Friday, October 23, 2009

Sweet Success!!

In Spring 2008 we brought our first Sweet Potato plants into our laboratory with the very kind help of the people at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge USA. We have never ventrued into the production of Sweet Potato (Ipomea batatas) before. It was a new area for our nursery and we found some very helpful people in the form of Don LaBonte of Louisiana State University Louisiana USA. Don gave me some valuable advice and helped me along my way in sourcing true to type virus clean plants of Ipomea batatas Beauregard. Beauregard was the exact variety my book research had shown to be most suitable for our climate. In my book research the variety Georgia Jet was also highly recommended but Beauregard seemed to be a better quality variety for storage and skin colour. Funnily enough in our cooking we found Beauregard also to be a better taste than the shop bought ones which are most likely Georgia Jet.
Having secured clean material we propagated mother plants at our laboratory in 2008 and proceeded to see if it was viable to make plug plants from this stock and we found this to be successful. In 2009 we went into limited propagation and produced over 10,000 plants whihc were sold into UK mail order and we planted our own trials at Kildalton College of Horticulture under supervision of Mr Jim Kelleher Senior Horticulture Advisor.

So where to from now with our development of Sweet Potato as an allotment crop in Ireland?

Year 1 Conclusions
The results of the first years commercial propagation trial and crop trial has been very positive. It is conclusive that at the very least this sweet potato variety will give a sufficient yield maturity, excellent quality and flavour under protected growing environment.

Year 2 trial proposal
Having established that Sweet Potato is without doubt a viable crop for the amateur gardener. In 2010 we will undertake a wider trial to assess the merits of Sweet potato as a commercial crop in protected and outdoor conditions. Organic growing techniques will be used and the project will seek collaboration from interested organic growers to participate in a wider trial.

See the short PowerPoint presentation here.

See this article on growing of Sweet Potato in your garden from RHS

I would like to thank Jim Kelleher of Teagasc who organised and supervised the growing trial at Kildalton College. Special thanks goes also to Professor Don LaBonte and Lori Buckley at Louisiana State University research facility. Special thanks also to Dr Stanley J Kays of University of Georgia and to Dr Alan Amitage who introduced me to the initial contact that made all this happen.


  1. That is so exciting!

    Up until now it has always been a struggle to grow sweet potatoes from "slips" but this increase in available and virus free stock means that an extremely popular vegetable can be grown throughout the UK.

    Next step now is to get it growing outdoors! lol!

    Great post!


  2. Thanks Ryan, by providing widespread availability to actively growing plants early in season I think you are right it is exciting. Next steps is to seriously improve outdoor techniques having now got healthy vigorous starter plants.

  3. This is exciting to see in production. I read about starting sweet potatoes from slips and it seemed a bit to labor instensive for me to try at home. Prestarted plants would be awesome.

  4. Interesting post;-) I was noticing on Blotanical that you've had some visitors to your plot. You might want to stop by and take a look! Jan


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