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Ramón A. Arancibia, Cody D. Smith, Don R. LaBonte, Jeffrey L. Main, Tara P. Smith, and Arthur Q. Villordon

Consumption of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) has increased in the past decade in part because of its nutritional and health attributes, and because of the availability and convenience of processed products. The sweetpotato processing industry is expanding and supplying more sweetpotato products than ever before. Unlike the medium-sized roots (U.S. no.1) preferred for fresh market, large (jumbo) roots is accepted and in certain cases desired by the processing industry, and overall yield is preferred over strict sizing requirements and aesthetic appeal. Therefore, this study investigated the yield increase and grade proportions in response to plant spacing and extension of the growing period to improve profitability of the production system. Experiments with ‘Beauregard’ and ‘Evangeline’ sweetpotato were conducted in Mississippi and Louisiana during 2010 and 2011. Treatments consisted of a combination of early and late planting date and delay in harvest, in-row plant spacing, and row width. Yield increase was inconsistent with delaying harvest and appears to depend on environmental conditions at harvest late in the season. Marketable yield was consistently greater in early plantings than late plantings. Yield of U.S. no.1 grade was unaffected by delaying harvest regardless of planting date. Delaying harvest in early plantings contributed to increase jumbo-sized roots and marketable yield. The economic assessment of delaying harvest in early plantings indicated a gain in net benefit either when hand harvested for fresh market or field run bulk harvested for processing. Row width and in-row plant spacing had only a marginal effect on yield of canner grade (small-sized roots). The economic assessment of changing plant density indicated no gain in net benefit, which indicates that choice of plant density can depend on other factors.