The Louisiana State University Foundation Seed Program began in 1934. The LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station, located in Chase, La., was established in 1948 through a direct appropriation of the Louisiana legislature. The mission of the station was to produce top-quality planting seed to serve the commercial sweet potato industry in our state. In 1999 the foundation seed program was upgraded to a virus-tested foundation seed program.
The current mission of the Sweet Potato Research Station is:
1) to produce virus-tested certified foundation seed of recommended sweet potato varieties, including new seedlings that have the potential of being released for commercial production
2) to conduct research on breeding, cultivar selection, cultural practices and pest management.
The main goal of the foundation seed program is to maintain the integrity and quality of commercial cultivars. The program has long worked to minimize mutations. Furthermore, because sweet potatoes are vegetatively propagated, viruses and other pathogens can accumulate and lead to cultivar decline, ultimately affecting yield and overall quality of the crop. The virus-tested tissue culture approach was integrated into the foundation seed program to address this problem. Read more about the virus-tested tissue culture technology: click here
Each year 10,000-15,000 bushels of foundation seed are produced at the Sweet Potato Research Station. The seed produced is grown under strict guidelines set forth by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The foundation seed is sold to Louisiana sweet potato producers who then incorporate the seed into their on-farm seed programs. The funds generated from seed sales each year constitute a portion of the operating budget for the station. In addition to the foundation seed produced each year, sweet potato research is conducted on 15-20 acres on the station. One of the more unique projects at the station is the planting in greenhouses of approximately 30,000 true seed from the breeding nursery in Baton Rouge. Each of these seedlings is a potential new variety.
Letters indicating the varieties available, amount and cost of foundation seed available each year are mailed to all LSU AgCenter parish extension offices in November. We ask that orders be received by the Sweet Potato Research Station no later than January 15. Allocation of foundation seed takes place in January and February each year. Minimal seed is allocated each year to out-of-state producers once all Louisiana orders have been satisfied. Current pricing information can be found below. Please contact the Sweet Potato Research Station regarding any questions you may have involving our foundation seed program or any other facet of sweet potato production. Select commercial varieties available may be subject to technology and user fees.
All other varieties, including Porto Rico, Texas Porto Rico, O’Henry, Murasaki, Bonita, and Heartogold are $25.00 per box.