Sweet Potato "Seed" Available from LSU AgCenter

(News article for December 12, 2020)

The sweet potato – believed to be native to tropical areas of South America – is well-adapted to our hot, humid summers. Louisiana is one of the United States’ top sweet potato-producing states, and the LSU AgCenter has one of only three public sweet potato breeding programs in the country.

Growing sweet potatoes is different from growing Irish potatoes or vegetables that are grown from true seed. The production cycle begins when sweet potatoes (“seed”) from the previous harvest season are planted in the spring, to produce “slips” for transplanting.

Gardeners who just want to plant a few hills of sweet potatoes can often find slips to purchase at local garden centers. Slips can be planted between late April and the end of June in southern Louisiana.

Those who plan to plant a large area of sweet potatoes or want a specific variety may prefer to grow their own slips. A 40 pound box of seed roots can be expected to produce approximately 400 to 800 slips. Since slips are typically planted one foot apart, this is enough to plant about 400 to 800 feet of row.

Sweet potatoes can be “bedded” for slip production beginning around mid-March in southern Louisiana. Allow six to eight weeks for slips to grow.

It’s important that the roots used for slip production be free of disease and of good quality. The LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station offers seed potatoes grown from virus-tested planting material through its foundation seed program.

Varieties Beauregard and Evangeline are available for $18.50 per 40 pound box, while Orleans and Bayou Belle are offered at $25 per box. Bellevue, O’Henry, Porto Rico, and Texas Porto Rico are also available at $25 per box, but only small quantities are available.

Beauregard is a classic Louisiana sweet potato variety that was released by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station in 1987. Orleans is similar to Beauregard but produces more uniform roots. This is important for commercial growers who are trying to maximize production of U.S. No. 1 grade sweet potatoes but probably not that important in a home garden.

Evangeline produces roots that have a high sucrose content and taste especially sweet. While microwaving typically does not result in sweet potatoes that are as sweet as those baked in an oven, because of its high sucrose content, Evangeline sweet potatoes can be microwaved and still taste sweet.

From a production standpoint, Evangeline has the advantage of being resistant to root knot nematodes. However, the plant is less vigorous than some varieties. It’s advised that people wait until April, when temperatures are warmer, to bed Evangeline roots for slip production.

Information about other varieties can be found on the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station’s website.

If you would like to place a sweet potato seed order, please contact me by Thursday, January 7. (If you’re in a parish other than Tangipahoa or Washington, please contact the LSU AgCenter Extension office in your parish.)

Under sweetpotato weevil quarantine regulations, growers in southern Louisiana who raise sweet potatoes to sell are required to have a Sweet Potato Dealer’s Permit from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Home gardeners are not required to have a permit but are encouraged to take measures to reduce weevil populations.

Let me know if you have questions.

Contact Mary Helen Ferguson.

Evangeline-fromLSUAgCenterCommunicationsjpgEvangeline sweet potatoes.
(Photo source: LSU AgCenter Communications)


BeauregardB63jpgjpg

Beauregard sweet potatoes.
(Photo source: LSU AgCenter Communications)

12/17/2020 2:23:43 PM
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