First sweet potato patents awarded

Linda Benedict, Bogren, Richard C.  |  2/16/2010 3:03:47 AM

Two sweet potato varieties developed by the LSU AgCenter recently were awarded U.S. patents – the first ones given to sweet potatoes.

“The patents protect our varieties on behalf of the interests of our growers,” said Don La Bonte, plant breeder who developed the new varieties. “Any funds derived from royalties would contribute to the enrichment of our program.”

One of the patented varieties is Bienville, released in 2002. This variety is resistant to the southern root knot nematode.

The southern root knot nematode normally is found in lighter-textured, sandy soils in areas such as Morehouse and Bienville parishes, La Bonte said, adding that the pests have not been a problem in most sweet potato production areas of the state.

With its nematode resistance, the new variety allows growers to reduce costs by using less pesticide while maintaining product yield and quality, La Bonte said.

“Bienville fills a niche,” La Bonte said. “But Beauregard will still be the standard.”

Beauregard, developed by the LSU AgCenter and released in 1987, is considered by many to be the premier sweet potato variety in the United States.

The other variety that received a patent is named 96-117 and is mainly grown for baby food processors.

“It’s a great processing sweet potato that makes good baby food puree and is attractive as a canned sweet potato,” La Bonte said. “It’s sweet and flavorful.”

Rick Bogren

(This article appeared in the spring 2004 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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