LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station



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

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

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

Email: tsmith@agcenter.lsu.edu

Map showing the Sweet Potato Research Station plat.
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Sweet Potato Research Focus Areas:

  • 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 and plant material to other states and countries.This is a testament to the 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.

Several varieties have been released from the LSU AgCenter breeding program during the last ten years, including Evangeline, Orleans, Bayou Belle, Bellevue, Bonita and Murasaki-29.All of these varieties are grown on a commercial scale and are contributing to improved yields and quality.

Production Research

Current sweet potato production research uses an integrative approach that incorporates storage root formation as key to the development of sustainable management practices. Central to this approach is the consideration of root system architecture as an integrator of intrinsic and external cues of storage root formation. Thus, research seeks to maximize intrinsic (varietal) and external cues (nutrients) that affect root development and feed forward sink signaling for more efficient utilization of soil resources and increased adaptation and productivity in variable growing environments. An understanding of the external cues that modulate root architecture is seen as key in further understanding unexplained and persistent variability in commercial sweet potato yields and soil nutrient supply.

Significance of Sweet Potato Research

  • Sweet Potato varieties developed at the LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station are grown not only in Louisiana but throughout the United States.
  • Production research and variety development have resulted in have resulted in significant yield increases over the last several years.
  • Research conducted on production practices at the Sweet Potato Research Station increases production efficiency and contributes to the state’s economic development.
  • Production of foundation sweet potato seed developed at the Sweet Potato Research Station provides high quality planting material for sweet potato producers.

2017 Sweet Potato Industry Facts

  • More than 3.8 million bushels of sweet potatoes produced in Louisiana.
  • 9,500 acres of sweet potato in production.
  • On average, 423 bushels (50lb) of sweet potatoes produced per acre.
  • Total farm-gate value of sweet potato production was $52.9 million, and value added to sweet potato production was $39.7 million for a total economic contribution of $92.6 million.
  • Sweet potatoes are produced commercially in nine parishes

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

Future Plans

Stratifying Sweet Potato Research Station Capabilities and infrastructure through NCPN.

The National Clean Plant Network for Sweet potato (NCPN Sweet potato) is an association of clean plant centers, scientists, educators, state and federal regulators, certified seed growers, and commercial growers from the fresh market and processing industries concerned with the health of planting stock (seed roots and vine cuttings).Sweet potato formally joined the NCPN specialty crops network in 2015.The LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station is one of 6 sweet potato clean plant centers in the United States.The network operates under the umbrella of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Other Goals:

  • Develop varieties for the fresh market and processing sector
  • Conduct research to promote more efficient use of soil resources in variable growing environments
  • Maximize intrinsic (varietal) and external cues (nutrients) that affect root development
  • 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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