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Petra Wolters, Wanda Collins and J.W. Moyer

The establishment of a sweet potato repository in Georgia that will eventually accept and distribute true seed of sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] raised the question of seed transmission of viruses, especially of sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV). Seedlings obtained from virus-infected parent plants were free of viral infection. Examination of virus distribution in virus-infected plants determined that SPFMV was present in vegetative tissue, but not in reproductive organs, indicating that the probability of SPFMV transmission in sweet potato through seed is very low.

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Cecilia E. McGregor, Douglas W. Miano, Don R. LaBonte, Mary Hoy, Chris A. Clark and Guilherme J.M. Rosa

). Viruses are arguably responsible for the most damaging diseases in sweetpotato ( Clark et al., 1997 ; Fuglie, 2007 ; Gibson et al., 1997 ), and mixed infections are common ( Colinet et al., 1998 ). Sweet potato virus disease (SPVD) can lead to yield

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Wayne C. Porter

Studies were conducted to evaluate metolachlor for weed control and crop tolerance in sweet potatoes. Metolachlor was applied posttransplant at rates of 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 lb/A. Tank-mix combinations of metolachlor + clomazone were also evaluated. Clomazone was the standard herbicide used for comparison. Metolachlor alone or in combination with clomazone did not cause any serious reduction in sweet potato plant vigor when applied posttransplant. Metolachlor provided excellent control of Brachiaria platyphylla, Cyperus iria, Cyperus esculentus, and Amaranthus hybridus. Tank-mixes with clomazone did not improve the weed control of metolachlor alone. Yields of No. 1 and marketable roots from metolachlor treated plots were equal to or greater than yields from plots treated with clomazone.

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Lavetta Newell, Tonda Bardwell and James O. Garner Jr.

In two experiments, 16 sweet potato genotypes (Ipomoea batatas L.) were evaluated for drought tolerance using the detached - leaf water loss method as reported by Walker and Miller (1986). Dry weight loss was also determined. Differences in the rate of leaf water loss over a 48 hour period were found.

Vardaman had the greatest amount of dry matter loss and the lowest level of water loss. However, no relationship between dry matter loss and water loss was found.

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Zana C. Somda and Stanley J. Kays

The effect of the plant density (15, 30, 45 × 96-cm spacing) on the branching pattern `Jewel' sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] was determined bi-weekly for 18 weeks. Plant density effects were significant for the number of branches formed and timing of branch formation. Plant density did not affect the type of branches formed (e.g., primary, secondary, and tertiary), but did alter the timing of induction during the growing season. By the end of the growing period, the ratios for the number of primary to secondary branches were 1.5:1, 1.3:1, and 0.6:1 at the 15-, 30-, and 45-cm spacing, respectively. Few tertiary branches were formed, but were present on some plants at each spacing. Tertiary branches most commonly occurred on plants at the widest spacing. While the number of branches per plant was highly plastic and inversely related to plant density, nodes per branch and internode length were not significantly affected. Average internode length per branch decreased with descending branch hierarchy (i,e., main stem < primary branch < secondary branch). `Jewel' sweet potato responded to increased space available largely through production of additional branches with the modification of branching pattern increasing as the season progressed.

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Wayne C. Porter

Oxyfluorfen was evaluated for weed control in sweet potatoes. In 1989, applications were made overtop transplants immediately after transplanting. The 1990 applications were made just prior to transplanting. Oxyfluorfen applied post-transplant at 0.38 lb ai/A and greater rates caused a significant reduction in crop vigor. A 1.0 lb ai/A rate of oxyfluorfen reduced crop vigor when applied pretransplant. All rates of oxyfluorfen controlled Brachiaria platyphylla, Digitaria sanguinalis, Cyperus iria, and Sesbania exaltata. Oxyfluorfen rates of 0.5 lb ai/A and greater were needed to consistently control Sida spinosa and Echinochloa crus-galli. Mollugo verticillata was controlled at all rates in 1989 but not controlled at all in 1990. Yields of all grades of sweet potato roots from plots treated with oxyfluorfen were not different from yields from plots treated with currently labeled herbicides. However, in 1989 yields from all oxyfluorfen-treated plots were lower than yields from the hoed check. In 1990, plots treated with oxyfluorfen at 0.25 or 0.38 lb ai/A had lower yields of No. 1 grade roots than the hoed check.

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Zana C. Somda and Stanley J. Kays

Changes in leaf distribution of the sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] cultivar Jewel were assessed bi-weekly for 18 weeks at three plant densities (15, 30, and 45 cm × 96-cm spacing). The distribution of leaves on the branches and the timing at which leaf number stabilized were affected by the plant density. Plant density resulted in significant differences in the number of leaves and percentage of missing leaves during the growing season. Leaf number and total leaf area varied substantially in response to plant density, but individual lamina and petiole lengths and leaf area did not vary. Average petiole and leaf lengths and leaf size increased during the season, with the maximum length and area dependent on the type of branch on which the leaf was formed. Average petiole length per branch and the susceptibility to leaf loss increased with descending branch hierarchy (secondary branch < primary branch < main stem). Leaf losses after the 4th week tended to parallel a progressive increase in petiole length of new leaves, suggesting shading as a primary cause of leaf shedding and the loss of the oldest leaves first.

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Wayne C. Porter

Selected herbicides, alone or in combination with polyethylene bed covers, were evaluated for preemergence weed control in sweet potato plant beds. No injury to sweet potato transplants was found when the herbicide was applied to the soil surface of freshly bedded sweet potato roots before application of the polyethylene or was applied to newly emerged transplants immediately after the bed cover was removed. Some foliar chlorosis was observed in transplants from beds treated with clomazone, but after the first transplant pulling, no reappearance occurred. Clomazone, chloramben, and napropamide provided excellent control of all annual grasses. Herbicides, regardless of timing of application, did not adversely affect number or weight of sweet potato transplants. Beds covered with polyethylene film produced more transplants at the early and total harvests than the uncovered beds.

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C.S. Prakash, U. Varadarajan and A. S. Kumar

Development of a gene transfer system will enable rapid introduction of agronomically useful genes into elite cultivars of sweet potato. We compared microprojectile bombardment and Agrobacterium cocultivation approaches to introduce foreign genes into the genome of two sweet potato cultivars. Chimeric marker genes (gusA and kan) were successfully introduced into cvs. Jewel and TIS-70357 using both approaches. However, transgenic plants were generated in vitro using only the Agrobacterium approach. Callus and root isolates with stable expression of gusA gene were obtained using the microprojectile method. Expression of the screenable marker gusA gene was detected by histochemical assays. Integration of the introduced gene into the genome of sweet potato was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the kan gene and Southern blot analyses. Transgenic sweet potato plants from two cultivars are being raised and studied for quantitative expression and localization of the introduced genes. These results show that foreign genes can be successfully introduced and expressed in sweet potato. Current efforts are directed at optimizing several variables to increase the transformation efficiencies and to generate transgenic cultivars with foreign genes of agricultural importance.

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Doyle A. Smittle, Melvin R. Hall and Paul G. Thompson

Responses of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L>) Lam) to irrigation rates were evaluated under line-source irrigation systems on Tifton loamy sand soil in Georgia and on a Bude silt loam soil in Mississippi. Total water (rainfall plus irrigation) rates ranged from about 55% to 160% of pan evaporation (Epan). Marketable yields increased with irrigation rate until total water was about 75% of Epan then decreased rapidly with greater irrigation rates. Sweet potato yields were more sensitive to excessive water rates when grown on a silt loam than on a sandy loam soil. Storage loss and quality of cooked 'Jewel' sweet potato roots also increased as the irrigation rate increased until total water was 75% to 95% of Epan then decreased rapidly at water rates of 135 to 160% of Epan.