Jody Black, Circle C. Farms

Improved Sweet Potato Operation
Grant Award: $6,000

Jody has expanded the storage capacity for his 10-acre sweet potato operation by retrofitting a trailer for curing and storing potatoes. He added an air conditioner and heater, fan and lights to the trailer. That way he can cure potatoes at 85 degrees and 85 percent humidity for the first five to seven days after harvest, and then decrease the temperature to 55 to 60 degrees for long-term storage.

With the proper facilities, Jody can store potatoes for nine months or longer. They are kept in wooden bins so that air circulates around the potatoes, allowing them to properly “breathe.”

With three trailers for storage, Jody has enough room for the full 10 acres of potatoes. He can now dig up the crop as soon as it is ready instead of waiting until more room becomes available in the trailers, reducing crop loss by 30 percent. “This allows me to be able to move onto boxing and marketing sooner,” Jody said. “The additional storage will enable us to sell sweet potatoes almost year-round, which will allow us to capture higher prices in the off-season and spread out our farm income.”

Circle C. Farms markets full bins of sweet potatoes as well as 20 pound and 40 pound boxes through the WNC Farmers Market, Polk Fresh and local restaurants.

Jody grows more than 100 acres of field crops, including sweet corn and grain corn for deer hunters. Although he and his wife, Marybeth, both grew up on farms, they started Circle C. Farms from scratch in 2009, purchasing large machinery such as a combine, planters and tractor. They are raising three young boys on the farm, which Marybeth writes about on her blog at carolinafarmingirl.wordpress.com.

Look up Circle C Farms on Facebook.

 

Cleveland County

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