Sweet Potato Breeding

Farmer: Kate Garvie

Farm: Heartbeet Farm

Region: East

Publish Date: February 6, 2018

Article Type: Research Protocol

Research Priorities: Seed Production, Selection & Breeding 

Most sweet potatoes are grown from slips, which are clones of the tuber. This means that no new genetic diversity is created each year, with no progress towards regional adaptation. As a hexaploid (six homologous sets of chromosomes), however, sweet potatoes are very genetically diverse. To get new genetic diversity, plants need to be grown out, produce flowers and also produce viable seeds. This is difficult because most varieties of sweet potato show self- and cross-incompatibility, low natural flowering ability, and low seed fertility. Starting in 2019, Kate will evaluate and select tubers for southern Ontario’s growing conditions.