Do Deer Eat Sweet Potatoes? (and Deer-Proofing Your Garden)

As a gardener and deer enthusiast, I know how frustrating it can be to have your sweet potato harvest eaten by wild animals. Could it be deer? Do deer eat sweet potatoes? Keep reading to find out how to deer-proof your garden and grow yams without worrying about them being eaten.

Deer are known to be herbivores and their diet consists mostly of leaves, fruits, and stems. Sweet potatoes are among their favorite food, and they also consume other potato varieties. When planning an outdoor garden, it is essential to know what deer eat to ensure that your produce will not be damaged. Sweet potatoes are a great option for a garden as it not only pleases the deer but can also provide a bountiful harvest.

Do Deer Eat Sweet Potatoes?

Yes, deer eat sweet potatoes! In fact, sweet potatoes are among the favorite foods of deer and they are known to consume other potato varieties as well. They may consume the tubers, the leaves, and the vines. With this in mind, it’s important to learn how to identify deer damage to your garden if you plan on growing sweet potatoes.

Identifying Deer Damage

If you notice plants with leaves that look as if they have been trimmed down with scissors, or stems that have been cleanly cut off, this could be a sign of deer damage. Deer tend to feed on plants at the height that is most comfortable for them, so this sort of damage usually occurs at the six-foot mark or lower. In addition, you may come across animal tracks near your sweet potato crops.

Knowing how to identify deer damage to your sweet potato crops is important because it can help you better understand how to prevent it. Plus, it’s important to ensure that the animals don’t devour your harvest before you have a chance to!

The Potential of Sweet Potatoes as Deer Feed

As mentioned earlier, sweet potatoes are a great option for a garden that can both please deer and provide you with a bountiful harvest. If you want to use sweet potatoes as a food source for deer, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure to plant enough sweet potatoes to sustain the deer population in your area.
  2. Consider planting the sweet potatoes in an area that’s protected from predators such as coyotes or bobcats.
  3. Be aware that planting sweet potatoes specifically to feed deer may attract other wildlife to your garden, including rabbits and groundhogs.

How to Prevent Deer Damage to Sweet Potato Crops


Fencing is one of the most effective ways to protect your sweet potato crops from deer damage. A physical barrier between your crops and the deer will prevent them from accessing the plants. The fence should be at least six-feet tall and buried at least one foot deep in the ground to prevent deer from jumping over or digging under it.

Electric fences can also be useful, but they should be constantly electrified to ensure that the deer can’t get through. You can also use visual deterrents such as streamers or reflectors to scare deer away from your fence.


Repellents can be a useful tool to keep deer from eating your sweet potato crops. You can use a variety of different methods, including sprays, granules, and electronic devices.

Some popular deer repellents are hot pepper spray, garlic spray, and predator urine. These can be sprayed directly on your sweet potato plants or placed around the garden to deter deer. Electronic repellents work by emitting a high-pitched noise that is unpleasant to deer but not harmful to humans.

Scare Tactics

Scare tactics can also be effective at preventing deer damage to sweet potato crops. You can use noise makers, such as wind chimes or radios, to scare away deer. Motion-activated sprinklers and lights can also be effective, as deer are easily spooked by sudden movements or bright lights.

Environmental Considerations

The Time of Year

The time of year can have a big impact on how likely deer are to eat your sweet potato crops. During the winter months, when food is scarce, deer are more likely to forage on crops. In the spring and summer, when there is more vegetation available, they may be less likely to eat your sweet potatoes.

In addition, it’s important to monitor your crops during the different growing stages: if a tender sprout emerges, deer are likely to come and check it out. At the end of the growing period, when the sweet potatoes are at peak, it’s important to keep an eye on them to ensure that the deer don’t eat them before you have a chance to harvest them.

By taking the necessary precautions and being mindful of the environmental factors that can influence deer behavior, you can successfully grow a sweet potato garden that will provide sustenance for both you and the local wildlife.

The Weather

The weather plays a significant role in deer foraging on sweet potatoes. During the hot summer months, deer tend to search for sources of water rather than food sources. However, if there is a lack of water, the foraging time for deer increases, and they become more desperate to find food.

In these situations, sweet potatoes and other crops become more susceptible to deer damage.Additionally, if there is a lack of rain, the ground dries up quickly, making it more difficult for farmers to grow their crops successfully. When the ground is dry, it becomes like concrete, making it challenging for plants to grow, and it also makes it easier for deer to dig up sweet potatoes from the ground. Therefore, it is essential to keep the ground moist by watering the crop regularly, especially during the dry season.

The Size of the Plantation

The size of the plantation also plays a significant role in deer damage to sweet potato crops. When there is a large plantation, there is often a higher level of deer foraging, which can ultimately lead to more significant damage and loss of crops.

On the other hand, smaller plantations have a lower level of deer traffic and, therefore, less likely to experience significant damage.Farmers can use various strategies to minimize the damage to sweet potato crops when planting on large plantations. Creating smaller plots or using barriers, such as fences or walls, can help farmers control the deer‘s access to the plantation.

The Local Deer Population

Finally, understanding the local deer population is vital when planting sweet potatoes. If the local deer population is high, the damage to crops is likely to be more significant. Deer populations can vary from region to region, and their migration patterns play a significant role in the damage they cause to crops.Farmers can reduce the impact of deer foraging by using various deterrent methods.

For instance, repellents can be used to create an unpleasant taste or scent to keep the deer away. Farmers can also use scare tactics such as artificial lights, loud noises, and shiny objects, which can make deer feel uneasy and avoid the location. Overall, understanding the local deer population and their habits can help farmers take the necessary precautions to prevent damage to sweet potato crops.


So, do deer eat sweet potatoes? Yes, they absolutely do! But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your crop to the whims of these wild herbivores. With a few simple measures, you can safeguard your sweet potato bounty and enjoy a flourishing garden that’s both deer-friendly and human-friendly.

From installing deer-resistant fencing to choosing strategic planting locations, there are plenty of ways to keep your sweet potatoes safe from even the hungriest of deer. So don’t let these pesky pests get the best of your garden – take charge today and start enjoying your own homegrown sweet potatoes in no time!

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