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SWEET SUCCESS


Continued from Page 13 Gary Disse, Hydro Sweet Potato Co. regional manager, agrees the


sweet potato is a high-input crop. The company works with 1,439 acres in western Oklahoma yielding an average of 350,000, 100-lb bags. Visu- ally, that amounts to 700 semi loads of the spud.


2012 marks the third year of sweet potato harvests for the company. Disse said the drought conditions have made crop production hard on everyone, but they still have garnered yields of average or a little better for their gamble.


“If you have a bad year and lose, there’s not any insurance for sweet


potatoes. But I’ve yet to see a get-rich-quick crop,” he said with a good- natured chuckle.


Disse said after 22 years in the Irish potato business, the sweet spud began catching the company’s eye.


“Four years ago sweet potato fries started to become popular at res-


taurants as appetizers and that’s basically how it got started,” Disse said. “People seem to really like them and they are better for you than a white potato.”


Burger King (BK®), the second largest fast food hamburger chain in


the world, offered sweet potato fries this summer as a part of the chain’s Limited Time Only (LTO) summertime, BBQ-inspired menu items.


“The Sweet Potato Fries are a sweet and savory alternative to our clas-


sic fry that are homegrown and nutrient packed,” according to Helen Meyers, public relations account executive for BK®.


If you purchase these fries from BK® restaurants around the state,


they’ve likely been made from Hydro Sweet Potato Co. spuds. The com- pany has a purchasing agreement for the LTO offering to buy fresh and local for the region.


Meyers said the fast food giant conducted extensive consumer trials for months. She said the fries collected a favorable consumer response. However, to enjoy the last of these fries, consumers may have to act fast.


“Certain BK® menu items are only available for a limited time and


rotate seasonally to make room for new consumer tastes and the latest product innovations,” Meyers said. “At this time there are no plans to extend this LTO item to a full-time offering, however it is always a pos- sibility based on popular demand.”


Meyers said fan favorites sweet potato fries are still available into the


fall while supplies last thanks to consumer demand, despite the side’s initial seasonal summer introduction.


Disse said there are other fast food chains in addition to BK® that al-


ready have sweet potato fries or are looking at adding them. McDonald’s would be the largest chain to take the concept on, but Disse said there needs to be several years of consistent yields to satisfy such a big buyer.


Sweet potato harvest in the state will run until November 15, but if it’s a big year the reaping will take longer.


“Right now we’re still getting this perfected,” Disse said. “I think the demand is good, and it’s increasing every year.”


To learn more about sweet potato production in Oklahoma, visit the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service at www.oces.okstate.edu to contact a specialist in your area.


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