California ranks third in acres planted in sweet potatoes in the United States with about 25,000 acres and first in production yields per acre farmed.
Over 85% of California sweet potato production is in Merced County, geographically located in the center of the state in the most productive agricultural area in the world – the San Joaquin Valley. In Merced County, the crop has a farm gate value of more than $100 million.
California grows many types of sweet potatoes and yams, however, you typically find three kinds in the store:
As compared to other states, California grows many types of sweet potatoes. Traditionally consumers would typically find 1-3 varieties in the supermarkets, but now consumers will find that most varieties of sweet potatoes are available in many local supermarkets and Farmer’s Markets. If they are not, you can request them to your supermarket produce manager.
Sweets, O’Henry, DS White or Bonita
A dry flesh potato with a mild, nutty flavor, yellow to cream colored on the inside with light brown skin. Excellent in casseroles, side dishes or simply baked and served as an alternative to either sweet orange types or a plain Irish Potato.
Covington, Jewel or Beauregard
This is the number one selling sweet potato in the California and the United States. Bright orange, moist and sweet on the inside, copper colored on the outside. Excellent for baking, in casseroles, roasting or simply by themselves.
Diane/Garnet Sweet Potatoes (sometimes referred to as yams)
Extra moist and flavorful, these potatoes are orange on the inside with red copper to plum colored skin. The Garnet is the premium red yam and well worth the extra money if it is available. Best baked in the skin and served with butter, these sweet potatoes also do well in pies, cakes and breads.
Another important California grown sweet potato, the Oriental or Murasaki Sweet Potato, is now available in many local supermarkets and Farmer’s Markets. This variety is red or purple on the outside, with a dry white flesh and a very mild, nutty flavor.
Our newest exotic variety with its dark, vivid purple skin and vibrant purple flesh. This is a unique variety that is grown in California and sold exclusively by A.V. Thomas Produce. Very nutty and sweet flavor and dryer than orange flesh varieties. It can also be used as an eye-catching alternative in any recipe that calls for regular potatoes.