Improving the yield and quality of sweet potatoes grown in New York

Project Overview

LNE10-292
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $32,666.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Charles Bornt
Cornell Cooperative Extension Capital District Vegetable & Small Fruit Program

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes

Practices

  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    Abstract: Of the ten vegetable growers identified currently growing five acres of sweet potatoes in eastern New York, eight will improve the production and quality of sweet potatoes. This will be accomplished by implementing environmental modifications and variety selections identified in this research through the use of newsletter, on-farm meetings and attending workshops. Fifty additional vegetable growers will attend workshops and on-farm meetings and by the end of the project, 20 of these growers will grow sweet potatoes, increasing the total acreage of sweet potatoes in NY to more than 15. Of these growers, we will identify two growers that will produce their own slips for sweet potato production on their farm. Through the use of on-farm research trials, we will evaluate the use of the following techniques to improve the earliness, yield and overall tuber quality of sweet potatoes: using transplants produced in a greenhouse versus bare rooted slips; the use of different plastic mulches including infrared transmitting mulch (IRT), Dubois Agrinovation BIOTELO biodegradable mulch compared to traditional black plastic mulch and the use of floating rowcovers. Outreach and education will include the development of a bulletin incorporating the best management practices identified in this research to be shared with interested growers; presentations at local and statewide vegetable meetings. Results will be included in Extension newsletters and other trade publications. The project will be evaluated by conducting initial face to face interviews with grower cooperators to determine their current sweet potato production techniques. Upon completion of the first year’s research, we will interview these growers again to determine any changes they plan on making in 2011 as a result of the research outcomes. We will also survey growers attending workshops to determine if sweet potatoes have been added to crop list and techniques they are using to grow them.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Milestones:
    • Milestone 1 – Ten current sweet potato growers in the Capital District will provide information through face-to-face interviews on their current production techniques, varieties, pest issues, yield and estimated return. Completed February 15, 2010.

    • Milestone 2 – Two grower cooperators will be identified to conduct field trials of new production methods, variety evaluations, and storage options. Completed March 1, 2010

    • Milestone 3 – A minimum of one twilight meeting will be held during the growing season at grower cooperator’s farm and first year results made available through CCE monthly newsletter, winter grower meetings including the Empire State Fruit and Vegetable Expo. 150 people to attend and 500 exposed to newsletter information. Completed December 31, 2010.

    • Milestone 4 – Participating growers attend a one day focus group to review results of 2010 and make recommendations for 2011 trials. 10 people to attend. Completed January 15, 2011.

    • Milestone 5 – Three grower cooperators will be identified to conduct field trials of new production methods, variety evaluations and other factors identified by the focus group. Completed February 1, 2011.

    • Milestone 6 – At least one twilight meeting will be held during the growing season at grower cooperator’s farm results made available through CCE monthly newsletter, winter grower meetings including the Empire State Fruit and Vegetable Expo. 150 people will attend, additional 500 exposed to newsletter and bulletin. Completed February 1, 2012.

    • Short production bulletin will be prepared and available as downloadable file on CDVSFP web site. Completed March 1, 2012.

    • Milestone 7 – Focus group with grower cooperators to determine the level of change in sweet potato production practices, crop profitability, and future plans. 10 people to attend. Completed March 15, 2012.

    Performance target – This project will improve quality and production of sweet potatoes on 8 of the 10 farms participating in the project. Fifty additional growers will attend workshops and meetings and twenty of them will add sweet potatoes to their operations, helping diversify the industry and provide a nutritious commodity seldom produced locally in the Northeast.

    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.