A young specialty manufacturer working on a sweet future in Champagne County

Sixteen-year-old Jill Uken helps gardeners and fruit growers ask for an unusual crop in Champagne County. Then Mahomet-Simor High School Junior 500 shows potato plants growing as evidence of agronomy.

“Most people do not grow potatoes in Illinois,” says Ekino.

Brad Uken, manager of the company’s County Bureau of Agriculture, and his wife, Christine, are growing their second crop in 75 by 75 plots near Mahomet. During the Illinois State Exhibition Exhibition, the Illinois Special Farmers Association will work as a day laborer at the Illinois Department of Agriculture Tent on the afternoon of August 12:30.

Planting begins only after the potential for final frost conditions. By hand, he planted the 6-inch potato “plugs” from a Tennessee supplier. Two inches below the ground, the rest is above the soil surface. Planting a few hours before sunset will prevent the plugs from drying out. Ukun is currently growing two species. It is best to bake a large potato.

The young producer has so far encountered a few pests and no disease problems. Deer prefer sweet grapes, and the Japanese beetles enter the old crop, but the UK uses a mixture of soap and water to wash the beetles from the plants.

Potatoes Potatoes are very susceptible to frost. Around the first week of October, Ukun planned to dig her crop by hand, but last year she was surprised by the early snow.

“It was frozen, and two days later, the grapes were all black. We (sweet potatoes) got out of the ground as soon as possible. ” On average, farmers harvest 3 pounds of sweet potatoes per plant.

After the sweet potatoes were dug up, Uken spread them on the balcony under the roof for healing. The newly harvested crop is soft and needs to be cleaned up slowly. Uken allows the harvested potatoes to rest for seven to 10 days, allowing starch to turn into sugar and the skin to heal.

The young producer sells her bag of crops in pounds. Last year, when the expected restaurant and food markets closed, the outbreak stopped Uken. Instead, the teenager started marketing potatoes on @jills_sweet_potatoes_il on Instagram, and will continue this fall. She sold her crop in an outdoor booth in Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch, Champani, and planned to sell it there again this fall.

Uken can thank his two older brothers, Nicholas and Tyler, who started the family’s sweet potato business. Not only did Uken’s younger sister not only harvest the crop, but the FFA also oversaw the SAE project. Her unique crop has identified UK as the only special crop SAE in her class, but this year she joined another FFA member who grows pumpkins.

As Champa County’s youngest potato producer awaits its second harvest, the UK will update its friend by sharing images of its latest crop growth and may be tempted to join her for a sweet harvest this fall.

This story was disseminated through a collaboration project between the Illinois Agricultural Bureau and the Illinois Press Association.


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