Sweet potatoes are one of the most versatile and nutritious vegetables on the market today. They are a very common vegetable in many Asian cultures, though they have yet to catch on as much in the Western diet, as they are mostly thought of as a holiday food. A warm weather vegetable, sweet potatoes are grown all across the United States, but nowhere more so than these five states.
With the sweet potato as its state vegetable, it’s no surprise that North Carolina is the No. 1 sweet potato producing state in the country. According to statistics compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture, North Carolina produced, on average, 5,260,277 cwt a year from 1990 to 2007. (A cwt is a unit of measurement used in agriculture, meaning one hundred weight).
Louisiana is known for many things: the birthplace of Elvis, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Cajun food. It is not necessarily well-know for sweet potatoes, but it's the second-highest sweet potato producing state in the country, with an average of 2,795,055 cwt between 1990 to 2007. Since the sweet potato is a warm weather vegetable, Louisiana is able to grow sweet potatoes year-round. Louisiana agriculture is also composed of sugarcane, cotton and soybeans.
With its warm climate, California is an ideal state for growing many different fruits and vegetables, the sweet potato being one of them. California weighs in as the third highest sweet potato producing state in the country, with an average of 2,487,500 cwt between 1990 to 2007. California is also known for its raisins, dairy products, figs and olives. The state produces more than half the countries fruits, nuts and vegetables.
Coming in fourth in sweet potato production is Mississippi, with an average of 1,607,444 cwt from 1990 to 2007. Though most people don’t associate Mississippi with sweet potatoes, the state is known for its agriculture, as its warm climate makes it ideal for growing cotton, soybeans, rice and other plants.
Last, but not least, Texas rounds out the top five list of sweet potato producing states, with an average of 492,888 cwt per year between 1990 to 2007. As the second largest industry in the state, Texas is known for its agriculture, especially its cattle ranches, wool and cotton production. The state also grows much of the country’s corn, wheat and hay.
Jackie Stark is the education reporter for a small-town newspaper. First published in 2007, she has covered a wide range of topics, from Pres. Obama's election victory to international travel. Stark holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Northern Michigan University.