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Victor N. Njiti, Qun Xia, Leonna S. Tyler, Lakeisha D. Stewart, Antione T. Tenner, Chunquan Zhang, Dovi Alipoe, Franklin Chukwuma and Ming Gao

Excessive vine growth in sweetpotato has been associated with lower storage root yield. Prohexadione–calcium (Pro-Ca), a plant growth retardant, has been used to reduce vegetative growth and increase harvest efficiency and yield in many fruit and row crops. The influence of Pro-Ca on sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas Lam.) vegetative growth and storage root yield was evaluated in this study. In 2010 and 2011, the sweetpotato cvs. Beauregard, Porto Rico, O’ Henry, and SC1149-19 were sprayed with 0 and 810 mg a.i./L Pro-Ca in a split plot randomized complete block. Each plot received two sprays, the first at 2 weeks after transplanting and the second at 6 weeks after transplanting. When averaged across cultivars, Pro-Ca significantly (P ≤ 0.05) reduced vine length and vine yield and increased total root yield compared with the control. There was no significant Pro-Ca × cultivar interaction on any trait. Total biomass was not significantly (P ≤ 0.05) different between Pro-Ca-treated and control plants. However, the treated plants had more total root yield, whereas the control plants had more vine yield, suggesting that Pro-Ca treatment affected the distribution of assimilates. Data from this study suggested that it may be possible to use Pro-Ca to manipulate the source-sink relationship for higher storage root yield in sweetpotato.