Strengthening Organic Sweet Potato Propagation Systems in the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $195,968.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jason Griffin
Kansas State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, high tunnels or hoop houses, postharvest treatment
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    Sweetpotatoes are nutritious, easily stored and marketed, well-adapted to organic production, and fit large or small farming operations. However, limited supply of early-season slips in the region often delays planting, which postpones harvest dangerously close to the fall holiday season. Sweetpotatoes are propagated by slips, which are unrooted, stems/shoots that are planted directly into the field. Growers purchase slips from the southeastern US, however, 2 to 4 day shipping results in poor quality slips and reduced crop performance. Kansas State University has demonstrated that regionally-grown organic slips are of high quality and can be shipped throughout the region in 1 to 2 days. However, for this project we are proposing a system where growers propagate their own slips in high tunnels using certified G2 propagation material. We will also investigate Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) as a method for growers to increase the storage and/or shipping life of slips subsequently leading to further grower-to-grower sales capacity. Economic studies for high tunnel production and MAP will be conducted to determine potential profitability. Outcomes will include:



      • Baseline best management practices for high tunnel production of sweetpotato slips


      • Economic feasibility of the high tunnel slip propagation system


      • Recommended MAP technologies to extend slip storage/shipping life


      • Workshops, field days, and extension bulletins highlighting the results of the project


    This project will increase the diversity, availability, and profitability of an underutilized vegetable crop that can be grown throughout the region. Furthermore, it gives growers the ability to control their own propagative material.

    Project objectives from proposal:


      1. Determine the utility of growing organic sweet potato slips in high tunnels and the subsequent impact on yield in the open-field through replicated on-farm and research station trials.


      1. Investigate the ability of passive Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) to increase the shelf life of organic sweet potato slips and the effect of MAP on field performance of the slips.


      1. Develop high tunnel slip production budgets and determine economic feasibility of propagating in high tunnels as well as the use of MAP.


      1. Disseminate the results of the project through a slip production workshop in addition to traditional extension outputs and postings at


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.