Sweet potato chilling damage

I’ve seen a lot of literature about cold damage to sweet potatoes during storage. That temps below 50 can make the interior hard and inedible.

Does this apply when they are still actively growing in the ground?

My soil temps were fairly warm, but after several nights in the 40s, I’m concerned that at least the upper part of the roots in the ground may in fact have sustained some cold damage. I dug about 75% of my roots last week, but there are still some out there. It was 39°F last night.

Are the roots still ok? Or should they just become conpost?

I’ve dug them after a night or two of frost with no apparent ill effects, other than the vines dying back.


Good to know. My soil temperature drops quickly because it’s rather sandy, so that’s my concern.

I’ve lived in central Maryland since 2007, and I don’t remember it ever getting quite this cold quite this early.

When I lived in NE Ohio, sure.

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I’m in MA; mine (Japanese Yam) is still growing. The leaves look limpy in the morning but it bounces back to normal during the day.

I scraped windshield ice 9/18/80 and that’s still the record early in my lifetime
here…so I’m thinking 4 more weeks here to grow things…then it’s only cabbage, turnips and stuff after that.

Not likely that the soil temp. Is low enough to cause root damage.
But the local old timers always told me to cut the vine tops off before , or within hours of a frost.
There seems to be something that moves from the frosted vines into the roots, causing them to spoil. In short order.
More than just temperatures
I have found this to be the case.
If the tops are cut , right at the top of the root.
They seam to handle a few light frosts in ground ok.
Best to harvest before frost.


I second everything Hillbillyhort said, but I’ll also add that my experience is that sweet potatoes are indeed extremely sensitive to cold temperatures (even quite a bit above freezing) after harvest. I’ve sold sweet potatoes to customers that have left them in their vehicles for just one night when it didn’t even freeze, and they’ve told me they went bad in very little time.


Agree. Cutting tops is effective after a frost.
Also agree. I store sweet potatoes in a dark drawer, cold storage affects the quality in a negative way.

Haven’t grown many in years, just a couple usually. Easy to purchase at markets.

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I have a sweet potato in a pot that has resprouted after Winter die back for at least 3 years now, so they seem to retain viability as seed stock in our mild Winters anyway. D

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