8 steps to a sweet potato!
We currently produce on 100 hectars sweet potatoes.
1. Before we can start, we need to prepare the soil
Before we can plant sweet potatoes we have to prepare our soils thoroughly. In early February, we start with the slip production and prior to that we have to plough our soils, loosen them and get them fertilized. With all these measures we make sure that our sweet potatoes can prosper the best way. The first step in succesfully harvesting quality sweet potatoes is having fertile irrigated land and quality seed. In order to realize a good harvest, irrigantion is essential: In the growers region of the Alentejo we rely on a vast irrigation system with abundance of water coming from the Santa Clara dam. Also we use the best commercially available virus free certified seedstock in order to get a healthy, disease-free and uniform crop.
2. Let´s start small: Slip production
After the grounds have been prepared for the planting, the seed production starts. The seeds are being bred from last year´s sweet potatoe that are planted into the fields. These sweet potatoes are sprouting in the grounds, are growing and come to the surface at one point.
In the next step, the sprouts are cut and they form the base for the next sweet potato plant as from their roots the new sweet potato is growing. The small potato plants have to be nourished over the next couple of weeks so that they grow the best way. This nourishing programme includes protection against cold, fertilizing to ensure growth, irrigation, pest control.
3. Let's cut it: Cutting the slips
Now we can start: As soon as the sprouts reached a size of 30cm, they are cut close to the ground and are stored for two to three days in the shade.
The storing helps the sprouts to start rooting which supports a faster growing process in the grounds. After the sweet potato has rooted, the slips are planted into the fields. We use precision disc transplanters to ensure uniform rows with correct spacing inbetween the plants and the whole workflow is done within one step.
We would like to give you an idea about the dimensions: In one hectar 35.000 und 40.000 slips are planted. our average weekly planting performance is around ten hectars.
4. Good things need to grow: production
Now we have to sit and wait: Our sweet potatoes are growing at the sprouted ends of the slips bevor we can start harvesting. The sweet potato plant or its fruit has to reach an average weight of 1kg. This takes depending on the crop between 90 and 120 days. During this time we support the growing process with the most modern drip and pivot irrigation systems. The irrigation water comes from the nearby dam of Santa Clara.
5. The biggest reward: harvesting
It takes two steps to harvest sweet potatoes. In the first step we cut the leafs and roots off the sweet potato plant with the help of machines. The experts call this process leaf pulling. The sweet potato remains in the grounds after pulling the leafs. It is extracted from the grounds with a harvesting machine.
Then it is transported over conveyor belts that shake constantly so that it looses the remainders of the earth.
As the sweet potato skin is very sensitive we have developed a special harvesting machine that handles the crop gently and makes sure it gets into the boxes without any injuries.
6. Anti-Aging treatment: Curing
A special production step within the sweet potato production is the so called curing. The harvested sweet potatos are not being washed and sorted directly but are transported into the curing rooms. There they remain for three to four days at 30 degrees. This curing helps the sweet potato to close its skin properly after harvesting and to heal harvesting wounds. This special treatment helps to store the potato up to one year if it is stored at its suitable conditions.
7. Let´s store it!
Our state of the art temperature controlled storing facilities are set up for sweet potato storing. The sweet potatos are brought here after the curing process and wait here for their buyers. The storage facilities have been set up to the special needs of sweet potatos in terms of temperature controll and humidity. Like this, we can guarantee the best possible quality.
8. Sorted by your demand!
Our state of the art sorting line is a real allrounder: After your order the sweet potatoes are taken from the storage facilities straight to the sorting line. Here they undergo washing and cleaning, After being cleaned they are transported on a conveyor belt and pass a visual sorting computer that sorts according to size. The sorted sweet potatos are directly placed into transport boxes. From here they are palletized and can be sent out straight away to our customers.