GLADSTONE ROAD AGRICULTURAL CENTRE
CROP RESEARCH REPORT NO. 1
TUBER QUALITY AND YIELD OF FOUR SWEET POTATO
VARIETIES EVALUATED DURING 2007
Kenneth VA Richardson
Department of Agriculture
A variety trial was conducted on four sweet potato varieties from April to October 2007 at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Centre. The variety ‘Six Weeks’, which is an early maturing variety with white flesh and high dry matter content, produced the highest marketable yield at 9.4 t/ha. One other early maturing variety, ‘Antigua’, yielded 7.3 t/ha and is also suitable for local production. The other two varieties are late maturing varieties and produced very low yields after six months of growth.
Sweet potato is an important crop commercially, constituting one of the world’s most important carbohydrate food sources (Villareal, 1982). It is one of the world’s highest yielding crops with total food production exceeding that of rice. As a crop, this plant species has a great potential for development because of its relatively short growing season and high nutritional value, compared to other starchy food sources. It also has a great potential for supporting agriculture on those areas affected by adverse growing conditions such as drought and saline soils. The sweet potato yields reasonably well, even in soils of low fertility.
The sweet potato is one of the more important staple food crops in the Bahamas and is grown primarily for the fresh market. Production has not been exploited to its fullest extent, however. In the northern Bahamas there has been a significant increase in the acreage planted, using improved sweet potato varieties. Varieties planted in the southeastern Bahamas are generally rainfed, with little or no supplemental irrigation. Generally, a crop may reach maturity within six to eight months, while many of the varieties grown in the southern islands take up to ten months to develop mature tubers. Early maturing varieties combined with improved agronomic practices provide the opportunity for increased productivity of the sweet potato crop. Documentation is lacking on the performance of this crop species under local growing conditions. In order to assist farmers in improving production practices, agronomic data on the performance of this crop must be generated. The results of this experiment will represent the type of information that is required by farmers who wish to obtain early maturing varieties of sweet potato suitable for planting within their particular island.
The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate tuber quality and yield of select sweet potato varieties and to identify high yielding varieties that are acceptable to the fresh market. Another ongoing objective is to characterise the morphological variability existing among the sweet potato varieties collected locally.
Materials and Methods:
The study was carried out at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Centre, New Providence, from April to October 2007. Two node cuttings of sweet potato were rooted in polystyrene trays containing a potting mixture. The plantlets were propagated under green house conditions until they produced a well-developed root system and at least two fully expanded leaves. After two weeks of growth, the plants were transplanted directly to field plots. The sweet potato selections used in this study and some of their characteristics are listed in table 1.
Table 1. Characteristics and origin of plant material used in the experiments. VARIETY ORIGIN
Antigua and Barbuda
Early maturing. Bushy erect plant,
Late maturing. Vigorous, spreading plant,
Early maturing. Bushy semi-erect plant, tending to spread.
Late maturing, up to 10 months. Vigorous, spreading plant,
The four sweet potato varieties were established in an open field in a randomised complete block...
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