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Potential yields of industrial sweetpotatoes using cut seed pieces planted at various dates

Schultheis, J. R., George, N. A., Pecota, K. V., Thompson, W. B., Yencho, G. C.
Acta horticulturae 2016 no.1118 pp. 79-88
biofuels, clay loam soils, clones, labor, mechanization, planting date, production costs, sandy loam soils, sweet potatoes, North Carolina
The costs involved in producing industrial sweetpotatoes (ISPs) are a significant impediment to its feasibly as a biofuel option. Stand establishment is approximately 20% of overall sweetpotato production costs due to high labor inputs. Mechanization of planting and harvest will help to overcome this impediment. The objective of these experiments was to compare propagation methods; cut seed pieces (CSPs) versus plants used for commercial transplant establishment, and determine the effects that different planting dates have on stands and yields of high dry matter clones. Experiments were conducted in four locations: Clinton and Oxford, NC, USA in 2009 and Clinton and Kinston, NC, USA in 2011. Plantings of two high dry matter ISP clones, DM02-105 and DM02-180, were made in late April to mid-May (early season planting), near June 1(mid-season planting), and mid- to late June (late season planting) and replicated in each planting three or five times. Total yields for sweetpotatoes propagated via CSPs was comparable to transplants in some plantings. When lower yields were realized with CSPs than transplants, low plant stands typically occurred. Root yields were generally improved with early season planting than later season plantings. The DM02-105 clone consistently out yielded the DM02-180 clone; however, dry matter was higher for DM02-180 than DM02-105. Yields were generally comparable among growing locations, in the sandy loam soils of Clinton and Kinston, and the heavier clay loam soils of Oxford. These tests show that there is potential to establish sweetpotatoes using CSPs. Reasonably high yields were obtained that were comparable to standard commercial propagation using transplants.