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.
In a greenhouse experiment, the effect of the addition of higher levels of potassium (K) in the replenishment stock used to supply nutrients in a nutrient film technique system was examined. For this study, `TU-82-155' sweetpotato was grown hydroponically for 120 days under four nutrient application/replenishment treatments: 1) REG—solution was changed at 14-day intervals and volume allowed to fluctuate; 2) MHH—replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland solution (MHH) or with water to regain set volume (30.4 liters) and maintain set point of electrical conductivity (EC, 1050–1500 μmho); 3) MHH + 2K—daily replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland solution (MHH) or with water to regain the set volume and adjust EC to 1400 followed by application of 50 ml of a 2K stock solution to an EC of 1500; 4) MHH/2K—replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland solution that incorporated the 2K component or with water to regain set volume (30.4 liters) and maintain set point of electrical conductivity (EC, 105–1500 μmho). The storage root yield (g fresh weight per plant) was significantly higher when the 2K treatment was incorporated with the 10× MHH stock. The storage root yield averaged 324.8 g/plant compared with a yield of 289.6 and 252.9 g/plant, respectively, for the REG and MHH nutrient application protocol. As in earlier experiments, the MHH treatment was comparable to the REG protocol, validating the use of a replenishment approach for nutrient supply in hydroponic sweetpotato culture.
In developing a nutrition management strategy that reduces the quantity of products entering the waste management stream, gaining an understanding of the patterns and fluctuations of nutrient levels and crop growth characteristics is essential. In a greenhouse study, `TU-82-155' sweetpotato was grown hydroponically for 120 days in three nutrient application–replenishment treatments: l) REG-solution changed at 14-day intervals and volume allowed to fluctuate; 2) daily replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified quarter Hoagland's solution (MQH) or with water to regain set volume (30.4 liters) and maintain set point of electrical conductivity [(EC); 1050 to 1200 μmho]; 3) daily replenishment with l0× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland's solution (MHH) or with water to regain the set volume and maintain the set point of EC. There were no statistically significant differences among nutrient application protocols for storage root count, fresh and dry weights, and percent dry matter. The MHH treatment consistently yielded significantly higher leaf biomass and pencil roots (>1 mm in diameter), indicating a higher potential for increased storage root yield. A nutrient application protocol using treatment 2 has potential for reduced waste production if used in hydroponic sweetpotato production. The plants from the MQH treatment initiated vegetative buds at a significantly later date than in the other treatments and generally showed evidence of suppressed plant development.