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Arthur Villordon, Christopher Clark, Tara Smith, Don Ferrin and Don LaBonte

Forward and stepwise regression methods identified variables related to the influence of transplanting date on yield of U.S. #1 sweetpotatoes. The variables were mean minimum soil temperature 5 days after transplanting (DAT), wind direction at transplanting, and accumulated heat units (growing degree-days) 5 DAT. Machine learning techniques identified the same variables using leave-one-out and k-fold cross-validation methods. Growers and crop consultants, in collaboration with knowledge workers, can use this information in conjunction with public and subscription-based weather forecasts to further optimize transplanting date determination and for making risk-averse decisions. These results help to underscore the importance of consistent transplant establishment as one of the determinants of storage root yield in sweetpotatoes.

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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.

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Don R. La Bonte, Christopher A. Clark, Tara P. Smith, Arthur Q. Villordon and C. Scott Stoddard

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Don R. La Bonte, Christopher A. Clark, Tara P. Smith and Arthur Q. Villordon

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Don R. La Bonte, Christopher A. Clark, Tara P. Smith and Arthur Q. Villordon

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Don R. La Bonte, Christopher A. Clark, Tara P. Smith, Arthur Q. Villordon and C. Scott Stoddard

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Christopher A. Clark, Tara P. Smith, Donald M. Ferrin and Arthur Q. Villordon

Because sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) is vegetatively propagated, viruses and mutations can accumulate readily, which can lead to cultivar decline. Sweetpotato foundation seed programs in the United States maintain the integrity of commercial seed stock by providing virus-tested (VT) foundation seed to commercial producers. A survey was conducted in Louisiana from 2007 to 2009 to examine the performance and quality of the foundation seed after it had been integrated into commercial sweetpotato operations. G1 seed [grown 1 year after virus therapy in the foundation seed production field at the Sweet Potato Research Station, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter), at Chase, LA] was used as a reference to compare the yield and virus incidence of growers' generation 2 (G2) and generation 3 (G3) seed roots (grown in the growers' seed production fields 1 or 2 years following the year of foundation seed production). Although yields of plants grown from G2 and G3 seed were 86.3% and 86.1% for U.S. No. 1 and 83.3% and 86.0% for total marketable, respectively, compared with the yields from G1 seed, they were not significantly different. Yield and virus incidence data suggest that seed quality may vary from year to year and from location to location. Results from this study suggest that producers are realizing yield benefits by incorporating VT foundation seed into their production schemes, but further benefits could be attained if ways to reduce re-infection with viruses can be found.