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Too early for slips!?

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  • Too early for slips!?

    I know, it's way too early to be starting sweet potato slips but, my tubers are sprouting! I didn't even put them in water or moist soil! Do you suppose its possible to keep these little guys alive and well until planting out (much) later? Alternatively, if i keep removing the slips will the potato keep producing them until it's really time to begin starting them? Are these early sprouting sweets not really the ones I want to be propogating anyway since their shelf life is shorter? This is my first attempt at starting my own sweets and I'm new at seed saving anyhow, so any advice will be greatly appreciated because I'm sure you guys know more than I do!

  • #2
    You're only about 5 weeks early since normal starting time would be around mid-February. If the tubers aren't in soil or water, they should not get too long. I've had them sprout but they never get big on their own. Also, the early ones won't be inferior for any reason.

    But, nothing wrong with starting them proper now. You may find it hard to believe but I have slips that are a foot long. They were started on 11-11. In a few days they will be broken off and put in water. They won't get any bigger in next 5 months as all they'll do is develop roots. The parent tubers will then produce more slips.


    • #3
      It's way too early, even here in Minnesota. The earliest we've started here is mid March and after reading Glen Drownn's sweet potato planting info we're going to hold off until April (Sandhill Preservation Center - late April or early May in Calamus, IA). If the slips are potted up too early, the roots get deformed and root bound and the spuds don't form as nicely. The plants that were moderately sized when transplanted did better than either the very large or very small. We use a quart-sized pot for our slips, so the moderately sized plants had just filled the pot with small roots without any root-bound action going on. The other factor is soil temperature at transplanting time. If your plants are ready too early, the urge to rush them out into the garden too soon will not do you any favors. The plants will just sit there, shocked by the cool conditions, and any plants put out later will more than catch up with the early birds. It also helps to prewarm the soil with a covered hoop tunnel or raised bed, even with a later transplanting date.
      Last edited by Walk; 01-07-2013, 08:12 AM. Reason: added dates


      • #4
        Rootbound problem is solved by breaking the slip off just above the roots a few weeks before planting. Slips will start over making new ones.

        I'll add that the last thing you probably want will be a lot of roots. Last year, received 60 Covington slips from a commercial grower and there wasn't a single root in the lot. Never lost a one.
        Last edited by WI LO M; 01-09-2013, 01:20 AM. Reason: Covington mention


        • #5
          Your encouragement in this new adventure in sweet potatoes is greatly appreciated and I will experiment based on your recommendations. I have removed the slips from one of my sweets (which was delicious) and have them on the window sill in water. I will remove and discard the slips from others that start on their own until it gets a bit closer to the proper time to start, though I will plant out (when soil temp is about 65 degrees) earlier than the end of June as I did with my budget slips from Sandhill last year. Thanks a bunch! My issue with the early sprouter was in the fact that the keeping quality of the tuber was not as great as later sprouting ones, not that the slip is inferior; just to clarify a muddy point.