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Southern Produce aligned for a great sweet potato crop

“This season’s harvest schedule is expected to run from August 20 through October 25,” said Stewart Precythe, president and chief operating officer for Southern Produce Distributors Inc., headquartered in Faison, NC. “We have experienced an exceptionally good growing season this year compared to that of last year. There were a few setbacks early on with cool nights holding back our sprouts, which also put planting behind. After planting, however, we encountered excellent growing conditions which included ample rain and cooler than normal nights. This is evident in the excellent quality of our early dug potatoes.”

SPD-photo-2Stewart Precythe, Sterling Cookand Kelley Precythe,.Precythe noted that the company’s crop will be larger than that of last year, but nevertheless it will be a normal crop year by all standards. The cold, wet, rainy conditions of last year pushed its crop down by 10,000 acres, but the 2014 crop is now back to its normal production numbers.

“We are planning on putting the majority of our new crop into curing for storage so that we can easily transition into new crop cured,” he added.

Southern Produce’s distribution region has not changed, and Precythe said that the company continues to follow its long-term marketing strategy.

The company also exports its sweet potatoes to foreign countries, and he said that growth in the international market remains average while demand continues to increase.

“But risk in the export market remains high due to numerous factors,” he noted.

Southern Produce has continued its internal realignment strategy for its key employees to ensure that growth in its business is managed successfully.

“We continue to expand our focus on our food safety and traceability functionality while packing line efficiency continues to improve through new technologies and management oversight,” said Precythe. “After 50-plus years in the business, I continue to remain active and will continue to remain active. But I foresee Sterling Cook, our chief financial officer, and my son Kelley Precythe, vice president of our company, continuing to take over the reins at Southern Produce. My hope is that I will be around for years to come so that I can continue to supervise Southern’s expansion efforts in the domestic and international markets.”