Early Plant Growth and Yield of Sweetpotato Grown from Seed, Vegetative Cuttings, and Somatic Embryos

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • | 2 Tropical Research and Education Center, 18905 SW 280 Street, Homestead, FL 33031

Early plant growth, root quality, and yield from sweetpotato plants obtained from zygotic seed, somatic embryos, or cloned from stock plants (through micropropagation, rooted node explants, or nonrooted terminal vine cuttings) were compared in field plantings established in 1986, 1987, and 1988 in Gainesville and/or Homestead, Fla. At planting, transplants derived from somatic embryos had more nodes than the other propagules, while vine length per plant was greatest with nonrooted vine cuttings obtained from stock plants. The number of nodes (up to 253%) and vine growth (up to 517%) were greater when plants were derived from stock plants and zygotic embryos than from somatic embryos 4 weeks (1987) and 6 weeks (1988) after planting. Vegetative growth, larger-sized storage roots (>6 cm in diameter), and total yields (all root grades combined) were consistently reduced when plants were derived from somatic embryos compared with propagules of stock plant origin. Plants obtained from somatic embryos required more time for roots to bulk or size than the other propagule types. Root yield from plantlets derived from somatic embryos showed a 14-fold increase when harvest was delayed at least 53 more days. Root weight, regardless of harvest date, was greater when plants were derived from stock plants rather than from somatic embryos, while in most cases plants derived from somatic embryos yielded a greater number of roots than from stock plants. Plants obtained through somatic embryony and harvested at a later date typically had yields exceed 1.8 kg per plant. Morphology of plants obtained from somatic embryos was uniform and identical to plants derived from stock plants.

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