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Common Name: Sweet Potato
White and red forms of the roots
Photograph by: CostaPPPR
Ipomoea batatas is a Perennial Climber up to 3.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
Derived in cultivation, probably from Ipomoea trifida, this species is not known in a truly wild situation.
An easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained, sandy loam soil and requires a sunny position[
]. Ample potash in the soil is essential for a good crop[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5[
]. A low humidity as the plants reach maturity is beneficial[
Plants are not frost hardy and can only be grown in areas where at least 3 months of frost-free conditions can be supplied. They grow best in a temperature range of 22 - 25°c[
] and can mature a crop within 2 months in tropical areas, though at least three months are required in sub-tropical regions[
The sweet potato was developed in cultivation, probably from the central American species Ipomoea trifida (HBK.)D.Don[
]. It is widely grown in tropical regions as a staple root crop and also as an industrial source of starch[
]. It can also be grown in sub-tropical areas, but is not generally suited for temperate regions. However, a cultivar 'Beauregard' has been introduced than can produce reasonable yields in the temperate zone, though even this cultivar will require the extra warmth prvided by a cold frame or cold greenhouse if it is to produce well[
A scrambling or climbing plant, when the stems lay along the soil they will root and form tubers[
A short-day plant, it requires less than 11 hours of sunlight per day to initiate flowering[
]. However, day length variation appears to have little effect upon tuber production[
Root - cooked[
]. Sweet and fleshy, it is a delicious staple food and is also very nutritious providing a rich source of vitamins and minerals[
]. There are cultivars with soft, moist flesh and also forms with a more dry flesh[
]. There are also less sweet cultivars, bred for industrial production of starch[
]. In order for the roots to store through the winter, they need to be cured in the sunshine at temperatures around 25°c fr about a week before being stored at around 14°c[
Young shoot tips[
The root is a source of starch[
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water, or scarify the seed, and sow in individual pots in a greenhouse in early spring. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 weeks at 22°c. Plants are extremely resentful of root disturbance, even when they are quite small, and should be potted up almost as soon as they germinate. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Seedlings can be very variable and are likely to be less productive than vegetatively produced plants[
Stem cuttings obtained from terminal shoots[
]. Remove the lower leaves and insert the cuttings to half their depth in individual pots.