Author Topic: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)  (Read 3102 times)

Zach E.

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #60 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...
« Last Edit: 2019-06-23, 11:31:33 PM by zelfers »

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #61 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?

Zach E.

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #62 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!

Mike Jennings

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #63 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?

Zach E.

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #64 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...
« Last Edit: 2019-06-24, 11:39:15 AM by Zach »

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #65 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.
« Last Edit: 2019-06-24, 12:58:28 PM by reed »

whwoz

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #66 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.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #67 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.

Zach E.

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #68 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?

Mike Jennings

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #69 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’

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #70 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.

« Last Edit: 2019-06-27, 03:50:26 AM by reed »

whwoz

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #71 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.

esoteric_agriculture

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #72 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.
Very deep mildly acidic clay loam with abundant sandstone and quartzite gravel and stones. Very high water table, Border of Koppen climate Oceanic and Humid Subtropical, USDA Zone 6b, very windy frost pocket valley at the foot of a lonely mountain, historic dairy and orchard county.

reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #73 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.


reed

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Re: Breeding Sweet Potatoes (turning them into a seed grown annual)
« Reply #74 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.


« Last Edit: 2019-06-28, 04:29:30 AM by reed »