Open Source Plant Breeding Forum

General Category => Plant Breeding => Topic started by: reed on 2019-01-13, 06:44:39 AM

Title: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-01-13, 06:44:39 AM
Many people familiar with the HG forum are already familiar with this project so rather than start all over I thought I would just give a run down of how it stands now. My eventual goal is to release and sell true seed producing sweet potatoes as breeding material under the OSSI pledge. I just need to produce sufficient quantities, develop a good naming convention for the different lines and find out, in the event I want to release some as clones, what legal hoops I'll need to jump through to send them through the mail.

Anyway, five years after discovering my first true sweet potato seed  I have a total of 8 of my own seed grown clones that meet my criteria of short season production (100 days or less) of both food quality roots and seeds. I recently became aware that there is also more interest in lines developed more for greens over roots than I realized. That might greatly increase those I keep as clones. Up till now I have been mostly discarding those that only produce foliage, even if they did make seeds.

As it stands now along with those 8 seedy clones and a few other, non-rooting ones and after finding a pack I had forgotten about I have approximately 2500 seeds. Half or more of those are buried deep in the ground in well sealed stainless steel canisters.

I'm interested also in developing lines that are easy to grow and tolerant of poor conditions or neglect so I take no special actions to insure germination. I start them in cool conditions on a drafty window sill on a cheap heat and without any artificial lighting. Germination in successive generations under these conditions has increased from about 5% within a week to about 20%. Germination in an outside cold frame of just a few seeds in that time was 2%. Germination by folks I'v shared seeds with using much more controlled conditions was reported much higher, in the neighborhood of 90%.

My friend Richard in New Zealand had germination of 20% or higher, I think using a technique similar to mine and some of his plants are currently blooming. The climate there is not especially friendly to sweet potatoes so I'm watching his reports closely and keeping fingers crossed he gets good roots and seeds.

I hope in 2019 to get reports from New York and Germany. Other locations where they have been trialed include;

Sweden - no real report on germination or success
 
North Carolina - poor germination using techniques similar to mine, good root production on those that did grow, no seeds. No seeds was due to poor observation and repeated destruction of the vines by rabbits and deer. (*interesting, you can still get a harvest even if vines are seriously damaged)

Minnesota - no report, I think he may not have planted them yet.

Texas - excellent germination direct seeding in mid May, excellent root production, few seeds. I don't know a reason for the poor seed production there.

California - excellent germination, excellent seed production but most with poor stringy roots. I imagine by selection, crossing to new varieties and mutation the stringy root problem can soon be solved. 

Utah, Ah, Ha, this is the most exciting. This farmer and you know who you are Joseph Lofthouse did cheat some by tightly controlling germination conditions and got very good results. Still in a high desert with cold nights and a frost free season of less than 100 days managing to harvest food sized roots AND seeds FROM seed is pretty exciting.

I'm thinking for this year I will focus on continuing to push the extreme of germination under poor conditions (for sweet potatoes) even farther and plant about 500 seeds in the unheated cold frame. Select from them the first 20 or so that sprout and discard the rest. I'll also maybe keep some of the later sprouting volunteers which I expect because of my poor seed collection practice last year. I may not start any inside this year.

I'm also going to grow more individual plants of my saved clones instead of just one or two to increase the number of harvested roots from them. Those 8 all make good roots and seeds so I hope to cross them with several new commercial clones I'll get from Sandhill Preservation and elsewhere.

I want to up my seed production to 5000 this year. It's an ambitious goal not because it will be that hard to get the plants to do it, just have to have enough of them. It's ambitious because they are not exactly what you could call determinate. They just keep making seeds, you can't just harvest them all at once like you might with dry beans, there are only at most 4 in each capsule instead of hundreds like in a tomato. You have to spend an hour or more every single day looking for and collecting the seeds and there is a narrow window before they shatter. O'well, somebody's gotta do it I reckon.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes
Post by: nathanp on 2019-01-13, 10:10:59 AM
How many seedlings do you figure it took growing out to get to the 8 clones you have that produce well for you?  I'm curious about percentages of seedlings that germinated.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes
Post by: reed on 2019-01-13, 03:35:47 PM
How many seedlings do you figure it took growing out to get to the 8 clones you have that produce well for you?  I'm curious about percentages of seedlings that germinated.

My poor record keeping is biting me in the rear again but I'd guess very roughly, it took 150 germinated seeds to find the eight clones I'm keeping. That's over the life of the project but the % of good ones is increasing. I think I had just one of my own seed grown clones in 2016, two in 2017 and then it jumped to eight this past year. The first one has been dropped because the next two were both better. I still have those two and six new ones from 2018.

The six from 2018 came from about 40 germinated seeds. So I guess about 15%, that's way up from prior years.

To release seeds for sale and or pledge I want to be confident that a minimum of 10% of seeds will produce a good plant, I think I'm already there but I need to be able to document and describe them more accurately, so better record keeping from now on, is definitely called for.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-01-23, 08:50:29 AM
Past seasons I'v grown my sweet potatoes in a combination of large tubs, smaller pots, and in the ground. This year I am transitioning  to growing exclusively in small 3 - 5 gallon pots. This will keep initial growth high enough off the ground to be safe from the rabbits that always seem to break into the garden at lest once in awhile. Growing in the small pots allows me to easily harvest just by dumping them out and also very importantly to easily select for the "clump root" trait that I like. Clump Root varieties make all their big storage roots in a nice clump directly under the main plant stem which again makes harvest much easier even if grown directly in the ground.

I'v found that they grow and produce very well in pots much smaller than I used think they would as long as all the drain holes of the pot are buried in the ground to prevent drying out from the bottom. It's important not to disturb the pots once planted so the long feeder  roots can exit the holes and travel as they will in the ground beneath. Some plants I'v seen will develop storage roots off of those feeder roots in the ground.  Plants that do that as well as plants that don't make storage roots at all will be easily identified and eliminated as clones.

I can also identify root size and shape properties this way. Shorter, fatter storage roots form perfectly in the pots where as long thinner ones hit the bottom of the pot and end up crooked. Giant "clunker" roots can push themselves up out of the pot.  I'm looking for plants that make a nice clump of roots the size of large baking potatoes and since I already have some that meet that description I think by saving only them as clones and recrossing them for seed each season I can increase that trait. 

I don't want at his point to discard very much genetic diversity so I'll still keep seeds from any plant that produces them well. As far as diversity goes however I think it might take a long time to actually genetically depress a variety, they are just too diverse to start with with many phenyotypes that don't resemble any of the original parents showing up in successive generations and in all sorts of combinations.

I'm also going to trellis the vines this year and even trim bushy plants to just a few stems. This will help in three ways I think. One to add still more protection from rabbits, two, to prevent vines from flopping on and rooting to the ground, which I think can cause small storage roots to form, taking away form the main ones under the main stem. Last and most important to make it easier for me to do my seed inspections. if I don't have to stoop over so much or dig around in thick bushy foliage it will help a lot to prevent losing seeds to shattering because I didn't find them in time.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-01-23, 10:02:17 AM
Growing in pots would mean warmer soil = better growth, only that the need to stop them from drying out. This maybe a good way for me to grow in my changeable climate (62F today, near 100F next week), so wouls i be right in that the bottom of the pot needs to be just below ground? would have to go too deep.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-01-24, 01:51:09 AM
I don't think the pots have be buried very deep, just as long as the side drain holes are covered good. I have some pots that only have bottom drain, I like them better.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-01-27, 01:23:21 AM
That's all ive got in the large pots are bottom draining, I'll play around next summer with them
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-01-27, 04:15:59 AM
I don't think the pots have to be very large. I just use ones I collect up from the curb where people set them out for garbage. like I said, 3 to 5 gallon range. I'm not going to use my big cattle feed or half barrel tubs this year. There is no need to give the plant what it needs nutrient or water wise inside the pot, they get that from the feeder roots in the ground.

This year I'm gonna make mounds about 12 meters long, similar to If I was gonna plant in the ground but instead I'll set the in the pots making sure the drains are well buried and heavily mulch around and between. Then a trellis of fence wire across the top. They don't really climb like a bean but it is easy to stick the vines through and then back through the other side as the grow. Seed collection should be much easier than how I'v done it in the past.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-01-27, 10:09:09 AM
The pots that I have are about that size.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-02-04, 07:18:05 AM
Was just short of 70 F here yesterday after a few days with lows below 0 F. Houseplant sweet potatoes got to spend the afternoon outside in the full sun. Gave them a nice drink of pond water with a little bird poo from under the feeder and washed the indoor dust off their leaves with a spray bottle. They were looking a little poorly from the cold windowsill and lack of light but starting to get new shoots now that days are getting longer so I clipped off a lot of old leaves. They seemed to enjoy their outing and spa treatment and looked very happy this morning. I'm in hopes the rough conditions on the window sill, going back and forth from the heat of afternoon sun + nearby wood stove to cold drafts at night might spark some mutation.

Also took a peek at the roots being saved for slips, all look great save one that is pretty badly withered up. So bad at one end I couldn't read what I had written on it. First though to go ahead and try to sprout it but decided if it has tendency for spoiling before spring I don't want it anyway so I pitched it in the compost. 
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-02-04, 12:34:35 PM
A question, I'm sure I understand this right but if a flower has failed to be pollinated the flower and base drops off straight away? most of mine are still on a week later is a good sigh??
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-02-04, 03:23:21 PM
A question, I'm sure I understand this right but if a flower has failed to be pollinated the flower and base drops off straight away? most of mine are still on a week later is a good sigh??

Yep, that's about right, they drop off pretty much immediately if not pollinated. Sometimes the individual stem is still there, sometimes it drops off too. But if the base of the flower is still there then a seed capsule is developing. I never tracked it for sure but seems like it takes em a good bit to mature, a couple weeks or more.

I'm undecided on how to go on with mine. I want to trial a lot of seed in the cold frame outside to select for those that easily sprout like that but I also want to get some new commercial clones and try to up the genetic diversity. I can make more than enough to plant a large patch from my saved roots and clones and most all of them are good seeders so I'm thinking now I might just use them with some new purchased ones for the new diversity and save the cold frame trials for the next year. 
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-02-04, 03:58:13 PM
That's great, that means ive got seed developing on two plants.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-02-18, 06:10:02 AM
I think I'v decided on my sweet potato plans for this year. I'm seeing lots of new kinds coming from apparent genetic segregation and even some mutation but still all of mine are descended from those same original parents and I already have a good backup supply of those genes in my stored seeds.  I also have my saved roots and clones that grew from them in the last couple seasons. I kind of hate the idea of not starting any from seed this year but I don't think I will, or at least not many if I do.

Instead I'm gonna get as many new kinds as I can and grow them together with my cloned seedy varieties and see if I can get new genes into my mix. I'll grow several each of my own, especially my favorite seedy, clump root types and at the same time maybe produce enough of their roots to possibly share some as OSSI clones. That however is an issue I'll have to look into as I don't even know what is needed or how much it would cost to legally be able to ship sweet potatoes or slips, one of those bridges to be crossed when I get there I reckon.

I'll do mass poly-cross this year and keep track of seeds by who the mother was just like the university breeders do. I'll do that for any seeds from new varieties and I should probably also give more official and permanent names to my own varieties so I can track them the same way.

I'll be set back a year on finding new seed sprouted varieties that meet my favored phenotypes but that's OK as I already have several that are petty darned good for growth habit, production, flavor and seediness. I'm gonna go all out, well as far out as I can, on buying new ones and I want it to be the last time I shell out money to buy slips, it's just way too expensive. Insane for folks who always grow sweet potatoes to buy them every year but to each his own I suppose.

I'v got about ten, new to me, varieties picked out and if I get seed from half of them I will be happy. I should be able to get lots from my own too along the way, I'm shooting for a number in the thousands from them. All in all sweet potatoes is probably take a big chunk of my gardening effort this year.
Title: Re: Breeding New Sweet Potatoes for Growing from True Seed
Post by: reed on 2019-03-17, 04:23:09 AM
Reed, getting back to edible ornamentals--

What about breeding some sweet potatoes selected for both beauty and flavor of foliage? Maybe it would be happy houseplants in winter that you could snack upon. Then it gets used to make starts that are set out in spring and grown for greens.

In tropical areas sweet potatoes are a favorite crop to interplant with corn. I suspect they wouldnt get enough sun interplanted with corn in temperate areas. But maybe they would. or maybe they would if they were mostly producing leaves rather than roots. Might be worthwhile deliberately selecting under shady conditions. Lots of urbanites have gardens than are mostly shaded because of other houses and trees.

I have some pretty close to that growing on the window sill right now. Can't do much snacking on them cause conditions in my house are pretty poor for sweet potatoes or any tropical houseplant. Just keeping them alive has been the goal but I do notice some stay happier looking through the cold dark days of winter than others. They are all perking up now that it is warmer and have been outside on days over 60, even those that looked bad are growing nicely now. It works out pretty good cause you end up with bare stem with new growth on the tips which allows allows for rooting new plants that have not been in contact with soil. A couple have tried to bloom intermittently, in a warmer brighter house they might bloom all winter.

I'm not sure but sweet potatoes may like it in some shade. Especially those with dark purple leaves often wilt pretty dramatically in hot afternoon sun. I finally figured out that just cause they like it hot doesn't necessarily mean they like full sun. It probably depends on where you live. In a cooler place full sun, in a hotter place some afternoon shade might be better.  In my experience so far I haven't seen it make a dramatic difference in production or in blooming. I'm moving mine this year to the end of the garden where it goes in shade about 4 PM or so.

I'm finding that other than being slightly less cold tolerant than tomatoes, sweet potatoes are very adaptable and sturdy plants. I have a lot of them and I've had to discard a lot that might have been great ones to go on with for ornamental or eatable leaves cause I just don't have room to keep them all so I have mostly focused on my primary goal of a line that reliably produces good food from seed. 

It happened a little by accident but I do kinda now have two basic kinds. Seed production ability is still the most important so when I originally kept those that did that but that did not make big roots the only way to do it was as houseplants. So now I have the rooters + seeders saved  mostly just as roots and the non-rooters saved as plants.

Some of those sprouted from seed more than a year ago and have been cloned since, so some of last year's new ones for example were descended from them. I'm adding new purchased clones into the mix this year and am going to try to focus on getting their genes into my grex so won't be starting as many seeds this year.

So this year:
I want to mix in as much new material as possible from several new commercial clones.
Produce as many seeds as possible from my old lines, hopefully in the thousands.
Establish better naming conventions and keep better records.

In future I want to divide the lines into the root group. Defined as reliably producing big roots (from seed).
And the ornamental / eatable group, defined as having beautiful eatable foliage and lots of flowers.

The two lines will eventually have to be maintained separately because some of the ornamental / eatable group while having what I call the super bloomer trait, make very few seeds and no large roots. I can't assume that because they don't make seeds that they don't make pollen so they will have to be kept separate so as not to degrade the big root quality of the other group.

I want any particular seed from the root group to have a 50% or higher chance of making big roots. I'm estimating that chance now from any of my seeds, at 10% but think that's low. Another thing I want to keep better track of moving forward. Actually I can do that this year with what seeds I do start. I'll accurately record % germ under my conditions and the % of those that make big roots. Of course both numbers might be different if more controlled germination practices were used but I want lines that don't need tight germination conditions. 


Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-03-24, 06:29:04 AM
I changed the name of this thread to better reflect my ultimate goal. Sweet potatoes that reliably produce food and seeds, from seed, in 100 days or less.

Achieving that will meet my needs of a staple food crop that requires no special storage requirements, that can provide food from harvest easily until the following planting time. It may even be possible to store food quality roots all the way till the next harvest, I intend to test that limit this year.

Reliable seed production insures the next years crop in the event all stored roots are eaten or lost. Innate longevity of sweet potato seeds adds an additional layer to food security. Sweet potatoes are or have potential to be a nearly perfect small scale, sustainable, staple food crop. Breeding for short maturity time moves this potential into regions not ordinarily know for sweet potato production and more importantly in my case, increases chances of a successful harvest in the event of adverse weather or other detrimental events.

So, I'm getting exited about starting this years crop. I think this makes the 6th season since I discovered my first sweet potato seeds and it has been really fun finding all the new kinds that have showed up from the original crosses. All of my houseplant clones are looking great and all of my saved roots have kept nicely. In about a month I'll be sprouting slips.

I have I think eight new ones this year, a couple from the grocery store, a couple local ones gifted from other gardeners and some I ordered which should arrive in May. I'll be planting them all in 3 - 5 gallon pots to test for my preferred "clump root" trait. They will all be trellised this year to help protect from rabbits and make seed collection easier.

I'm gonna grow a few of each kind and dig some, starting maybe as early as July so I can compare root size and storage ability at different stages. I discovered that large roots can be removed and the plant replanted without significant reduction in seeds. Also gonna do more experimenting with eating the greens.

Still struggling with my decision, due to space constraints to not start any new seeds. I'm not sure I can stand to do that and since I also want them to not be picky about germination conditions I will probably sow at least a hundred or so in the cold frame like I do tomatoes. Any that sprout quick in those conditions will be kept even if I have to scale back on some other project to make room. 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Nicollas on 2019-03-25, 06:43:29 AM
This is a great goal !

Please keep us updated
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Andrew Barney on 2019-03-25, 07:59:18 AM
This project has me very excited! Can't wait until this project evolves enough that I feel comfortable requesting seed samples to try. But I love the goal! I think it is totally possible with a little work. I love the True seed projects for all the cloned crops.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-03-25, 12:49:04 PM
This is a very interesting project alright, I'm really getting a kick out of being involved. I suppose the goal would be 90+% of seed sown producing an acceptable crop yield, tubers close to stem, taste while still been a good seed producer. Be interesting to see what happens over the coming year with the colours, will they merge or still throw the variables like at present   
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-03-25, 01:48:57 PM
This is a very interesting project alright, I'm really getting a kick out of being involved. I suppose the goal would be 90+% of seed sown producing an acceptable crop yield, tubers close to stem, taste while still been a good seed producer.
Now don't be gettin too far ahead of things, right now I'm shooting for 50% in short term at least. I already have some that are pretty close to the other criteria but need to grow them in isolation with themselves to find out self compatibility and the like, lots more along those lines to do, not sure there even is an end to that tunnel, let alone a light at it.
Be interesting to see what happens over the coming year with the colours, will they merge or still throw the variables like at present   
I hope they keep the color variability and think they will for at least a good long time. Just too many things not in the original parents have sown up to think they will easily settle into something fixed. Or maybe I'll find various ones reasonably stable for a particular color combination / flavor, that would be sweet. 



Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-03-25, 05:53:17 PM
I'm really talking the loonng term goal, a lot to be done before then I know, Ive gota get bloody seed yet.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-03-26, 06:39:41 AM
Of course the higher that percentage the better but since a lot of them make a lot of seeds it still provides the insurance needed to restart your crop in the event all clones are lost even if it is as low as 10%. And all along the way a gardener can keep accumulating good ones as clones.

What I hope, is that by growing those good ones together and gradually culling the  poorer ones is that each years new seeds just keep getting better and better.  I call it genetic distillation, that's what I'v done so far and seems to be working pretty good. It will mostly be put on hold this year I guess in favor of trying to introduce new genes in the mix.

But then there is another problem that a lot of those very good at making seeds are not so good at making roots, although they might be fine for eating the greens. But without sizable roots to store they have to be kept over winter as plants which is another problem.

And still another problem I've encountered is some that have what I'm calling the "super bloom" trait make very few or even no seeds at all. Why not? I have no clue. Is this female sterility inheritable? Should I completely eliminate them as soon as I see they are not setting capsules? Should I discard seeds form other plants  that formed or were in process of forming prior to those being culled? This trait reveals itself early enough that it would be possible to do that and still get more seed from the others so as pretty as those are I may start doing that.  (I think these might be the selfed offspring of other good bloomers)

On the other hand I think it is possible that some are only compatible some particular other one which might explain tons of flowers but no seeds then all of a sudden seeds start to form when a much later flowering plant started blooming.

I don't have near enough experience or documentation to say for sure but there seems to be a relationship between those that make fewer seeds having the best roots and the most interesting color combinations in the roots. They also seem to make although fewer seeds, the best seeds. They are bigger, there is usually a full four per capsule and they seem to sprout the fastest.  They have just two to maybe four flowers per peduncle instead of a dozen but they have them at nearly every leaf joint and they very rarely abort after pollination. They are much longer vines with much longer internodes. Most of those that have volunteered from lost seeds were like this.

Lots of questions but lots of fun trying to figure it all out.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-04-06, 07:27:24 AM
I'm chomping at the bit to get some sweet potatoes going but guess I'll hold off a little bit longer, still some danger of frost and I don't want a bunch of plants to keep inside or covered. On the other hand I came across some more information, it answers some questions I had especially about maturity plus other useful information.

SandHill website has a great information page on growing them. [url = https://www.sandhillpreservation.com/sweet-potato-growing-information]https://www.sandhillpreservation.com/sweet-potato-growing-information (https://www.sandhillpreservation.com/sweet-potato-growing-information)[/url] it describes maturity as
Quote
Early - at 90 days here in Iowa these have reached full size.
Early/Midseason- at 90 days  the majority of roots are full sized and mature.
Mid-season - at 90 days here in Iowa these still have roots that need a few more weeks to bulk up.
Late - at 90 days here in Iowa these only have about 25% of the roots mature.
Very Late - really nothing much at 90 days.  These need around 140 days.
All of my original varieties, or at least those that did well, except for the ornamental one came from their early group. Now to meet my goal of mature roots in 100 days or less from seed I may need to do some selection, but I think it is possible.

Their info on to talk about some very interesting stuff concerning GDD and storability related to root size. 
Quote
This is the most important thing when it comes to sweet potatoes.  It is the heat units that determines success, not the number of days nor plant zone, but heat units.  I have been an avid weather observer for over 40 years and have files of weather data to go with files of planting data.  A few years ago , thanks to the help of one of our workers, I was able to put the two sets of data together and arrive at some conclusions that I had already suspected, but had never had the time to confirm.  It takes about 1200 heat units for our early varieties to reach a decent crop of usable size roots.  I use the term usable size as I think for many a sweet potato the size of a nice fat bratwurst is about the best size for keeping and for baking.  Bigger than that is okay, but they do not sprout as well nor keep as well because they suffer from bruising much easier.   

All very very interesting stuff, can't believe I missed it before on their web site, anyway glad I came across it. Concerning the heat units and this also relates to climate change I did some research a couple years ago at the time concerned with corn and made a chart of heat units for my location. Looks like I easily have the required 1200 in any two month period, enough maybe I can do two (seed to seed) cycles in one year. Again, even though I have a fairly long season, I breed and select for short season maturity. Learning to avoid excessive GDD by planting earlier or growing in shade may actually become more important that season length.


Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Oxbow Farm on 2019-04-08, 05:28:20 AM
Hi Reed,

It is true there is a ton of useful information on Sandhill Preservation,  especially about Sweet potatoes.  I find their sweet potato variety list a bit daunting to deal with though, since it is just a big list. It can be quite difficult and time consuming to wade through. 

I am looking for your advice as to proper timing for starting these true Sweet Potato seeds?  Now that I have some I am eager to get them started but I don't want to jump the gun either.  When is the right time to start them?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-04-08, 06:56:35 AM
Hi Reed,

It is true there is a ton of useful information on Sandhill Preservation,  especially about Sweet potatoes.  I find their sweet potato variety list a bit daunting to deal with though, since it is just a big list. It can be quite difficult and time consuming to wade through. 

I am looking for your advice as to proper timing for starting these true Sweet Potato seeds?  Now that I have some I am eager to get them started but I don't want to jump the gun either.  When is the right time to start them?

All of the seeds I sent you came form varieties that meet the Sandhill definition of early, well except for the one ornamental ancestor which starts blooming when very small. It didn't make much as far as roots but some of it's crossed descendants do. 

How you start your seeds is important. They like it hot but I don't artificially provide that, my germination rate in first week or so is very low, maybe 15% tops but all your seeds came from ones started like that. I think Joseph and Mike had much much higher germ rates using controlled and much warmer germination practice. I'm selecting for less picky ones and I have lots of seeds so I don't mind losing 85% of them .

I think in a shorter season climate and with limited number of seeds I would sprout em like they did to get the maximum and fastest germination. Just figure out the period when you'll have night time lows above 50 and time to accumulate 1200 GDD  and start about three to four weeks (they grow slow at first) in front of that.

I normally start mine about mid April to plant mid to late May but I'm not starting many seeds this year. Those I do I'm doing in an unheated cold frame instead of inside and probably not till first of May. I want to keep pushing for easy sprouting and if possible tolerance to cooler temps along with fast maturity.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-04-30, 07:51:30 AM
Well I couldn't stand the thought of not stating any new seeds at all this year so I put some out in the cold frame. With all the slips from ones I'v saved and all the new ones I have ordered calling for more space than I easily have for grow outs, I almost hoped they wouldn't come up or at least not while it was still cool. If they laid there till June or so I would have considered them too heat loving and wouldn't have minded just forgetting them but 3 out of about 50 popped up in a couple days so now I'm obligated at least for those three.

It's gonna take a 1/4 of my total garden space but I guess that's OK. I hauled over a bunch of partially composted wood chips last fall and spread it around in one corner of the garden about a foot deep. Week or so ago I tilled it all up good to mix it with soil so now I have plenty of easy to get material to fill the pots and I have plenty of pots collected. I'll use that same area to set the pots and mulch heavy around and between with more of the rotting chips. Old fence and posts are on hand for the trellising and I'm gonna try to space them a little better this year so I can tell them apart. All in all I think it should be easier this year observe differences between plants and most important easier to stay on top of seed collection. I even have good intentions of recording and saving individually from each mother plant rather than dumping them all together, will see how that goes. I definitely will save earliest seeds separately as I'v done before and I may even dig and examine roots of those plants at the point of first mature seed. 

Most of the slips and overwintered house plant starts I'm using are from my "good seeder & good root" plants with emphasis on the "clump root" trait that I like.  I considered dropping the "super bloomers" because they make crappy roots but decided it is too early in the project to do that. I think a lot of them are self compatible and may have ability to unlock seeding in others, especially those that are thought of as female sterile which a couple of the new ones I'v ordered are. I don't believe they really are, they just haven't met the right father yet, I'll find out.

So, I'll see how it goes this year. I hope to get thousands of seeds and especially hope to add in new genetics from the new varieties. If I'm successful in that I'll consider the first phase of this project more or less complete and move on to  continuing selection for easy sprouting, short maturity, clump root and so on ending ultimately with seed grown annual sweet potatoes; making the storage of roots of this important food crop an option rather than a necessity.

It would be pretty cool to have them like what Joseph is working on in his tomatoes, compatible between plants but not within a single individual, but I don't have a clue on how to go about doing that.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-05-14, 05:00:11 AM
ALL of my sweet potatoes, roots producing slips, houseplant clones and this years sprouts are out in the cold frame and looking pretty good. Last couple days it turned cold, not freezing but well under the 50 F threshold of happiness for sweet potatoes. Last night mid 30 s was predicted and I contemplated bringing them in or at least putting blankets or something over the frames but I decided heck with it. They were not going to freeze and worst that might happen is they would be slowed down a little. And I'm selecting for quick maturity, even if they are delayed I bet they would produce just fine if not planted till July, plus they like heat and tolerate drought. It actually only got to 44 F this morning and that's warmer than the last two.

I also realized a primary goal of this project, that of having a nice archive of seeds, is already achieved.  As long as ya got a nice stash of seeds, loss of even all the plants would just be a set back not a total disaster. 

My new ones I ordered won't even ship till late this month so it should all still work out fine. Looking forward to getting the new genetics mixed in and from then on never buying another one.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-05-14, 01:59:29 PM
Thats why I have to be every care with my plant having no seed back up, though spreading them around the country helps give the project more security, ive sent most of the batch of cuttings up to the North Island and they are doing fine, a second lot sent south took three weeks to make the 400km trip, %$#* NZ Post, they were completely buggered on arrival.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-05-19, 08:29:14 AM
I'm a little later than last year getting my clones ready but that's OK as the new ones I ordered won't be shipped for at least another week. Any way below is a picture that shows how I do that with the houseplant clones. Slips are similar of course but you just pluck them off the root. 

I don't think it is good to just replant a plant you've kept over winter as it will be root bound. Sandhill advises against potting a slip and letting it get roots before planting and I think that is real good advise. They just won't produce good if you do that. Just a couple small roots or even no roots at all assuming it is warm and you keep them very wet for a couple days is best.

You can see the root bound mess this plant is in, so I just clip of some tips and reroot them in sand and water. The sand is just to hold them in place a little and make the cup bottom heavy. These new clones should be ready to plant in just two to three days.

This particular plant was a volunteer last year and spent most of it's life buried under some tomato vines, it didn't make any roots to speak of but it bloomed nice. I think no roots was due more to that only a few of it's leaves found any sunlight till I ripped out the tomatoes rather than the fact it came up late.  I was pleasantly surprised to see it made a cute little root in it's pot over winter. Only the good rooters do that

Sorry about the poor image quality and the ugly writing over it.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-05-19, 01:27:33 PM


I don't think it is good to just replant a plant you've kept over winter as it will be root bound. Sandhill advises against potting a slip and letting it get roots before planting and I think that is real good advise. They just won't produce good if you do that. Just a couple small roots or even no roots at all assuming it is warm and you keep them very wet for a couple days is best.



This has been something Ive done for the past three years with my wintered over Kumara plants, mind you I use large pots though, maybe this helps as I still get reasonable roots from them. I will still do what you are doing come spring but have two separate beds, one for tuber growing and the other for the plants that I'm wintering aimed for getting seed, a large well established plant by the time the summer heat kicks in should give me the best chance I feel.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-05-19, 05:05:51 PM
O yea, didn't think of that. Probably fine or even better for seeds to plant larger ones with old roots intact. A couple of mine had already started blooming not long after going out to the cold frame. It's been plenty warm here, hot actually in my opinion and they've been in full sun. 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-05-19, 06:59:29 PM
What will be large plants come spring were cuttings 6 weeks ago, they will just chug away through winter slowly growing, so 6 months in a pot.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-05-26, 02:55:56 AM
Well, I am officially overwhelmed by sweet potatoes. I intended to grow five of each of my own but trimmed that down to three, then two and now just one of some. Only have a couple I'm still growing five of. Still it OVER fills the intended area where I'm putting them and the new orders, about 50 total haven't even shipped yet.

I suppose if it comes to it, I'll discard some of mine or just stick them out somewhere to take their chances with the deer and rabbits. Priority this year is still getting new genetics mixed into the grex even it means some that might have been worth propagating indefinitely as clones end up going extinct. Just not possible for me to keep every one that comes along nor does that further the goal of turning them into a seed grown annual. 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Doro on 2019-05-26, 04:27:06 AM
It's kind of heart breaking when that happens, I can relate to it very much. Same thing happened to me with the potatos, the cultivar collection has gotten too big to plant large amounts of each one. When I was done planting and had so much leftovers waiting to be planted, I just could not compost them and put a table at the roadside instead. For the neighbours to pick up all they might want. Everything gone in three days! It had a sign saying 'Free seedpotatoes, enjoy!' But I still find money in my letterbox or on the porch with thank you notes :) country life at its best.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-05-26, 01:12:06 PM
That's so nice to see Doro in a world of full of 'takers'
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Doro on 2019-05-26, 03:34:35 PM
It is really nice and I feel lucky that our small village still has a strong community feeling.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-05-29, 03:35:52 PM
Well shucks! Freakish weather resulting I can only conclude, from ongoing climate change is delaying delivery of my new varieties. The grower reports a long period of cool, wet, sunless conditions has delayed sprouting of slips. It has warmed up some now with sunshine so if that holds they should start slipping, I will just get them perhaps in July instead of June. That's OK, I can work with it, barring any freakish early cool spells that is still time to flower and produce roots before frost in October. Or maybe it will be like two years ago and stay in the 90s till mid November.

My slips were somewhat delayed for the same reason but when we hit the low 90s F with hot sun they all took off. They are already planted but I didn't discard my slip roots and they continue to make more. Also have a few seed sprouted plants. If worse came to worse on the new ones I still have more than plenty to fill up my space, just wouldn't get any new genes mixed in. Heck even if they didn't come till August I bet I could still pull it off or if noting else save them as house plants till next year.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: naiku on 2019-05-30, 03:19:39 AM
This is a pretty exciting project. Sounds like the result would be *much* easier than growing them the traditional way to me (if it isn't already). At the very least, you could just start the seeds extra early (where needed), right?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-05-30, 09:03:30 AM
This is a pretty exciting project. Sounds like the result would be *much* easier than growing them the traditional way to me (if it isn't already). At the very least, you could just start the seeds extra early (where needed), right?

I'm most interested I think in the security that growing from seed provides. Of course you can always save good ones as clones but the back up seed archive makes it possible to star over in the event all the clones are lost or eaten. That's what I'v been doing so far, cloning the best ones and building the seed archive and since the best ones have also been crossing and back-crossing the % of good ones in new groups of sprouts just keeps going up. After this year I hope to keep doing that and also keep pushing the boundaries of tolerance to cold, poor growing conditions and fast maturity.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-01, 05:38:32 AM
I was weeding off a neglected  area last night and came across a couple sweet potato volunteers. I know I lost a lot of seed last year but the main growing spot was tilled this spring and planted with regular potatoes and mulched so haven't seen any volunteers there.

I had forgotten a volunteer had grown in this other spot last year so these must have came from it. Guess then that they are second generation sweet potato weeds, not sure if I will move them over with the others or just leave them be where they are.

The bigger one looks to be probably over a week old but the other just a couple days. They look very different but pretty sure the came from the same mother plant.

I don't think this is as rare as might be commonly believed. I know of at least one other person who has found volunteer sweet potatoes in his garden. I suspect it happens now and then but folks just don't notice or mistake them for morning glories or something and rip them out.

If I get good seed production this year it would be pretty fun to just throw about a thousand of them on the ground next spring and see what happens. Eliminate heat mats, cold frames, transplanting, the whole process, and go straight to selecting for direct seeded sweet potatoes. 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-06-01, 01:20:29 PM
Sowing them like you are sowing carrots ya reckon.

The later generator has that bushy bloomer look to it.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-02, 04:36:15 AM
Yep, I reckon so, just toss them on the ground and rake em in. The little one does look like bushy bloomer but the most likely mother plant looked more like the bigger one. Will be fun to see how they turn out.
I'v only got a few other seed sprouted plants this year, going for mixing new varieties with my old standby bloomers instead.
Looking forward to next year when I go back to starting lots of seeds, it's more fun that way,  not knowing what your gonna end up with.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: nathanp on 2019-06-02, 08:43:13 PM
I'm curious how much variation there is with the sweetness or sugar content of sweet potatoes in the seed grown populations you are all working with.

I haven't delved into much with sweet potatoes, partly because I do not care for the highly sweet tasting varieties I normally run into in grocery stores.  I have only grown very minimal amounts of one type of sweet potato.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-03, 03:10:43 AM
Some are not very sweet at all. I was disappointed about that at first cause all I knew ever about sweet potatoes before is that they are supposed to be sweet and orange.  I still like those too but I'm getting adjusted to the others as well.

I thought at first they had to be orange to be sweet but that isn't the case either, some are and some not. Also white ones may or may not be. I think I still like the sweet ones best but we are learning to use the others too, almost like a regular potato in stews and such. Last year I fried some white ones with onions and they were very good, texture was a little odd, kind of dry and crumbly.


Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-06-04, 09:37:13 AM
One reason I don't normally like sweet potatoes is that they are TOO sweet. So I was happy to try one last year that wasn't. Just fried it like hash browns, and it was great.

I hadn't thought of the problem with thinking a sweet potato seedling is bindweed. I hope I'll be able to tell the difference. We've erradicated bindweed in our yard, but I still get seeds blowing in from the neighbors.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-04, 06:15:08 PM
I think there are lots of non-sweet ones especially among seed grown. Probably less than 1/2 are sweet. That might not be true if two sweet ones crossed.

I think pretty much all Impomoea species look almost exactly alike when they first sprout. Sweet potatoes don't climb though or even stand up very tall before branching or falling over so by time they have two or three sets of leaves they are pretty distinct.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: ImGrimmer on 2019-06-05, 06:10:38 AM
Eliminate heat mats, cold frames, transplanting, the whole process, and go straight to selecting for direct seeded sweet potatoes.

That would be great. I try to go to direct seeding with every vegetable I breed.
How cold does it get in your area? Do you have snow cover in winter?
Snow might help the volunteers.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-05, 08:00:29 AM
We don't ordinarily get a lot of snow but it can get pretty cold, -10 F, I guess that is about -20 C. Volunteer sweet potatoes don't show up until at least late May, they can keep popping up all summer but of course those from August or later don't have much chance of maturing.  They like it hot. 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-09, 07:21:34 AM
Some of my new varieties arrived and are planted. They were lost in the mail for awhile and had no live leaves at all but roots and stems were fine and they are already starting to sprout new growth so should be fine.

On another note, a side project not related to turning sweet potatoes into an annual seed grow crop is to see if can make a perhaps hardy perennial by crossing to i pandurata. I tried before and got two seeds that I think were pollinated by pandurata but the did not sprout.

Also last year my I pandurata seeds did not spout. I think that might be because they, unlike I batatas do need cold stratification so I put some in the freezer last fall. Got them out about a month ago and planted just in a flower pot and left it setting in the garden. They were still slow but all of a sudden they popped up.

Not sure where to put them, being a giant perennial vine I don't want them in the garden itself so need to find a spot along the edge of the yard somewhere. It will be much easier to try  crosses once they are established and I don't have to drive somewhere to collect pollen.
(http://)

These all came from the same apparently self pollinated vine. I'v located seven wild plants but only this one made has made seeds. So, I'm wondering if they have similar tenancies in that regard as does batatas, mostly not self compatible but occasionally so.  If that's the case, perhaps since I have the very highly fertile types of both species I will get lucky and find crosses.

Or maybe there is another wild vine that I haven't found near the one that makes seeds, who knows?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Ferdzy on 2019-06-09, 08:22:59 AM
Wow, Reed, that's fascinating. I have never even heard of i pandurata even though according to Wikipedia it is native up into southern Ontario (where I live). It is very striking so I'm sure I would have noticed it if I had ever seen it in bloom. I will be watching this with interest!
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-10, 04:06:39 AM
The i pandurata is an impressive plant, it grows along the roads here and at the top of the river bank but it isn't real common. It's very pretty, it don't climb like a bean but its stems stand up a couple feet before falling over so if there is a fence or bushes to lean on and get tangled in it looks like it climbed. The one that makes seeds sprawls on the ground along a ditch and has vines probably 20 feet long.  it completely dies back in winter, amazing how such giant vines can grow back each year, I guess that is due to its big roots. I'v never dug up any roots so don't know what they look or taste like. The flowers are four or five inches across and there are lots of them, would make a nice ornamental if nothing else.

I guess the flooding weather from the plains has shifted east, been cool and raining here for over a week, sweet potatoes overall will not like this. 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-13, 03:15:14 AM
Still cool and wet here, not so bad as to do a lot of harm but enough so that my sweet potatoes are not growing as fast as normal. One of my new ones that came from Sow True Seeds  and was lost in the mail is perking up pretty good and YEA, the grower in Iowa report they have started shipping and expect to be done next week. Most of the new ones are coming from there and assuming mine are not in the group that are refusing to sprout slips due to cold weather, I should have them before July.

In the mean time I have planted a bunch of those I call Bushy Bloomer, BB Improved-1, and BB Improved-2 in very small pots that I can move around to facilitate pollination wherever I think it's needed.  I will probably drop the original BB after this year cause it doesn't make much in the way of usable roots. Time to weed out the non-rooters even if they do produce a lot of seeds. Any as yet unidentified traits they may have that should be kept already are kept in the seed archive.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Mike Jennings on 2019-06-13, 04:08:06 PM
I still haven’t gotten my sweet potatoes into the ground, although we are having plenty of hot weather now. My seedlings are still sitting in their 3” pots or still in the seed flat.

The tubers I saved for slips had some setbacks too. I set them out in flats of soil, in early May, to start sprouting, but then the weather turned cold and rainy again. So I put clear plastic covers over the flats to keep them a little warmer, but then the sun came out and scorched them, before turning cold again. About half the tubers rotted, but the other half finally has slips that are ready to plant.

We also had a very cold, rainy spring so all my overwintering crops have been delayed and are still taking up space where the sweet potatoes will go. Next week I will finally pull out the cauliflower seed crop, and plant the sweet potatoes. I expect my slips from Sandhill will be arriving soon as well.

My oldest seedlings are a batch of bushy bloomer descendants. Some of them are already starting to flower in their pots. I’m a little worried about them getting root-bound and that negatively affecting their tuber quality. In the Sandhill guide to growing sweet potatoes they really highlight the importance of not having too many roots on your slips, because that can make the tubers grow twisted and mis-shapen — reducing yield. I would think the same thing would apply to pot-bound seedlings.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-06-13, 11:23:04 PM
So do you cut off some of the roots on the slips?.

My bushy bloomer descendant is still producing flower buds yet its winter, but they fall off before they can open, too cold.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-14, 12:34:46 AM
When I have one that overwintered in a pot or even a slip that I think has too many roots I cut off the top and re-root it. If you keep it very wet for a few days a cutting can be planted without any roots at all. Lots of times trimmings discarded on the ground root down and resume growing.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-16, 08:07:08 AM
Rain and rain and rain some more so I got out my folder of material I'v printed about sweet potatoes and reread most of it. Glad I did cause a couple things I had forgot about are pretty important.

One is that forcing plants to flower might pass poor flowering into offspring and since I want plants to flower on their own I'm not sue I'll do much as far as forcing. I say not sure because it occurs to me the opposite of that might also be true, that forcing one to flower and crossing to one that flowers freely might result in offspring that flower just fine.

The other thing concerns female sterility. That is concerning cause I'v seen plants that bloom a lot but don't set seeds. Some are reportedly sterile in both directions but  that can't be assumed so I'm thinking from now on if you bloom but don't set seed then you need to go. And maybe it would be prudent to only keep seed collected after the bloom but no seed plants are  culled.

If a person only wanted new kinds to clone from there on, neither of those things would matter but I'm thinking for my purposes maybe should take them more seriously.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Joseph Lofthouse on 2019-06-18, 08:44:04 AM
I direct-seeded my sweet potato seeds this year as seed grown annuals.

I still have clones from last year that I could plant as well.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-18, 12:49:20 PM
I direct-seeded my sweet potato seeds this year as seed grown annuals.

I still have clones from last year that I could plant as well.

I hope to do that next year on a pretty large scale, at least 1000 seeds. This year I only started a few and have a few volunteers. Volunteers last couple years matured fully so I know direct seeding will work. For now I'll sure be glad when my new varieties arrive. 

Look forward to hearing how yours do. Do you have any sprouts?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Joseph Lofthouse on 2019-06-22, 10:36:55 PM
I direct seeded about 60 sweet potato seeds in early June. We had a few nights of frost around the 19th to 21st of June. The 16 or so sweet potato seeds that had already sprouted survived. They were barely emerged, so still close to the warmth of the ground.

Two years ago, the transplants were flowering on June 21st.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-23, 07:05:29 AM
I direct seeded about 60 sweet potato seeds in early June. We had a few nights of frost around the 19th to 21st of June. The 16 or so sweet potato seeds that had already sprouted survived. They were barely emerged, so still close to the warmth of the ground.

Two years ago, the transplants were flowering on June 21st.

Wow, surviving a frost that's pretty encouraging. A couple of my seed sprouted and one of the volunteers are blooming now but have not set any seed capsules. Only one of the slip or clone started plants (four plants but all from the same root) has bloomed but they do have capsules.

A couple recent days of more sunshine has resulted in an almost shocking explosion of growth and we are supposed to have a three or four day streak of warmer sunnier weather this coming week.

Still haven't received the rest of my new varieties. The grower reports as of 6/19 that some have only now started producing slips. My fingers are crossed that my order is or will soon be on the way. Our weather hasn't been any better than theirs but we did have some heat back in April and May and I started mine in the cold frame against the south wall of the house.

Might be prudent to pay special attention to this year's volunteers, particularly the one that is blooming, maybe it will also be a good rooter, can always hope.



Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Zach E. on 2019-06-23, 11:27:57 PM
Also last year my I pandurata seeds did not spout. I think that might be because they, unlike I batatas do need cold stratification so I put some in the freezer last fall. Got them out about a month ago and planted just in a flower pot and left it setting in the garden. They were still slow but all of a sudden they popped up.

In my experience they germinate right away after being collected, needing just adequate warmth and moisture, no stratification required. Being a northern-adapted plant it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. When I first started working with the species I assumed they needed to stratify, so I sowed a round of seeds in a flat in September, after I had collected them. Sure enough, they all germinated, and then were hit with frost a month later. Came back fine the following spring, but I thought it strange. Now I just store them dry and sow them in the spring. Most of them come up at the first go, but occasionally some of them germinate 1, or even 2 years later! Tricky...
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-24, 06:26:34 AM
Hi Zelfers, what else can you tell me about I pandurta? Have you tried crossing them with batatas?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Zach E. on 2019-06-24, 09:30:47 AM
Hi reed, no I've never tried crossing them with anything yet, but that is definitely on my to-do list. My strategy so far has been to grow all my Ipomoeas together is an area where natural cross-pollination can occur. Maybe I should be more serious and start collecting and storing pollen. As to what more I can tell you about pandurata, it is decently edible when young, not unlike a parsnip. They like a well-draining or even a dry soil. It is possible for them to die of root rot. Like with other Ipomoea the leaves are edible and tasty. It is a climbing vine and benefits from trellising, or having shrubs to climb on. Both pandurata and macrorhiza have very fuzzy seed margins, which makes them look almost like little insects. I have wondered at the possibility of a pandurata x macrorhiza cross, rather than the pandurata x batatas as is most commonly talked about. Macrorhiza, like pandurata, is a diploid, although I forget if the chromosome number is the same. Macrorhiza has a root structure very much like batatas, with branching, swollen tubers, and the ability to be propagated via root division and cuttings/slips (not sure if also possible with pandurata). Alternately, a macrorhiza x batatas cross seems really appealing. Macrorhiza is another species I grow and it overwinters in my zone 6b climate. USDA describes it only as hardy to zone 7, but I imagine this is due to lack of data -- macrorhizas hardiness could be even more northern than me! Most of my pandurata and macrorhiza plants are too young to be of use for breeding yet... they seem to want to take a few years to flower. Will be fun to keep working with these species into the future!
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Mike Jennings on 2019-06-24, 10:35:59 AM
Most of my pandurata and macrorhiza plants are too young to be of use for breeding yet... they seem to want to take a few years to flower. Will be fun to keep working with these species into the future!

Do you know how many seasons these species take to get a harvestable root? I have some I. pandurata seed from Reed that I still need to sow. Nice to hear that they germinate pretty easily. I probably still have time to sprout them this season.

Since these wild species are diploid, it seems like that may be a major impediment to crossing the with hexaploid I. batatas. Wouldn’t you need to induce polyploidy in the wild species, or is there another way the cross might be possible?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Zach E. on 2019-06-24, 11:31:16 AM
My thinking re: harvesting pandurata is waiting until the plants are old enough to flower and produce a seed crop, but not so old that the roots get fibrous and bitter. Harvesting during the early years of flowering is when the roots are at their best and also creates a selection pressure against old fibrous roots. Obviously it can be worthwhile to keep an old-growth parent plant or two around for seed, but after a certain age the roots ceasing being palatable. I'm not sure yet how well pandurata takes to vegetative propagation/root division, so harvesting after it has seeded the new generation may be the most sustainable approach. Once seeds are collected, you have the basis of building and expanding the population.

In the case of macrorhiza, because it propagates vegetatively through division, you might be able to treat it like a 2 or 3 year rotation sweet potato, which seems pretty neat to my mind. I'll have to get back to you in a few years on that one!

Good question re: the diploid x hexaploid issue. I don't know how to get around that! Maybe by some small probability the hexaploid will accept diploid pollen? Or I wonder if it's possible to make a complex hybrid hexaploid via something like pandurata x (macrorhiza x pandurata), and then use that to cross into batatas...
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-24, 12:50:48 PM
I tried propagating pandurata from cuttings and failed. They just didn't sprout roots like batata cuttings do. Great to know that about them being good if harvested young although young probably means at least a couple years. I found them pretty easy to transplant, having lost only one of a dozen I put out. I think they are too crowded so will have to thin later if they all take off good.

If I can find it again I'll post a link to a paper I found that said there had been successful crosses between batatas and pandurata. I don't remember all that paper said except that it isn't impossible. I don't worry over the ploidy issue myself, just figure I'll take a cross if it happens and not be too disappointed if it doesn't. 

The flowers of both are so easy to work with as far as emasculating and pollen collection is super easy too so I'll keep trying. I actually had two seeds, neither of which sprouted that may have been a cross. I say may have been because it isn't impossible that a bee also pollinated the same flowers, from now on I'll cover those I work with to prevent that.

Crosses I'v tried is where I drive to the pandurata plant, park in the road with flashers on and run up to get some pollen. Once I have my own flowering pandurata it will be much easier and I can also try it the other way.  I think that might work better cause I have a way more diverse collection of batatas pollen to try, if one plant don't work maybe a different one will. I'm also not above trying something goofy like grafting the two together to see if I can get a little nontraditional gene transfer started, actually I could go collect some cuttings and try that this year.

Right now though it's just wait and see how long it takes to get flowers. I'm not at all familiar with macrorhiza, always fun though to have something new to study.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: whwoz on 2019-06-26, 08:13:38 AM
My attempts to get flowers on Sweet Potatoes here in Gippsland, AU have been a total failure so far.  Those clones that I have been able to get have just not flowered under the conditions that I have had this last two years.  Need to try and track down flowering clones here without getting strictly ornamental varieties. 

Going by the seed set on the I aquatica i will not have any problems with pollination if I can only get a couple of flowering clones.

One comment that I can make, is that most slips that I have seen locally are pre-potted in 4 inch square pots and despite being well established with good root systems they have not produced deformed roots to an over-whelming degree, some in what I believe to be the variety Beauregard, but not that many in relation to the straighter roots.  The white skinned purple fleshed bushy var that I purchased this year put out new roots before forming tubers, but is a late season maturer, unsuitable for this area.  Getting named varieties here is not easy, although one or two of the seed companies list a few.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-26, 12:13:54 PM
Need to try and track down flowering clones here without getting strictly ornamental varieties. 

By ornamental varieties do you mean they are just pretty but do not make any usable roots?  Assuming they bloom, I think they are great to use in breeding. From what I'v seen, if they self pollinate or cross between two they tend to produce similar.

BUT if you can cross them to one that does make good roots, along with the stringy rooted offspring all kinds of great stuff also shows up in subsequent generations. Of course you still have to get flowers on the big rooted ones first.

I grew one hydroponically on a whim one time, I'm pretty sure it was Beauregard. I just dropped a slip root in the little stream part of my garden pond to keep it going in case I needed more slips. I never got around to pitching it out and it grew giant vines and flowered profusely. It was before I got interested in sweet potato breeding and did not have a mate for it so I got no seeds. I just mention it cause it might be a way to force flowering on the stubborn ones.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Zach E. on 2019-06-26, 01:19:10 PM
I ate the roots of the ornamental variety Marguerite/Margarita once. Although they were physically hard, white fleshed, they cooked up rather well and had an appealing flavor, i found. Definitely on the starchy side though. Because sweet potatoes tend to be either sweet or starchy, i would imagine that a lot of potatoes which don't make the cut, according to the breeder, may well be perfectly edible, but just too starchy for the standard consumer? Anyone else have experience eating ornamental sweet potato roots?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Mike Jennings on 2019-06-26, 02:52:49 PM
By ornamental varieties do you mean they are just pretty but do not make any usable roots?  Assuming they bloom, I think they are great to use in breeding. From what I'v seen, if they self pollinate or cross between two they tend to produce similar.

BUT if you can cross them to one that does make good roots, along with the stringy rooted offspring all kinds of great stuff also shows up in subsequent generations. Of course you still have to get flowers on the big rooted ones first.

I decided to pick a couple of ornamental sweet potatoes this year, just to add more diversity to my gene pool.

I have definitely noticed, over the years, that some of them do produce a fair amount of tubers. When I used to work in retail nurseries, I would occasionally get concerned customers show up to inquire about the mysterious tubers they the found when cleaning out their flower beds in the fall.

‘Lime’ and ‘Spotlight Red’
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-27, 03:46:37 AM
I ate the roots of the ornamental variety Marguerite/Margarita once. Although they were physically hard, white fleshed, they cooked up rather well and had an appealing flavor, i found. Definitely on the starchy side though. Because sweet potatoes tend to be either sweet or starchy, i would imagine that a lot of potatoes which don't make the cut, according to the breeder, may well be perfectly edible, but just too starchy for the standard consumer? Anyone else have experience eating ornamental sweet potato roots?

I think they are all edible but your probably right that the breeders are looking for those that meet a wide customer and grower preference. The only university program I know of says they start 50,000 seed per season but in recent years have only released one for commercial production other than their ornamentals. They hold patents on most of the ornamental varieties that I'm aware of except for a couple that predate their work with them. They are only patented against asexual propagation and  I'v tried breeding with some of theirs but they did not flower for me.

I always thought of them as being sweet and orange myself. I've found out there is lots of variety and I'v learned that some folks like less sweet ones better. I'm also learning to like the less sweet ones too, just cooked and used differently. My favorite is still a sweet one baked dry with the skin on but I think some of the starchy ones are good fried with onions or chunked up in stew.

Our weather has turned much warmer and drier and mine have exploded into growth and flower but I have still not received my new varieties. I went ahead and planted some more of mine in the spots I had saved but if the new ones get here I'll rip some back out.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: whwoz on 2019-06-27, 07:06:51 AM
Reed the only two clones that I have seen photos of with flowers are the following:
"Purple Raven"  from Green Harvest and
"Blackie" advertised by a Gumtree seller from the Noosa area on Queensland

Purple Raven apparently produces very few roots, not sure about Blackie.  Will wind up getting them anyway, hoping I can encourage the edible rooted varieties we have here Down Under to flower and start the seed generation process in a similar way to what you described on HG.  I intend to get as many clones as possible over the next year or two anyway to determine which variety grows and roots up the best in our climate.  One I was able to get last year was a compact bushy grower that had stems about 2 feet long when harvested, but the roots were nowhere what I would have liked thickness wise.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: esoteric_agriculture on 2019-06-27, 08:15:04 AM
This is a general reply to several questions and comments.
I’ve grown probably 10’s of thousands of ornamental sweet potatoes for my regular job. I have also dug many types out of landscapes or large containers at seasons end. Of the ornamental types , Marguerite/Margarita make the most quantity of roots, and they are certainly edible if starchy and harder. The other varieties I’ve tried all tend to have the harder, starchier roots. I think most of the newer, patented ornamental types have been intentionally selected for reduced to very reduced tuber production . I don’t find many if any roots worth trying to cook on the newer ornamental types. This year I made a point to carefully observe the ornamentals for any flowering. The Flora Mia series seems to have been selected for some flowering, this series flowers at least a little all season long so far.  Illusion Garnet Lace also flowers a bit all season but not as well as the Flora Mia’s. I planted both types out in among my edible type sweet potatoes, we will see what happens. I ordered slips from Sandhill this year, just got them this week.  Slips looked great and was sent plenty extra. I had requested varieties that flower readily and I was sent some Resisto along with a note  that said FLOWERS! . Hopefully it does flower as it sounds like a great one to use as a parent.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-27, 06:51:23 PM
Yea! mine also arrived from Sandhill just today and look great, they are all planted. I also got Resisto, as a substitute I guess for one that I wanted but must have been in the group that didn't make slips cause of the bad weather. I haven't looked up the description of Resisto yet.

I had to rip out about a dozen or so of my own that I had planted, just in case, but that's OK, still got plenty more.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-06-28, 04:20:38 AM
After setting out my new ones yesterday I realized again how out of control this project is getting. The terrible weather has played a part too in that I'm behind on almost everything in the garden. The sweet potatoes I put out earlier like I said exploded in growth as soon as a few days of sun arrived and are already starting to tangle up with each other, something I told myself I would avoid this year.

I had planned on keeping track of what mother plant a particular seed came from but with 50 plus plants, all mixed up, I would have to keep them all tagged, trimmed and staked and keep 50 plus individual packs to put the seeds in. Then I would have to take those 50 packs out each day and carefully collect seed from each plant. I know me and my dislike of recording and tracking and I know that it just isn't going to happen. And what would be the point anyway? All I want is the seeds and the diverse genetics they contain, I just don't care about the pedigree.

So, I'm just gonna keep seeds separate in special cases or where it is easy to do so. For example I'll leave the tags on all the new ones and in instances where I can tell for sure which vine a seed came from it will go in the appropriate pack, I only need six. Same with my own favorite plants like Bushy Bloomer Improved I and II and my favorite clump root plants, another eight. So about fourteen packs is all I need for seeds from individual plants or varieties and all the rest will just get mixed. And once I have a number of each individual ones collected I'll just mix them all up from then on.

Also, unless bad weather or something causes reduced seed production I'm not gonna stress over trying to collect every single seed. At least some of the lost ones volunteer the next year anyway so not really that big of a deal.

And I'm gonna be real picky this year on those I keep to clone slips from the next year. I'd like to trim mine down to just five or so and I won't be keeping any of the new commercial varieties. If they bloom and make seeds, they will be in my mix and if they don't make seeds I don't want them anyway.


Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-07-26, 08:02:33 AM
So far it doesn't look promising I'll get new genetics mixed into my grex. The new varieties just are not very pron to flowering even though they were described as such. There have been a couple flowers and there is still plenty of season so hopefully that might change.

Mine are flowering and setting capsules nicely but getting into full production has been generally later than in previous years. I'm sure that is because of the weird cool, wet period the first three weeks of June. I'm particularly excited about one of the volunteers. I ended up planting them in the ground, not pots, in a spot of their own.  The one is extremely bushy, growing almost in a mound holding its branches eight inches or even a little more off the ground. It's probably not more than a foot and a half across and it is blooming like crazy.  Sure hope it makes nice roots.

I can't believe that local adaption is responsible for the difference between mine and the new ones, the few years I'v been at it just doesn't seem long enough for that. Especially since weather each year has been different.  Maybe it is just that they are seed grown and crossed up, thereby releasing more genetic potential. O'well, don't matter all that much anyway I reckon. If the new ones catch up and at least contribute some pollen I'll be happy and if they don't I'll still be.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-07-27, 05:47:59 PM
Wouldnt mind seeing a photo of that extremely bushy plant, sounds really interesting.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-07-29, 04:21:23 AM
Wouldnt mind seeing a photo of that extremely bushy plant, sounds really interesting.

I'v got some in my camera but can't seem to find my usb cord to plug in the computer. It'll show up eventually I reckon.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-07-31, 01:14:13 PM
Here is my volunteer patch. Lots more have come up since I transplanted these here. I left a couple others where they were but have just discarded the ones that sprouted more recently. The one in the middle is my favorite, sure hope it makes nice roots.
Sorry again about the ugly writing on the picture.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Richard Watson on 2019-07-31, 01:22:40 PM
What a diverse collection of leaf shapes. Lots of flowers poking out from ya favourite in the middle.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-01, 02:16:38 AM
Yes, lots of diversity. The traits involved seem to be:
Leaf shape, either the heart shape or the fan leaf not a lot of variation here, just one or the other
Vine type, ranges from  very long vines to very bushy and everything between.
Leaf color, some range but again mostly one or the other either purple or green.
Blooming, a lot of variation from none to lots
Number of blooms per stem, from two or three up to twenty. Those with fewer per seem to make larger, better seeds that mature better and sprout easier. (bushy and more flowers per stem seem to go together)
And of course root size and color, huge range and lots of different combinations here. They also vary in how they taste, how well they keep and how easily they sprout when placed in wet sand the next spring. 

I was happy to see that green fan leaf one cause I haven't had many of them show up but it hasn't bloomed at all so I probably won't keep it even if it has good roots.
 
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-08-15, 08:59:24 AM
This is the best adapted this year. Reed, like yours the mounding shape (I believe this is one of your Bushy Bloomers) but no flowers yet. It's planted in a pit, which in hindsight may have been a mistake. The point being that it's taller than it looks. If I don't get any seeds from it I'll still keep the roots for next spring. Do sweet potatoes do better the following years like potatoes do?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-15, 11:56:15 AM
This is the best adapted this year. Reed, like yours the mounding shape (I believe this is one of your Bushy Bloomers) but no flowers yet. It's planted in a pit, which in hindsight may have been a mistake. The point being that it's taller than it looks.

Yes, similar growth habit to what I often see. Is it seed grown or a clone? What was the point of the pit? To help with water?
 
If I don't get any seeds from it I'll still keep the roots for next spring. Do sweet potatoes do better the following years like potatoes do?

If it makes good roots you can keep them and sprout new slips next spring. If it only makes stringy roots but you still want to keep it you can take cuttings and keep them as house plants.

I'm not sure about potatoes but new sweet potato plants are generally grown from freshly sprouted clones called slips,  rather than whole roots or pieces of roots. (sweet potatoes are roots, not tubers) although I don't entirely know the difference. So no I don't think successive years make any difference. Except that they can occasionally mutate as slips and supposedly this is more common in first few years after anew seed grown variety comes in existence. I wans't sure I believed it but I'v seen it happen a couple times now.

Mine are in good bloom and seed production right now after starting 3 - 4 weeks later than usual, due no doubt to the three weeks of cold rain at beginning of June, they didn't like that. Generally I have a few seeds mature before first of August, this year I just harvested the first ones a couple days ago. I select for the early seeders, among other things.

A few but just a few flowers are now showing up on some of the new varieties too but my tags faded so I don't know which, o'well.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-08-15, 04:11:25 PM
Seed grown, and the pit was for water conservation. However, the soil closer to the surface would have been warmer so I'm not sure the pit was a good idea.

I figure even if it has bad roots I can maybe get seeds the following season. Right now my main goal is seeds.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-16, 02:52:43 AM
Of course nothing grows without water but warmth is very important for sweet potatoes and they can tolerate a lot of it. They also tolerate a lot of drought. Mine often, as they do right now wilt in the intense heat of the day. It doesn't seem to slow them down much though. They also seem to do ok with some shade. Probably a happy medium or sweet spot on all those things that might maximize production but I don't care. I'm after a strain that is easy to grow from seed and tolerates what ever comes it's way. Tolerating the hot and dry seems to be built in, what they need is more tolerance of cool and wet.

Hey! I think I figured out the difference or a difference between roots and tubers. If you plant a potato (tuber) it grows new plants and tubers but the one you planted rots. If you plant a sweet potato (root), which is not recommended for disease and production but if you do it doesn't rot, it just starts growing again.   

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-08-16, 08:56:12 AM
That may be why the plants in another area aren't doing as well--they're under deep mulch in an area that gets watered every other day. Although the plants in the dry areas aren't doing any better.

These seeds were started in regular garden soil, with no bottom heat, no fertilizers, no additional lighting, no special treatment of any kind. Of those that survived to be planted, 100% survival. In comparison, the slips from commercial varieties had about a 25% survival rate. I'm hoping to get some seeds so I can get that second generation...

I'll keep roots for the best adapted of this year's seedlings, and try again next year.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-18, 03:31:46 AM
I'm getting more and more taken with the volunteers this year. This picture is of a couple that I did not transplant to the patch, still in the spot where they came up. I'm terrible at records but my computer tells me it was June 1st, when I posted a picture of them as seedlings so they must have come up just a few days before that. That would have put it in the hot dry part of late May before the cold wet three weeks of early June.

So at around 80 days they are flowering, well the purple one is and the green one will be in another couple days. They are both compact and bushy and together only span a couple feet around. They have not been watered at all in the current drought, (nearly 6 weeks, no rain) and they look great. Due to their very close proximity, I'm guessing they came form the same parent and they are far enough away from the other patch that a high % of seed will be between the two, or maybe selfed.   

Those that I did transplant are looking great too, blooming and setting seed like mad. Only exception and disappointment id the green ivy leafed ones, they haven't bloomed. I also am now wishing that I had not discarded those that came up later but I figured if you don't come up till late June or into July you probably won't make anything. In future I'm not gonna make that assumption.

Could it be that the best way to select for short season, regionally adapted, seed grown, annual sweet potatoes all ya gotta do is nothing? :D It will be another 50 days or so till I know what the roots look like, sure hope they  come out nice.

Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-08-18, 10:05:31 AM
That would be good. :)     

No seed on the one blooming plant yet. I was reading something about sweet potatoes being self incompatible. Is that correct? From what you said above it doesn't sound like it.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-18, 10:12:14 AM
That would be good. :)     

No seed on the one blooming plant yet. I was reading something about sweet potatoes being self incompatible. Is that correct? From what you said above it doesn't sound like it.

Lots of sources say that and I suppose it is generally true but I know for sure that it sometimes isn't.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-23, 03:54:58 AM
Sweet potatoes are really starting to put out seeds now but not all of them. I'm at a loss to explain it.

Mine that were planted as clones from those that came up from seed and have been saved over last few seasons are seeding. They are also wilting less in the hot dry afternoons.

New varieties that I bought as clones this year and that were described as good bloomers have bloomed maybe 10% of what mine are, wouldn't think to much of that except that, a couple of the original parent strains that I have saved as clones and that bloomed so much back in 2014, I think it was, are also not blooming. One of this year's volunteers isn't blooming but all the others are.

So all of mine except that one volunteer are blooming, seeding and wilting in the heat less than the others. All plants were slow to get started good because of the weird cool, wet of June but now mine are pretty much indistinguishable in size from any other year where all of the new ones are still rather puny, a couple of them died.

I don't see how the short time I'v been growing them is long enough for genetic adaptation significant enough to be easily observable. I have little clue of what epigenetics even is but reading about it in other threads has me wondering if it is somehow involved.

From the climate chance breeding thread:
I'm suspicious that some, maybe most of what we experience when we adapt varieties to our region is epigenetic rather than genetic change.
Seriously? A tropical plant that ordinarily doesn't even flower and usually doesn't make seeds even if it does can turn into something different just because of a few generations of sexual reproduction in a new climate?  I guess it might explain why the original parent clones that bloomed before but not this year. Maybe the wet cloudy period of June? Mine recovered from it in time to start growing good and they didn't? If so then I just lucked out that first year and weather happened to be hospitable to the old clone varieties but now the new ones are less picky about it?

However there seems to not be a single variety developed based upon an epigenetic change yet.
Hummm


Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Ferdzy on 2019-08-23, 06:30:04 AM
I'm not sure what Carol means by "not based in epigenetic change".

Pardon a rather muddled analogy...

If we think of the genes that a plant has as a hand of cards that the plant plays, the cards that the plant will play depend on factors like climate, soil, etc. So the cards being played may change, but the hand the plant was originally dealt was the hand the plant was dealt - if it doesn't have an ace, there will be no aces in the offspring - when it gets crossed or otherwise produces offspring through sexual reproduction the cards are coming out of that hand, as well as that of one other player. I do think that your best plants among the offspring will have received the best cards (genes) for your soil and climate, so yes, epigenetics does affect what you get. But there's nothing there you wouldn't have gotten through chance anyway, because the plant can only play the cards it has. It's just that not all cards get played in every round...

... clear as mud?  :o I thought so.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-08-24, 08:04:25 AM
I think that is a pretty good analogy, especially in regards to them making seeds. Not as sure about some of the other differences. Just don't seem logical they would even have some of the other cards that they seem to be playing, unless they have been holding them a very long time.

I sure am anxious to see what kind of roots I get from this year's volunteers, especially the later sprouting ones. I suppose I could dig some up and see and replant the tops to finish up their seeds but I'm resisting that temptation.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-08-24, 11:27:33 AM
I honestly think that plants seldom, if ever, let go of their "cards," and I think most of the possibilities are there even if the genes have been turned off. There's no discard pile in this game. Under the right conditions, those things will come out again simply because of survival needs.

Every plant, using the game analogy, has a hand they would normally play from and also a pile of cards to draw from under unusual circumstances. Most plants might not draw from the pile except under extreme conditions, but the cards are there.

I think sweet potato is one that draws from the pile easily.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-04, 09:41:07 AM
Getting good seed from the volunteers now, even the later ones. The plants are just as big and vigorous as those started from slips. I'm saving this seed separately from all the other. Since they sprouted, best I can figure, the very last of May and this being start of September it puts them in range of 90 days or a little over from seed to maturity.

Still resisting the temptation of digging them up to see what I'v got in root development but I did dig up a couple other non-flowering ones and found nice sized roots.

90 days approximate from sprouting to maturity? - seems well within reach
pulling that off by direct seeding? - also seems doable
stabilizing a population for that as well as root production while keeping diversity of color and flavor? Only time will tell I reckon but don't see why not.

What to do with all the new varieties that pop up along the way and that seem perfectly good for continuing indefinitely as clones?? I'v already discarded several over last few years because they didn't bloom. Due to garden and storage space constraints I may have to start doing that with some that do bloom. I suppose I can set a limit of say ten, and discard and replace as better ones show up.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-09-07, 09:15:00 AM
I dug up three of my smallest seedlings. Two had tiny roots on them, the other had nothing. I discarded the one with nothing and replanted the other two in my greenhouse. The first had a straight root about as big around as my little finger, the other had a gnarled purple root the same size. Two plants are blooming so far and I harvested my first seeds this morning.

As for those that don't bloom but have nice roots--give them away. Somebody can grow them.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-07, 03:33:09 PM
Glad to hear your getting seeds. I guess by fact your taking them to greenhouse your season is about done?

I tried giving some of my rejects away, they are perfectly good, same or better than those commonly grown around here from clones but nobody local seemed much interested and I'm not in position to ship live plant material.

I guess folks don't want the hassle of storing a root to sprout next year, they just always buy them. Actually I could maybe even sell some if I produced slips from them  in spring but I don't save them for that, we just eat em all. For now I even discard extra slips of those I do clone, someday maybe I'll be able to change that but not ready for it yet.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-09-07, 07:01:25 PM
I'm hoping we have more time, but I figured it doesn't hurt to move a few into the greenhouse. I'd like the greenhouse plants to be established by the time of the first frost, and my instincts are saying early frost.

Maybe with the extra heat they'll actually thrive, which they're not doing outside. Last year the greenhouse sweet potatoes died off in December. I hope by that time they'll either have roots large enough to try again next year, or seeds. I figure the well adapted plants will have the largest roots anyway, so no point in moving them in. Two of the three well adapted plants are blooming.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: ImGrimmer on 2019-09-08, 04:10:15 PM
@reed Today I found 2 flowers and several buds on your seedlings. only purple plants have flowers/buds all green plants don`t have buds.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-08, 07:24:15 PM
@reed Today I found 2 flowers and several buds on your seedlings. only purple plants have flowers/buds all green plants don`t have buds.

Great news,I was wondering how your's were doing. Just a very general observation and I'v seen exceptions but purple ones do seem to bloom a little sooner than green ones. Do you have enough season left to wait them out?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: ImGrimmer on 2019-09-09, 12:03:37 AM
It is getting cooler now but there are at least 2 months before first frost probably more. There is a good chance for seeds.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-11, 08:38:02 AM
Well, I'v got about 25 seeds so far from the new commercial varieties and looks like should double that or maybe a little more. Still don't understand why they grew so poorly. They arrived in very good condition and were planted just a few days later than mine but they just didn't take off growing very good and still haven't. Still I'm pretty happy to have gotten at least some seeds and they were closely interplanted with mine so probably got some crossing. Will be interesting to see how the less than spectacular vines did in root production.

Those two volunteers that I mentioned before have exploded in size and bloom over last few weeks. They have not even been watered during the extended dry spell and look better that those that were transplanted and watered regularly.  They are in a little afternoon shade, maybe that is the difference although they are also competing with the roots of the same trees providing the shade so I don't know. If these two plants have nice roots I think they will be the parents of the majority of next years crop.

I wonder about the effects of genetic depression in sweet potatoes?? They are supposedly very genetically diverse and I'v seen that with phenotypes not resembling either parent so for now I'm going on the assumption that it isn't a problem or if so not for many generations.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Lauren on 2019-09-13, 08:39:49 AM
The sweet potato seedlings were planted in pretty much straight sand (since that's what I have), with a heavy layer of mulch for water retention. This is one of the least adapted of the seedlings. I assume that thing at the base is the start of a root? It's not adapted, it's obviously not short season, and it didn't even get close to blooming. Maybe not enough sun? Not enough heat?

Do you see any reason to try to save this? Also, can a root this small be kept over winter to be planted in the spring?
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-13, 10:57:32 AM
I doubt that a root that small could be kept but it could be easily planted and kept as a house plant if you have a nice bright south window. I plant and keep cuttings in 12 ounce drinking cups. Based on the rest of your description though, I would probably just compost it.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-18, 10:38:52 AM
I thought about asking this in a new thread but decided I'd just leave it here and hope for some replies. I need advice and or opinions about some of my sweet potatoes.

My two favorite volunteers are simply covered in flowers, flower buds and seed capsules in all stages of development and the bumblebees are continuing pollinating the new flowers. I mean there are a LOT of them.  The seeds I'v collected so far are nice large, dark black and fully formed, I mean really nice, the best I think I'v ever seen.

I'm confident of getting a lot more seeds even if I do nothing but the new flowers, maybe not even the most recently set capsules  are going to have time to mature before frost so I'm thinking about cutting them all off. At least maybe the buds that haven't even opened yet.

Might doing so:
speed up maturity on the others? thereby increasing the total I end up with?
increase over all quality of the others, even though I hardly see how that's possible?
be in any way detrimental to the others??? I commonly remove a lot of leaves at this time of year to make seeds easier to find and have not seen a problems but I'v never cut the new growing tips before.


Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: Ferdzy on 2019-09-18, 10:45:01 AM
I often feel comfortable thinking, "the plant knows what it is doing", but in this case you are dealing with an essentially tropical plant... that thinks it has all year to ripen seeds. So yeah, I would be inclined to trim off the flowers at this point, at least. It might give the seed pods still in process a little boost.

I am so frustrated by my sweet potatoes this year. One of the ones we bought from the supermarket a couple of years back has been blooming nicely for about a month. Normally Georgia Jet would be also blooming like crazy - but not a single blossom to be seen this year. Not one! DAAAAAAmmmmmnnn.
Title: Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
Post by: reed on 2019-09-19, 02:31:42 AM
Thanks Ferdzy, that's what I'm thinking too. They're so pretty right now. I'll have to take a few pictures before I commence to chopping on them. I'll remove the buds that haven't opened yet and probably some of the most recently pollinated ones too.

Sorry yours are not cooperating. I guess the one that is blooming isn't setting seed by itself? I know self incompatibility is the norm but also know there are exceptions to that rule.