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Asparagus
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Sweetpotato
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HORT410 - Vegetable Crops

Sweetpotato - Notes

  • Common name: sweetpotato.
  • Latin name: Ipomoea batatas L. (syn. Batatas edulis).
  • Family: Convolvulaceae [Convolvulaceae Images] or morning glory family.
  • Cultivars differ for ploidy level: 2n = 30 (diploid); 2n = 40 (tetraploid); 2n = 90, (hexaploid)).
  • Dicotyledon.
  • Perennial.
  • Harvested organ: swollen, tuber-like roots.
  • Origin: native to the American tropics; once an important component of the Aztec diet. Introduced to Europe in the 16th century; later spread to Asia and N. America.
  • Sweet potato history (TAMU)
  • Rich in vitamin A.
  • Varieties distinguished by leaf shapes, skin color and flesh color.
  • Cultivation is concentrated in the southern parts of the U.S.
  • Most sweetpotatoes are propagated either by planting sprouts that rise from the roots, or by rooting vine cuttings.
  • The sprouts, slips or draws, are obtained by planting stored tuberous roots in a hotbed, and are cut for transplanting to the production field when they have six to eight well-developed leaves and a good root system.
  • Warm season: optimum growth temperature: 21 to 29 C; chilling injury occurs when soil temperatures drop below 10 C.
  • Harvested 130 to 150 days after transplanting.
  • Mechanically harvested much like Irish potatoes, but are more suceptible to bruising.
  • Harvested tubers are often 'cured' for several days at 29 C and 85 to 90% relative humidity to promote suberization and healing of bruises and/or cuts.
  • The cured tubers are stored at 13 to 15 C and 85 to 90% relative humidity.
  • If properly cured and stored, disease-free roots can remain edible for 6 to 7 months.

    (see: ID-56: Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2003 - Sweet Potato (PURDUE) [pdf] for sweetpotato varieties, plant production, transplanting and spacing, fertilizing, harvesting and storage, and disease, weed and insect control recommendations for Midwest grown sweetpotatoes)

    Sources of information:

  • Nonnecke, I.L. "Vegetable Production", Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY (1989).
  • Phillips, R., Rix, M. "The Random House Book of Vegetables", Random House, NY (1993).
  • Lorenz, O.A. Sweet potato. In "The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia", Version 1.5, Grolier, Inc. (1992).
  • Hall, M.R., Phatak, S.C. Sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops", (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 693-708 (1993).
  • Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers, ID-56, eds. R. Foster, D. Egel, E. Maynard, R. Weinzierl, H. Taber, L.W. Jett, B. Hutchinson, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, 2003.
  • Kotecha, P.M., Kadam, S.S. Sweet potato. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 71-97 (1998).

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  • David Rhodes
    Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture
    Horticulture Building
    625 Agriculture Mall Drive
    Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010
    Last Update: 01/07/08