By monitoring grower plant beds over four years, this project’s virology team surveyed viruses present in the Australian industry and studied how they varied geographically and across the season. The team assessed production of planting material and problems that arose during the seasons, such as plant bed breakdown.

Their research demonstrated that sprout multiplication could be improved by as much as 25 per cent by:

  • Constructing higher, well-drained plant beds.
  • Only covering bedding roots with 3-5cm of soil.
  • Erring on the side of under-watering until sprouts have emerged.
  • Keeping soil temperatures between 17-26°C in spring by careful use of plastic covers.

In addition to its research work, during the course of the project the researchers were involved in 24 industry field days and workshops to help communicate project activities and findings to growers. The project also developed collaborative relationships with sweetpotato researchers at several Australian universities, neighbouring Pacific countries, and particularly scientists from Louisiana State University in the US. The latter were involved in several reciprocal visits over the project’s four years.

The project, funded by Hort Innovation using a strategic levy investment, produced a wide range of fact sheets and guides for sweetpotato growers, along with a final report, literature review and other valuable documentation. You can access all these resources on the Australian Sweetpotato Growers website.