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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.

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Pauline P. David, Audrey A. Trotman, and Desmond G. Mortley

One of the major objective of growth analysis data is to provide a basic understanding of some of the mechanisms that affect plant growth. This study was initiated to evaluate the effects on several growth parameters when plants are grown in an NFT system. Vine cuttings (15 cm length) of the sweetpotato cultivar ``Georgia Jet” was grown in a closed NFT system for a period of 120 days. Nutrient was supplied in a modified half-strength Hoagland's solution with a N:K ratio of 1:2.4. Destructive harvesting of plants occurred at 14 day intervals at which time plants were separated into their various component parts and analyzed for dry weight accumulation, leaf area index, crop growth rate, relative growth rate and net assimilation rate. Results showed dry weight distribution within the plant had a linear response for all component part evaluated. Greatest contributors to total plant dry weight was stem followed by leaves, fibrous roots, buds and flowers. However, once storage root production occurred it contributed the largest percentage to total plant dry weight. LAI was optimum at 80 days after planting (DAP) while CGR and RGR fluctuated throughout the growing season. Initially NAR was higher in foliage than storage roots but declined once storage root enlargement began, suggesting a translocation of assimilates to storage root.

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N. Bidiaka, V.A. Khan, C.K. Bonsi, C. Stevens, E. G. Rhoden, D. Mortley, and R. Ankhumah

In 1991 leafless stem cuttings 7 nodes long from 4 maternal parents (`Carver', Carver ii', `TU-1892' and `Georgia-Jet') and their progenies (MP/P) were planted 3 nodes deep in greenhouse benches filled with Jiffy-Mix to determine if any similarity in storage (SR) or fibrous root (FR) patterns could be used to identify high yielding cultivars in a breeding program. The experiment was planted in a complete randomized block design with 7 replications for each treatment and the total number of SR and FR data were collected over a 9 wk period with weekly sampling. The results indicated that SR initiation was a continuos process and took from 5-9 wk before reaching a maximum level for some MP/P. There was a significant inverse relationship between SR and FR numbers, as SR increased FR decreased. SR for most MP/P were initiated at the underground node closest to the soil surface and FR at the lower two nodes. When regression equations were used on the greenhouse data to predict total number of SR that would be produced in a field trial, no significant differences were found between the number of SR initiated in the greenhouse and field trial 80 days after transplanting by some of these MP/P. However, cultivars with the highest number of storage roots in the field trial did not have the highest number of marketable roots or yield and this was probably due to differences among MP/P in the rate of root enlargement.

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G.W. Stutte, I. Eraso, and E.C. Stryjewski

The RASTA (Radish Assimilation in Spaceflight Testbed Atmospheres) space flight experiment is being designed to evaluate effects of spacecraft environment on carbon partitioning in radish. Carbon dioxide concentration and air temperature effects on radish partitioning are being evaluated to optimize conditions on orbit. Determining effects of these stresses on growth will allow environmental stress effects to be isolated from microgravity effects during the mission. Three cultivars, Cherriette, Cherry Belle, and Early Scarlett Globe, have been grown at 23 °C at 400, 1500 and 10,000 ppm CO2 to determine effects of super-elevated CO2 on growth. Total biomass production was greatest at 1500 ppm CO2, with a decline at 10,000 ppm CO2. Harvest index of all cultivars was also highest at 1500 ppm. `Cherry Belle' and `Early Scarlet Globe' were grown at ambient CO2 under temperatures ranging from 18 to 30 °C. Total biomass production was greatest at 22 °C, with significant declines in total dry mass and harvest index with increasing temperatures. Temperatures less than 22 °C resulted in decrease in total biomass, but partitioning to storage roots was enhanced. (Supported by NASA NCC10-0034)

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Jin Wook Lee, Kenneth W. Mudge, and Joseph Lardner

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) contains pharmacologically active secondary compounds known as ginsenosides, which have been shown to be affected by both genetic and environmental factors. In this greenhouse experiment, we tested the hypothesis that ginsenosides would behave as “stress metabolites” and be associated with osmoregulation in response to drought stress. Two year-old seedlings, grown in 5-inch pots, were well watered for 40 days prior to the initiation of treatments. Plants in the drought stress treatment were watered every 20 days while the controls were watered every 10 days, and the experiment was terminated after 4 and 8 dry down cycles (80 days), respectively. Predawn leaf water potential and relative water content (RWC) of drought-stressed plants during a typical dry down cycle were lower than control plants. The diameter and weight of primary storage roots were decreased in the stressed treatment. The length of the main storage root and the longest secondary (fibrous) root were significantly increased by the drought stress treatment. Leaf chlorophyll content of drought-stressed plants was lower than controls. The osmotic potential of the drought-stressed ginseng was not lower than the control, indicating that ginsenoside is not involved in osmoregulation in response to drought stress. Furthermore, ginsenosides Rb1 and Rd, and total ginsenosides were significantly lower in primary roots of drought-stressed plants compared to control plants.

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Vital Hagenimana, Ronald E. Simard, and Louis-P. Vézina

In vitro activity measurements indicate that storage sweetpotato roots contain high amounts of extractable amylolytic enzymes. These storage roots also have a very high starch content, a characteristic indicating that the in vitro measurements estimate potential amylolytic activity rather than actual physiological activity. We are interested in optimizing the use of endogenous amylases when processing sweetpotato roots and have undertaken a study to identify physiological parameters that control in vivo starch breakdown. Sweetpotato roots were allowed to germinate for 35 days in controlled conditions. Using a combination of in vitro activity measurements and immunochemical detection, the spatial distribution and changes in activity levels for the three major amylolytic enzymes in storage sweetpotato roots—α-amylase, β-amylase, and starch phosphorylase—have been followed. After 6 days, α-amylase protein increased in the outer starchy parenchymatous tissues surrounding the cambium layers, a result suggesting a de novo synthesis of the enzyme in cambium or laticifers layers. β-Amylase was abundant throughout the root at all times, and its high levels did not directly affect starch degradation rates. Starch phosphorylase protein level remained constant, while its extractable activity increased. Starch content decreased during sweetpotato seed root germination. However, the amount of starch that disappeared during germination was low compared with the calculated starch hydrolysis potential estimated by amylolytic activity measurements.

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W. R.(Bill) Jester, Charles W. Averre, and Jonathan R. Schultheis

Russet crack-like symptoms have been observed with increasing frequency on Beauregard storage roots in North Carolina and resulted in some crop failures in neighboring states. The objective of this experiment was to determine if this cracking disorder was soil-borne, seed transmissible or transmissible via grafting. Beauregard plants were obtained from cuttings from commercially available virus-indexed micropropagated plants (M), and selected symptomatic roots (culls) originating from 1992 Foundation stocks (R). In a third treatment plants from each source were alternated in a row, then M and R plants were cleft grafted. The planting was made June 30, 1993 and replicated five times (12 plants per rep). Yield was determined and roots from each hill were washed and examined for russet crack-like symptom(s), and interior color on the proximal end. M roots had 82% good color; while R roots had 19%. M plants contained 0.3% symptomatic roots; R plants 65.5%. Similarly, only 1.6% of the M plants contained a symptomatic root, while 95.0% of the R plants had symptomatic roots. One-third of the grafted M plants contained one or more roots with cracking symptoms. M outyielded R. The russet crack-like disorder was determined to not be soil-borne, but was transmissible through the seed or grafting.

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Scott Aker and William Healy

Thinning of Alstroemeria `Regina' at 0, 30, 60, or 90% did not result in induction of cyclic variation in shoot length. Thinning caused an overall decrease in stem length and final fresh weight of storage roots (SR). Number of nodes on generative shoots did not change due to thinning treatment but varied over time. Thinning by 90% reduced yield, delayed harvest and increased flower quality. In the second year, plants were rethinned and grown with supplemental HPS irradiance of either 25 or 125 μmolm-2sec-1. Weekly production diminished with increased thinning, and was amplified by increased total fluence. In a second experiment, thinning resulted in decreased shoot, rhizome and SR growth in plants sampled before and after flowering. Rhizome index increased with increased thinning, indicating a relatively smaller impact of thinning on rhizome growth compared to SR and shoot growth. The carbohydrate composition of SR tissue was unchanged by treatment. Thinning resulted in decreased SR production and decreased fresh weight per SR between thinning treatments. Change in total amount of carbohydrate reserves in the SR is therefore due to change in number & size of the SR.

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Makoto Nakatani, Masaru Tanaka, and Masaru Yoshinaga

A late-storage root-forming mutant (`KM95-A68') of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Poir.] was characterized to clarify the genetic and physiological mechanisms of storage root formation. This mutant originated from a somaclonal mutation of `Kokei No. 14'. Storage roots of `KM95-A68' are rare and, when formed, develop 2 or 3 weeks later than those of `Kokei No. 14' from which it originated. Morphological characteristics of the canopy and leaf photosynthetic rates of `KM95-A68' were similar to those of `Kokei No. 14'. No apparent differences were observed in the anatomy of root cross sections of `KM95-A68' and `Kokei No. 14'. An apparent increase in the root zeatin riboside (ZR) levels were observed in `Kokei No. 14' at storage root formation. Root ZR levels differed between `Kokei No. 14' and `KM95-A68'. The onset of increase in root ZR levels was delayed by 2 or 3 weeks in `KM95-A68' in comparison to `Kokei No. 14'. Maximum root ZR levels in `Kokei No. 14' were 2.2 times higher in comparison to `KM95-A68'. This appeared to be a factor in delayed storage root formation of `KM95-A68'. Results of reciprocal grafts of `KM95-A68' and `Kokei No. 14' indicated that the late storage root-forming characteristic of `KM95-A68' is a characteristic that arises from the root itself.