Sweet potatoes are must to have whenever you think of giving Thanksgiving dinner. They are the best staple whether you take it topped with marshmallows, savory or roasted.
Despite their likeness, most people misunderstood sweet potatoes. They are neither yams nor potatoes. They are different. Still, farmers in the USA are not focusing on boosting their production. The annual income from sweet potatoes is over $600 million.
How can farmers increase the yield of sweet potatoes?
To increase the yield of sweet potatoes, farmers have to fight back with weeds. Weeds hinder plant growth by absorbing nutrients, water and even sunlight meant for plants. In short, it will completely ruin the sweet potato crop if you don’t control the weeds.
You can control these weeds with herbicides. It is challenging to control the broadleaf weeds. When you use the herbicide for controlling broadleaf weeds, it may also kill the broadleaf sweet potatoes.
Herbicides are toxic to groundwater as well as human health. Recent research includes the evaluation of different safeners for helping sweet potatoes. This research is conducted by Giovanni Caputo and his team from Clemson University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a result of this research, scientists discovered diverse formulas to boost farmers’ income.
The findings of this research are published in Agrosystems, Geosciences and Environment Journal.
Experimental setup of the research
They choose a greenhouse in South Carolina as their experimental site.
After setting up the experiment, they test the effects of mesotrione and bentazon on two different varieties of sweet potatoes. The varieties on which herbicides are tested are “Covington” and “Beauregard.”
In the next step, they use plant hormones as safeners. These safeners help plants respond to stress. Another safener that they tested is melatonin. Melatonin affects the sleep-wake cycle of humans. Besides, it is a natural hormone of the plants and helps plants grow and photosynthesize.
Clemson’s team also ensures that safeners do not affect the herbicide’s ability to prevent weeds. For this purpose, they have evaluated new formulas on yellow nutsedge and palmer amaranth. Both these are significant weedy pests.
The newly developed formulas are effective weed killers. However, the effectiveness of safeners for sweet potatoes and non-effectiveness for weeds is not still fully understood. However, further research can help us understand this difference in effectiveness.
Findings of the research
According to the research findings, safeners work differently for different sweet potato varieties and herbicides. For instance,
- Melatonin reduces the amount of bentazon that affects the “Beauregard” variety. But there was not much effect on the Covington variety.
- Similarly, Ascorbic acid protects the Covington variety the best.
- Ascorbic acid and melatonin both give the best protection against mesotrione herbicide.
- Other hormones didn’t have any notable effects.
Importance of these newly developed formulas:
These new formulas are potential tools for protecting crops from weeds. However, there is a need for new real-time trials. These trials will help in the development of more accurate formulas.
So, these formulas will be a great addition to tools for better varieties of sweet potatoes. Isn’t it a great deal?
Agriculture Society of South Carolina supports this research.