Topashaw Farms anticipating exciting fall season
Topashaw Farms enjoys a reputation for growing the best sweet potatoes around, and it’s a reputation that has been well-earned.
Topashaw Farms, based in Vardaman, MS, grows sweet potatoes on 29,000 acres, and ships the tasty vegetables, both fresh and processed, year-round. This year’s season is just getting started, and owner-operator Joe Edmondson said crops are looking strong.
“The weather is the biggest factor and we don’t have control over that,” Edmondson said. “But the weather is going to be the main factor in growing a good crop of sweet potatoes pretty much wherever you go. We have an ideal climate for them here because we have really humid summers, and they like that.”
Thanksgiving, of course, is the biggest day of the year for sweet potatoes, followed by Easter, but the company makes sure to treat every day as something special for its customers.
“It’s pretty consistent the rest of the year,” Edmondson said.
Topashaw Farms grows its perfect potatoes by conditioning the soil to ensure the shape, size and skin quality that shoppers are looking for. The farm’s fertilizers and foliars grow the healthiest plants and best-tasting sweet potatoes that are harvested with mechanical diggers.
The coronavirus has had a huge effect on all aspects of life, but aside from one case in its package unit, Topashaw Farms has not had any direct issues with the virus. Still, it’s done its part to ensure all employees are safe and all food-safety measures are as strong as can be.
“As far as the market is concerned, there’s been a lot of inconsistency,” Edmondson said. “Where we’re fortunate is that we don’t just do a lot of wholesale. On the process side, our chip folks got hit pretty hard because the chips are sold at ballparks and stuff that like. But overall, it wasn’t as bad as we were bracing for at the beginning.”
Topashaw Farms sells its potatoes to several processors that make a variety of products, mainly chips and fries, while its fresh packs go primarily to major chain stores and some markets in bigger towns.
The firm uses two Kerian mechanical sizers and can grade multiple sizes at the same time, and its sweet potatoes are handled just once in order to protect quality. And with a storage capacity for more than 2.5 million bushels, Topashaw Farms added a second washer to its facility last year to keep up with demand.
“We were pretty much overwhelmed with what capacity we had, so we added to it,” Edmondson said. “Now, we can do a lot more things.”
Those accomplishments are building on Topashaw Farms’ remarkable legacy of success, which has spanned more than 30 years.
“I think it’s the pride we take in what we do,” Edmondson said of Topashaw Farms’ success. “We started out and we continue to do so, by taking that extra step to provide a high-quality product. It’s worked well for us and that’s what we continue to do.”