China is the world’s largest sweetpotato producer, with annual plantings and total production accounting for 70% and 85%, respectively, of the world’s supply (Tang et al., 2010). Sweetpotato sprouts are an ideal green vegetable with a high yield, high fiber and protein contents, and low oxalic acid content (Villareal et al., 1979). Ishida et al. (2000) reported that the total dietary fiber content of sweetpotato leaves is 5.90 to 7.00 g/100 g. The young leaves of stem tips are rich in protein, carotene, vitamin C, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron, with significantly higher contents than those of sweetpotato roots. Because of their multifunctional contents, sweetpotato sprouts are beneficial to the human body (Islam et al., 2002).
Given the high nutritive value of sweetpotato sprouts, the identification of better cultivation techniques to improve their quality is essential. Traditionally, sweetpotato sprouts are grown at temperatures of 25 to 35 °C and 85% to 95% humidity. However, recent research findings could change the conception of the ideal cultivation environment for sprouts. Hong et al. (2008) reported that light has an important influence on the quality of mung bean sprouts. Pérez-Balibrea et al. (2008) found that light can increase the vitamin C, glucoside, and phenolic compound contents of broccoli and improve its nutritional value. Lu et al. (2014) found that light regulation can increase the antioxidant content of radish buds, and Thwe et al. (2014) discovered that blue light increases the phenolic compound content of tartary buckwheat malt. Eskins et al. (1995) demonstrated that light affected the shape and bitterness of lettuce, whereas Fan et al. (2004) found that radiation has no effect on the quality of axillary buds. Li (2015) found that the taste of sweetpotato sprouts worsened but the nutritional value improved with increased photoperiod.
Sweetpotato sprouts are vegetables that can be grown by the consumer. They are easy to grow and have a high nutritional value and pleasing taste. Few reports describe cultivation techniques for sweetpotato sprouts, and in-depth research in this area could improve the production and value of this popular crop. This study was conducted to identify a better cultivation technique and provide the theoretical basis and details of the technical methods required for the optimized production of sweetpotato sprouts.
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