Get a first-hand look at the LSU AgCenter Virus-Tested Sweet Potato Program with Chris Clark and Catherine DeRobertis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqdeTUX54lM.
Learn more about the other Sweet Potato Research Station programs at the LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Station Virtual Field Day.
"Excising sweetpotato microshoot tips for virus elimination therapy” is now available on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShvNqgbPSiE
- Virus indexing is a method used to determine the presence and identity of sweetpotato viruses. The Brazilian morning glory (Ipomoea setosa), a close relative to sweetpotato, is sensitive to sweetpotato viruses. I. setosa is referred to as an indicator species because when infected sweetpotatoes are grafted to it, virus symptoms develop and ‘indicate' that the plant is infected with viruses. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays are also used to detect nucleic acids of specific viruses.
- Virus-tested means that plants have been screened and found apparently negative for the presence of known or targeted viruses affecting sweetpotato.
- Scientists avoid the term "virus-free" because we only test for viruses that are known to infect sweetpotato. Furthermore, it is impractical to test every plant produced by the NCPN- Sweetpotato Clean Plant Centers, an estimated 384 million plants in 2017.
- The term “clean plants" refers to sweetpotato plants generated through a uniform process agreed upon by NCPN- Sweetpotato Clean Plant Centers. This includes standardized virus-testing procedures, plant therapy to generate nuclear stock plants free of known sweetpotato viruses, and collaboration with state regulatory and crop improvement agencies to limit reinfection during the propagation of clean plants in greenhouse and field environments.
- Reinfection happens when clean plants are exposed to sweetpotato virus vectors. Sources of viruses may be wild morning glories or cultivated sweetpotatoes. Aphids vector the most common group of sweetpotato viruses in the U.S., but whiteflies also transmit some uncommon sweetpotato viruses.
“Garber Farms grows over 1,000 acres of sweet potatoes annually. Our average yields over the past 10 years has steadily increased to around 675 bushels per acre. The Foundation seed program provided by LSU has been the core input of our production practices. Its ability to provide Garber Farms with a viral-and disease-free clean plant product has allowed our transplants to have the potential to produce higher yields. In our climate of high humidity and high temperatures, virus and disease pressures are extreme, so we keep our plant production within two generations of the G-1 viral free foundation seed furnished by the LSU Experiment Station.
The clean plant program has given our commercial production the economic confidence to increase all input levels in a constant effort to reach for greater financial returns per acre. While we seldom plant past G-3 seed, when we have tried G-4, it has been obvious that yield potential drops significantly. The quantity and quality decline results in revenue reduction of 25 to 50 percent.
The future of our sweet potato industry is directly dependent on the continuation of LSU's Clean Plant Program. We are grateful for the quality of our research and researchers who provide the underpinnings of our efforts to remain competitive and financially profitable into the future.”
Duane Hutton, sweetpotato packing shed manager, Livingston California
“Clean seed improves yield, quality, shelf life, and packout efficiency of our sweetpotatoes. Yield is 10-20% better with clean seed. Quality makes the produce buyer's business more efficient and pleases their consumers. Sweetpotatoes harvested from clean seed last longer in storage bins. Clean seed sweetpotatoes require less labor to pack. With clean seed we have first class yields; no excuse, top quality; good shelf life; and a smooth packing operation.”
Wade Fleming, sweetpotato producer, Calhoun County, Mississippi
“In 2016, we grew foundation and older sweetpotatoes next to one another in the same field. The foundation sweetpotatoes yielded 100 bushels per acre more in the same field.”
Matt Alvernaz, sweetpotato grower, packer, shipper, Merced County, California
“The cleaner the seed, the less virus you'll have, and the more saleable product you'll have.”