Vick Family Farms looking to grow sweet potato industry
Around May 10, planting season for sweet potatoes began at Vick Family Farms, and though things have been cooler than normal, some rain is expected to help with planting.
“We have great customers all across the United States, and in many countries across the world,” said Charlotte D. Vick, partner/sales and marketing manager for the Wilson, NC-based company. “We have built strong relationships that we value so much and continue to work with each of them to grow their sweet potato sales.”
The second quarter of 2022 has so far been the most challenging since the pandemic began for the company.
“Trucking and containers have been so hard to get in a timely manner and the quantity that we need on a daily basis,” Vick said. “Sales have been a little slower but we feel the main reason is customers haven’t been able to get product when they need it so they turn elsewhere to fill the gap. We are hoping as the year progresses this will improve, but the last four months have been extremely stressful trying to locate enough trucks to transport our orders.”
So, between logistics, labor and inflation, costs have increased to the point where this year’s crop is going to be the most expensive crop Vick Family Farms has ever put in the ground.
Vick hopes that customers recognize the challenges on the farm and understand that expenses have increased so much over the last year and continue to rise.
“We realize everyone is trying hard to watch costs, but our farmers need to be able to pass these expenses along to our customers in order for us to remain sustainable,” Vick said. “No one likes to have to increase their prices, but there isn’t anywhere else to make up for these increases without passing them along to the consumer. Sweet potatoes are extremely healthy and popular today and we want to continue to grow this industry at a responsible pace while protecting our growers so they can continue to grow the best quality sweet potatoes found in the world.”
Early indications are that the plant beds look great and the company is on track to be able to supply its own farm as well as all plant customers with beautiful healthy plants for this year.
“We hope the 2022 planting season goes well and we have a good growing season and harvest,” Vick said. “We continue to market the 2021 crop, and are on track to go cured to cured as we like to be able to do. The balance of our inventory is good and solid and we have 100 percent climate control, therefore we are able to keep potatoes at the correct temperature for the entire year.”
She credits North Carolina as having some of the best soils for growing sweet potatoes and feels fortunate that Vick Family Farms owns the majority of the farmland that the company produces on to help ensure sustainability in the future.
The company is focused on its sustainability — more so than ever before — and is looking into or already begun a number of projects that will allow Vick Family Farms to become even more sustainable, such as with carbon credits.
While Vick Family Farms put a hold on some expansion plans recently, the company does intend following thru with those hopefully before the end of 2022 or early 2023, which will bring some additional needed space to the operation.