By on 11.17.21 in NC in Focus

Ed note: Though we cover a range of demographic topics, we hold a special spot in our hearts for our annual report on NC’s state vegetable, the humble sweet potato. Previous coverage:2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014. Happy Thanksgiving!

sweet potato

The year of 2020 has been an especially challenging year for the fresh vegetable industry due to the the historic wildfires over the West Coast; the August storms in the Northern Midwest, and Hurricane Laura’s affect on Louisiana. Sweet potatoes were also adversely affected by these weather events. North Carolina, which continues to be the nation’s leader in sweet potato production, also hit with excessive rain at the end of the growing season in 2020.


North Carolina has once again been identified as the #1 sweet potato producer in the United States as the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service 2020 data show. NC has maintained its first place sweet potato rank since 1971.


Four NC counties produced more than 100 million pounds of sweet potatoes in 2020: Sampson (259M), Nash (187M), Wilson (181M), and Johnston (155M).

1.7 billion

North Carolina produced 1.7 billion pounds of sweet potatoes in 2020. Considering all the climate challenges that the farms faced, this is a promising number, despite a 0.3 decrease from the last couple of years (2 billion). That would make approximately 850 million sweet potato casseroles (and involve more than 557 million pounds of marshmallows.)

$375 Million

North Carolina’s sweet potatoes have generated a value of approximately $375 million in 2020 alone. This is a 15.7% increase from 2019 ($324 million). Sweet potatoes are ranked the third most valuable crop of NC in 2020—the first being soybeans ($674 million) and the second, corn ($483 million).


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