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W.J. McLaurin and S.J. Kays

Four high-yielding sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] cultivars displayed substantial leaf shedding, under typical field production conditions, that was not due to pathological or herbivory causes. Losses ranged from ≈ 45% to 60% of the total leaves formed by the normal harvest date during 2 years. There was a strong positive correlation between leaf shedding and the number of vines (r2 = 0.80) and nodes (r2 = 0.89) per plant. Likewise, positive correlations were found between leaf shedding and total dry weight (r2 = 0.67), root fresh weight (r2 = 0.65), root dry weight (r2 = 0.60), and vine dry weight (r2 = 0.68). Distinct differences were found among cultivars in dry-matter allocation within the plant. `Jewel' allocated a lower percentage of dry matter into vines and a higher percentage into storage roots. Estimated leaf dry matter losses due to leaf shedding ranged from 1.2 to 2.6 t·ha-1. High leaf losses appear to be closely related to vigorous vine growth and subsequent shading of older leaves but did not have a negative impact on storage root yield in the cultivars tested.

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S. Burrell, D. Mortley, P. Loretan, A.A Trotman, P. P David, and G. W. Carver

The effects of light intensity on three sweetpotato cultivars [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam] were evaluated in growth chambers, as part of NASA's Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) program for long duration space missions. Vine cuttings of `TI-155', `GA Jet', and TUJ1 were grown using nutrient film technique (NFT) in a modified half Hoagland's solution with a 1:2.4 N:K ratio in channels (0.15×0.15×1.2 m). Plants were exposed to irradiance levels of 360 or 720 umols m-2s-1 with an 18/6 photoperiod in a randomized complete block design with two replications. Temperature was set at 28:22 lightdark and RH was 70%. Differences in plant response to were more related to cultivars than the effect of light intensity. Storage root number (8) fresh, (786 g/plant) and dry weights (139 g/plant) were highest for `TI-155' while foliage fresh and dry weights were highest for `TUJ1' when averaged across light levels. TI-155' (921 g/plant) and `GA Jet' (538 g/plant) produced greater yields at higher irradiance. `TUJ1' produced a higher yield (438 g/plant at the lower intensity compared to 219 (g/plant) at the higher intensity, suggesting this cultivar could produce storage roots in similar conditions in a CELSS.

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Desmond G. Mortley

Greenhouse studies were conducted to evaluate 5 levels of Mn (0.00025 to 0.1 g.L-1) on Mn toxicity or tolerance of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam] grown in a modified half Hoagland's solution. The presence of oxidized Mn on the roots and leaves was demonstrated by the blue staining test with benzidene and the solubility and bleaching of oxidized Mn in the oxalic-sulfuric acid solution. Both storage root and foliage fresh and dry weights were highest at Mn concn of 0.00025 g.L-1 in the nutrient solution, while fibrous root dry weight was highest with 0.01 g.L-1 Mn in the solution. More Mn accumulated in foliage than in fibrous roots for all levels of Mn evaluated. N, P, and K concn in foliage was highest at a Mn concn of 0.1 g.L-1 Mn in the solution. Foliage dry weight was preserved up to a high Mn level of about 2700 ug. g-1 Mn in tissues, while taht for storage roots was preserved up to a high Mn level of about 1000 ug. g-1 in the tissues. Deposition of oxidized Mn was observed on fibrous roots particularly at the highest Mn levels in the nutrient solution.

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Howard F. Harrison, Joseph K. Peterson, and Maurice E. Snook

Bioasssay-guided investigation of constituents possibly contributing to the allelopathic potential of sweetpotato led to the isolation of a nonpolar seed germination inhibitor in sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas L.) roots. Mass spectral data supported by HPLC s pectroscopic analyses and data obtained from hydrolysis products revealed the presence of three monogalactosyl-diglycerides (MGDGs) (galactosyl-di-linoleneoyl glyceride, galactosyl-linoleneoyl-linoleoyl glyceride, and galactosyl-di-linoleoyl glyceride) in storage roots. The compounds inhibited proso millet germination, and at 100 ppm inhibition was about 90%. MGDG with fully saturated fatty acids (galactosyl-distearoyl glyceride) was not inhibitory in the bioassay. An efficient method for quantitation of individual MGDGs was developed, and the contents of each compound in the storage root tissues of 12 genetically diverse cultivars and breeding lines were determined. On a dry weight basis, total MGDG contents ranged between 107 and 452 μg/g in the periderm, 298 and 807 μg/g in the cortex, and 296 and 755 μg/g in the stele. Also, large differences in the ratios of the three compounds between clones and between tissues within a clone were noted. The differences between clones indicate that manipulating total content and ratios of MGDGs through plant breeding is feasible.

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D.G. Mortley, P A. Loretan, A.A Trotman, P. P David, L.C Garner, and G. W. Carver

The effects of altering, nutrient solution N:K ratio on growth of `TI-155' sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam] was evaluated in a greenhouse, as part of NASA's Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) program for long duration space missions. Vine cuttings of `TI-155', were grown using nutrient film technique (NFT) in a modified half Hoagland's solution in channels (0.15×0.15×1.2 m). Plants were grown for 42 days in a culture solution in which N was doubled (6 mM) in order to accelerate foliage growth after which treatment N:K ratios of 1:2.4, (control) 1:4.8, and 1:7.2 were initiated. A randomized complete block design with 4 replications was used. The number of storage roots/plant increased linearly as K was increased in the solution. Storage root fresh and dry weights, growth rate (g m-2 d-1), fibrous root dry weight, foliage fresh and dry weights, and edible biomass index (root mass/total plant mass), though not significant all increased as K was increased in the nutrient solution. Nutrient solution analyses showed that K uptake was greatest in plants at the highest K level, while nitrate uptake was steady over the duration of crop growth regardless of treatments.

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Heather L. Wallace, Don R. La Bonte, and Christopher A. Clark

Virus infections and genetic mutations have been implicated in the decline of sweetpotato yield and quality. Virus-tested mericlones were derived from 12 infected clones of `Beauregard' sweetpotato by meristem-tip culture. Field studies were conducted to evaluate yield differences between the virus-tested and the virus-infected plants of each respective clone. After a 90-day growing period, the storage roots were harvested, weighed, and analyzed with a colorimeter to gauge color of skin and flesh. Yield was 7% to 130% greater in virus-tested mericlones compared to their respective virus-infected clone. Data also show these 12 virus-tested mericlones vary in yield by up to 118%. This suggests genetic differences between clones greatly affect yield. The virus-tested mericlones also show a more desirable darker-red hue for skin and flesh than the virus-infected clones. The incorporation of virus-tested material into foundation seed programs could potentially increase yield and quality with little added expense to growers, thereby netting a higher return on their crop.

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D.G. Mortley, C.K. Bonsi, P.A. Loretan, W.A. Hill, and C.E. Morris

Growth chamber experiments were conducted to study the physiological and growth response of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] to either 50% or 85 % relative humidity (RH). Vine cuttings of T1-155 were grown using the nutrient film technique in a randomized complete-block design with two replications. Temperature regimes of 28/22C were maintained during the light/dark periods with irradiance at canopy level of 600 μmol·m-2·s-1 and a 14/10-hour photoperiod. High RH (85%) increased the number of storage roots per plant and significantly increased storage root fresh and dry weight, but produced lower foliage fresh and dry weight than plants grown at 50% RH. Edible biomass index and linear growth rate (in grams per square meter per day) were significantly higher for plants grown at 85 % than at 50% RH. Leaf photosynthesis and stomatal conductance were higher for plants at 85 % than at 50% RH. Thus, the principal effect of high RH on sweetpotato growth was the production of higher storage root yield, edible biomass, growth rate, and increased photosynthetic and stomatal activity.

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P.J. Ndolo, E.G. Rhoden, and G. W. Carver

A greenhouse study was conducted to investigate the uptake, accumulation and percent recovery of N, P, K, Ca and Mg by sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) cv `TI-155', `Centennial', `Georgia Jet' and `Rojo Blanco'. These cultivars were grown in a fritted clay medium and harvested after 42 and 32 days. There were no significant difference in total elements uptake among the cultivars at 42 days. However, Georgia Jet accumulated more P and K than TI-155 and had higher levels of K than Rojo Blanco at day 82. Total accumulation of elements increased significantly from 42 to 82 days. Leaves accounted for most of the plant N at both harvest periods. Storage roots contained significantly more K than leaves, vines or fibrous roots. Percent N, P and K uptake was significantly lower at 42 than at 82 days. Cultivars also had no significant difference in percent uptake at day 42. However, at day 82, Georgia Jet showed a significantly higher P and K percent recovery than Rojo Blanco.

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Lewis W. Jett

Growth of the sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] is subject to environmental variation. High soil temperatures can restrict storage root initiation and development. Moreover, fluctuating soil moisture can have a pronounced effect on yield and quality. Cover crops, used in a conservation tillage system, could modify the soil environment. The objective of this research was to investigate the effects of conservation tillage on sweetpotato growth. A rye cover crop was broadcast seeded in Fall 1996, and sweetpotatoes were transplanted into the undisturbed residue the following spring. A fallow, unseeded plot represented the conventional method of sweetpotato culture. Plants were harvested at 14-day intervals commencing at 21 days after transplanting. Leaf area and dry weights of the storage roots and vines were recorded. Soil moisture was measured by taking soil cores at the depth of rooting (10 cm). The sweetpotatoes growing in the undisturbed rye residue had a significantly greater leaf area, vine weight, root set, and yield (particularly large grade class) relative to conventional-tilled sweetpotatoes. The rye residue was very effective in reducing soil evaporation.

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Scott Aker and William Healy

Alstroemeria `Regina' and A. `Orchid' Linn. plants were grown in rhizotrons to facilitate non-destructive observation of shoot, rhizome, and storage root growth. In plants grown at 21/11 C or 21/21 C day/night temperatures under either 8 hr night interruption or an 8 hour short days, storage root growth was favored by cool (11 C) night temperatures and long days. The seasonal patterns of storage root and rhizome growth were inversely related to the seasonal pattern of shoot growth. Growth of shoots and rhizomes followed a cyclic pattern. The cycles of shoot and rhizome growth were in phase with each other until the plants resumed vegetative growth due to high soil temperature. At this point, the cycles of shoot and rhizome growth were shifted out of phase with each other. Thinning shoots by 60% resulted in delay and damping out of the peak of storage root growth; the cyclic growth of storage roots was disrupted when plants were thinned by 60% such that the cycles of active storage root growth were delayed by 1 week.