Research Station Profile

The Sweet Potato Research Station is located approximately 5 miles south of Winnsboro on La. Highway 15.

130 Sweet Potato Road, P.O. Box 120, Chase, LA 71324
Phone: 318-435-2155
Fax: 318-435-2110
Office Hours: 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday-Friday
Email: tsmith@agcenter.lsu.edu

LSUAgCenter.com/Sweetpotato and LSUAgCenter.com/sweetpotatostation


Size: 308 acres, including 140 acres of cropland and 130 acres of woodland.

Contact: Dr. Tara P. Smith, Extension Specialist/Research Coordinator

Sweet Potato Research Focus is to enhance production of sweet potatoes:

  • Virus-tested foundation seed program
  • All aspects of sweet potato production and improvement
  • Sweet potato variety development
  • Improving production efficiency and management
  • Insect, weed and disease management

Outreach and Extension
Results of sweet potato research programs are communicated to the sweet potato industry by extension specialists and county agents. Rapid dissemination of production and pest management information to the industry is the ultimate goal of the sweet potato outreach programs. In turn, advisory meetings with producers and industry representatives ensure researchers and extension personnel are aware of and are addressing critical issues in a timely manner.Research Highlights The LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station is the only research station in the United States solely devoted to sweet potato research and development. The mission of the station is to produce high-quality planting material to serve the commercial sweet potato industry and to conduct research in various disciplines to enhance production of sweet potatoes, including breeding, cultural practices and pest management.

Research Highlights
The LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station is the only research station in the United States solely devoted to sweet potato research and development. The mission of the station is to produce high-quality planting material to serve the commercial sweet potato industry and to conduct research in various disciplines to enhance production of sweet potatoes, including breeding, cultural practices and pest management.

Foundation Seed Program
The main goal of the foundation seed program is to maintain the integrity and quality of commercial sweet potato varieties. The foundation seed program has long served the Louisiana sweet potato industry by providing high-quality planting stock to commercial producers. The seed, which is grown under strict guidelines outlined by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, is purchased by producers, who incorporate the seed into their on-farm seed programs. The Sweet Potato Research Station serves all parishes involved in sweet potato production in Louisiana. In addition to satisfying in-state needs, the station also supplies seed to out-of-state producers if enough is available. In 2007, the station began working with domestic and international entities to supply transplants for propagation purposes. This is a testament to its national and international reputation as a premier supplier of sweet potato planting stock.

Breeding
The LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Breeding Program is one of only three active breeding programs in the United States. Varieties developed at the Sweet Potato Research Station are grown not only in Louisiana but throughout the United States and around the world.

Two of the three popular orange-flesh commercial varieties grown in the United States today, Beauregard and Evangeline, were developed and released from the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Breeding Program. In addition to Beauregard and Evangeline, other varieties developed at the Sweet Potato Research Station are grown on a limited commercial scale throughout the United States, including Murasaki-29, O’Henry, Hernandez and Porto Rico.

Significance of Sweet Potato Research

  • Production of virus-tested foundation seed sustains commercial sweet potato producers in Louisiana.
  • Sweet potato varieties developed at the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station are grown not only in Louisiana but throughout the United States and around the world.
  • Production research at the Sweet Potato Research Station is improving production efficiency and increasing yields, ultimately contributing to the state’s economy.
  • LSU AgCenter sweet potato research and outreach programs have positively contributed to growth in the value-added sector of the industry and resulted in significant economic development opportunities being realized in Louisiana.

    2009 Sweet Potato Industry Facts
  • 14,000 acres of sweet potatoes in production.
  • On average, 300 bushels of sweet potatoes produced per acre.
  • More than 3.8 million bushels of sweet potatoes produced in state during 2009.
  • Sweet potatoes are produced commercially in nine parishes.
  • Total farm-gate value of sweet potato production was $49 million, and value-added production was $36 million, for a total economic contribution of $85 million.

Data from the Louisiana Ag Summary website: LSUAgCenter.com/agsummary

Future Plans

Economic sustainability of sweet potato producers
The LSU AgCenter recently was awarded a $2.8 million USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant for sweet potato research and outreach activities. The multidisciplinary, multistate project will extend into 2012 and will focus on improving sweet potato production efficiency, quality and food safety, ultimately contributing to the economic sustainability of sweet potato producers.

During the fall of 2009, ConAgra Lamb Weston announced intentions to build a sweet potato processing facility in north Louisiana. LSU AgCenter scientists involved with sweet potatoes will continue to work closely with all facets of the value-added sector of the industry to refine and develop production and management strategies that meet the needs of not only the fresh market but the ever-expanding sweet potato processing sector.

Other Goals:

  • Increase production efficiency, improve quality and enhance food safety awareness
  • Lead in the development and implementation of sustainable and profitable production practices for sweet potatoes
  • Use electronic communication to enhance personal contact and exposure with the industry and with policymakers
  • Create awareness among nonfarmers of the value of production agriculture
  • Work closely with producers, processors and industry representatives who are involved in the sweet potato industry

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture

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