Sweet Potato Farming A Profitable Business

WYNNE (KAIT) The Matthews family has been raising sweet potatoes outside Wynne for over a hundred years. It's a sweet business, to get those orange beauties from their fields to your kitchen.

You have to look real hard to find a sweet potato farm in Arkansas. There are only about 5 or 6 compared to our southern neighbors.

Browne Matthews Jr. "Where you go to like Mississippi or Louisiana or North Carolina where there's probably a hundred in each state."

The Matthews family has been raising sweet potatoes for over a hundred years.

Browne Matthews is a fourth generation potato farmer. He says their real busy season just ended.

"September to after Thanksgiving. Till Thanksgiving is over with and then it slows down after that. You're pretty busy for three months, Sept, Oct, November."

It looked pretty busy to me as I watched the cleaning and sorting process. Very hands on.

Matthews, "Pretty labor intensive, lotta labor, when we're digging potatoes we work about 55 people out here."

Some of that labor includes his dad Browne Matthews Sr. His mom Nedra who works in the office with browns' wife Samantha and Garrett their son who worked with grandma on the line today.

In the coolers are hundreds of crates of sweet potatoes waiting to be processed.

Matthews, "We pre-wet them first then we bring them in the back, we dump them in the vat the water vat, they come through the washer and then we start hand grading them right there. Then we do the final grade on this end and we catch em and stack them on pallets to send them out on trucks. "

And the word out in the scientific world is that the sweet potato is actually better for you than broccoli. And you can't make french fries out of broccoli.

Nedra Matthews, "Nutritionally it's very good for you. They have done studies and they have found out that it actually surpasses broccoli which was the number 1 vegetable."

But is it really a vegetable?

Matthews, "I'm afraid not. It's a root but they are calling it a vegetable ."

Root, vegetable, sweet potato, yam or tater. What ever you call it. They taste good and that's what matters to the Matthews family.

Browne Matthews, "People say good things about my potatoes. They like them, they say they're good and sweet. That's what I probably like best. People enjoy what they are getting from me. I really like that."