Choosing Heirloom Sweet Potato Varieties

As previously stated, I love sweet potatoes and they make up majority of my carbohydrate intake.


I found a passionate propagator of many varieties, even those that are rare, in Sand Hill Preservation. I isolated the orange-fleshed, heirloom sweet potatoes for further analysis.

Taken right from their site, the growth characteristics and maturity ratings are as follows:


Maturity Criteria

Early:  At 90 days here in Iowa these have reached full size.

Mid-season:  At 90 days here in Iowa these still have roots that need a few more weeks to bulk up.

Late:  At 90 days here in Iowa these only have about 25% of the roots mature.

Very Late:  Really nothing much at 90 days. These need around 140 days.


Plant Growth Type Criteria

This is our criteria that we use to classify the varieties’ growth habits. This is from data gathered at our farm, taking measurements from the location where the plant is growing to the distance the vines cover on one side of the plant.

Very Vigorous:  Vines go to 12 feet or more.

Vigorous:  Vines usually go from 8 to 12 feet.

Vining:  Vines go from 6 to 8 feet.

Semi-Bush:  Vines go from 4 to 6 feet.

Bush:  Vines are less than 4 feet.



Climatic conditions of my location limit me to varieties that mature early or mid-season, preferable the former. Bush and semi-bush align with the goals of my garden production by occupying limited space. As such, I applied scores to each variety based on its characteristics and employed factors to those scales based on importance. Growth Type and maturity are factored at twice the value of yield as they are more important to my goals. To be considered, the variety had to have meet a basic criteria made apparent by the following tables of scoring value.

Growth Type Score
Vining 1
Semi-Bush 2
Bush 3


Maturity Score
Mid-season 2
Early 3


Yield Score
Average 1
Above Average 2
Excellent 3


With the scoring factors applied, the growth types are as follows:

Sweet Potato-Factored

Sorted by total score:

Sweet Potato-Sorted

I now have the four varieties I want to try out! Note that the Qualls Variety is included despite a poor score because it is a Virginia Heirloom variety. Even though it does not support the economical goals of my operation, it aligns with noneconomical virtues of the farm. It could be a great producer or a dud but there is only one way to know for sure!


Also: I apologize for using grainy screenshots. When I get off of wordpress onto my own host I’ll switch to HTML tables.

Here is a link to a google doc that contains the above spreadsheet!