweet potatoes love mild rains and hotter temperatures so don’t be too eager to plant your sweet potatoes that you plant them even before the onset of rains or during very cold weather. In Kenya, the weather is mostly favourable throughout the year in the areas conducive for sweet potato growing.

Plant at the onset rains

If you plant your sweet potatoes during the dry seasons, they are either all going to wither off or if they survive, they will produce small sized and fewer sweet potatoes and you will have wasted a season. Sweet potatoes require sunshine and moist soils so it is always advisable to plant at the onset of rains.

The most important period in the life of sweet potatoes is the first two weeks. This is the period when they need to be well watered in order to sprout well.

Keeping your sweet potato vines in check

The sweet potato varieties grown in Kenya including the yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, the orange fleshed sweet potatoes and even the white skinned-white fleshed sweet potato varieties are vining types. They spread their vines around laterally. If the conditions are right such as fertile soils and plenty of rainfall, the tendril growth can be quite vigorous. While this can be a good thing initially, excessive vining will actually impede your yield. The excess stems and leaves can actually be a burden; eating too much space, impeding sunshine for other sweet potato plants and depleting the minerals in the soil. At some point, it is advisable to prune off some of the excess vining. These can be used as compost or replanted elsewhere. Ideally, allow for tendril growth for up to three feet within the mother sweet potato plant to prevent excessive vining from preventing the formation of large sweet potatoes. Keeping the vines well pruned will also make harvesting your sweet potato crop in Kenya a lot easier.