Farm Advice from W.M. Barton, County Agricultural Agent, from the Rockingham Post-Dispatch, October 19, 1922
Three men in the county have produced approximately 600 bushels of sweet potatoes this year, and each constructed a curing house in which to keep them. I figure that 6,000 bushels will just about supply the demand of the three downs, Rockingham, Hamlet and Ellerbe, not including the hilled potatoes that will be for sale by small producers. One farmer who has five acres and no curing house has been offered 50 cents per bushel in the field. I understand that potatoes are being sold on the local markets to merchants at 50 cents, and at digging time, when the “dumping” sale begins, they will probably bring 25 cents. The curing house man can wait ‘till the “dumping” sale is over. His potatoes will keep until next spring and he can even ship potatoes north and west, but without a knowledge of the needs in the various markets at different times, he may make some mistakes even if he deals with reliable commission merchants. He is just as apt to get a bill for freight charges as he is to get a check for the potatoes, especially if he ships to a market already glutted.
Intelligent Distribution Only Remedy
No individual grower can afford to keep salesmen in all the outside markets to sell his potatoes. Ten counties in North Carolina, however, with hundreds of thousands of bushels of potatoes, all counties federated in one organization, has a hired, reliable salesman in each of 350 big northern and western cities, and these 350 salesmen have approximately 10,000 car lot customers who buy sweet potatoes. Each representative informs each day by wire the needs of his market and the price the market will pay. Hence the head of the federation knows each informs each day where potatoes are wanted worse and where they will bring the best price and knows how many cars each market will take.
It can be seen, therefore, that the only way to sell sweet potatoes is through a co-operative marketing association which controls enough potatoes to justify such methods of selling.
Don’t therefore, produce sweet potatoes more than for home use next year unless you expect to sell through such an organization.
Banks have agreed to finance co-operative sweet potato curing houses for co-operative marketing of the product next year. If you want this service, you can get it by applying promptly. Nobody is going to over-persuade you to take this step now. Sir Weevil will attend to that just a little later if your eyes are not already fully open to the situation.