U.S. Sweet Potatoes: Production Declined 23% in 2018

Sweet potato harvest. Photo: Mississippi State University

Following a record-high sweet potato production year in 2017, Hurricane Florence slammed into North Carolina’s sweet potato growing region in September 2018, contributing to the largest single-year U.S. production fall in 48 years.

The 2018 U.S. sweet potato production fell 23% to 2.7 billion pounds, a decrease of more than 800 million pounds from 2017. Total sweet potato production was the lowest since 2013.

During 2015–17, North Carolina averaged 54% of total U.S. sweet potato production, but fell to 40% in 2018 as the state’s production dipped to 11 billion pounds from 19.7 billion pounds in 2017.

Other major reporting States, in order of production, include: California, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Production was mostly flat for all of these States except for California, which increased its production by 19% to 7.8 billion pounds. The average price in 2018 for sweet potatoes reacted to the national decline in production and surged to $23.90 per hundredweight—the second-largest annual increase in 27 years and a tie for the second-highest price on record (in nominal terms).

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