Influence of Boron Rate, Timing, and Application Method on Skin Discoloration of `Hernandez' Sweetpotato

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  • 1 1Dept. of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
  • | 2 2Agronomic Division, North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture, Raleigh, NC 27607-6465

In the last 3 years, ≤50% of the North Carolina sweetpotato crop has been produced with the variety Hernandez. A brown to black discoloration on the epidermis of the `Hernandez' sweetpotato may develop when maintained in storage for several months. The symptoms resemble blister—blister is caused by a boron deficiency. Preliminary studies in 1994 indicated that boron reduced the discoloration on `Hernandez' but did not eliminate the problem. To help confirm these findings and further define the role of boron in defining skin discoloration, boron was applied in 1995 at several rates (0 to 5.6 kg·ha–1) and stages of plant development using two application methods (foliar or soil). Yields and plant analysis data were obtained. Marketable yields ranged from 18.4 to 29.3 mt/ha. Leaf boron concentration ranged from 50 to 100 mg·kg–1 throughout the production season when 1.1 kg·ha–1 boron was soil applied shortly after planting. Excessive levels of boron (200+ mg·kg–1) were measured in plant tissue when application levels exceeded 2.2 kg·ha–1 regardless of timing. Soil application appeared to be an adequate method for boron application. Roots were examined for symptoms of discoloration after 5 months. Results indicated no affect of boron on incidence or severity of the symptoms.

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