Optimizing sweetpotato production
Monday, April 28, 2014
Study reveals best cultural practices for increasing yield, economic benefits
PONTOTOC, MS – As the popularity and convenience of sweetpotato
products increases, sweetpotato growers and processors are interested in
identifying ways to meet processor's demands and to make the crop more
widely available. A new study reveals that cultural practices such as
early planting and delaying harvest hold promise for increasing yield
and economic benefits for sweetpotato producers.
In the United States, sweetpotatoes are grown primarily for the
fresh market, where consumers prefer medium-sized, uniformly shaped
products that are free of imperfections. Ramón Arancibia, lead author of
a study in HortTechnology, explained that, unlike fresh market
products, the sweetpotato processing industry can use product of all
sizes. For making sweetpotato fries, for example, large roots are
preferred because they are longer and a more consistent fry length than
medium-sized sweetpotatoes. "In addition, shape is not as critical as it
is in the fresh market, and total yield is more important," Arancibia
said. "Because of the differences in size and quality standards for the
processing industry versus the fresh market, diverse production
strategies are necessary to optimize returns."
Arancibia and a team of researchers from Mississippi State and
Louisiana State Universities designed experiments to determine the
importance of planting and harvest dates and plant spacing in
sweetpotato cultivars Beauregard and Evangeline. The team's goal was to
identify ways to increase profitability of the growing system. The field
research was done at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Experiment Station at
Mississippi State University, and at the Louisiana State University
Agricultural Center-Sweet Potato Research Station. Treatments consisted
of a combination of early and late planting dates and delays in harvest,
in-row plant spacing, and row width.
"The experiments showed that yield increase was inconsistent with
delaying harvest, and appears to depend on environmental conditions at
harvest late in the season," the authors said. Results also indicated
that marketable yield of the sweetpotato cultivars was consistently
greater in early plantings than late plantings.
Using economic assessments, the team determined that delaying
harvest in early sweetpotato plantings showed a gain in net benefit for
both hand harvesting for fresh market and field-run bulk harvesting for
processing. "Growers need to be cognizant of the market demands and
adjust their practices accordingly to meet market expectations," the
authors said. "Prices received by growers depend on the particular grade
and market, and the difference in prices is a factor in the net benefit
and marginal rate of return when delaying harvest."
The assessments also revealed that changing plant density (within the range tested) resulted in no changes in economic benefit.
"Our results indicated that early planting and late harvest date
combination results in increased tonnage, particularly of jumbo roots
while maintaining the valuable U.S. no.1 size roots. The increase in
yield resulted in a gain in net benefit either for fresh market or for
processing," Arancibia concluded.
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/24/1/16.abstract
Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science
(ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of
horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org
This press release also available on EurekAlert! - view here
Optimizing Sweetpotato Production for Fresh and Processing Markets through Plant Spacing and Planting-harvest Time
Ramón A. Arancibia, Cody D. Smith, Don R. LaBonte, Jeffrey L. Main, Tara P. Smith, and Arthur Q. Villordon HortTechnology 24:16-24. [Abstract]
Corresponding author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org