Sweet Potato Farming Guide:
Introduction of Sweet Potato: – Generally, sweet potato crop is grown for its sweet root tubers and mainly used as food after steaming, or boiling, frying or baking. Sweet potato is cultivated as starchy food crop in the tropical and subtropical frost free climatic regions. Due its high calorie content, sweet potato is being used as livestock feed. Sweet potato is popularly known as “Sakharkanda” in India. Sweet potato is an important source of starch, glucose, industrial alcohol and sugar syrup. Sweet potato is native to tropical America and belongs to the family of “Convolvulaceae” and genus of “Ipomoea”.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potato:- Following are some of the health benefits of Sweet Potato.
- Sweet potato is a source of excellent fiber
- Sweet potato is a source of vitamins ‘B6’, ‘E’ and ‘C’
- Sweet potato is good for heart
- Sweet potato helps in controlling blood sugar due low glycemic index
- Sweet potato helps in relieving stress
- Sweet potato has strong Immunity and anti-inflammatory properties
- Sweet potato is good for digestion
- Sweet potato helps in preventing cancer.
Note: Patients with Kidney problems should avoid eating sweet potato as it may form kidney stones.
Local names for Sweet Potato in India:- Shakarkand (Hindi), Chilakada Dumpa, Moram Gadda (Telugu), Sarkaraivalli Kizanku(Tamil), Genasu (Kannada),Ratala (Marathi), Kandamula (Oriya), Mathura Kizhangu (Malayalam), Shakkaria (Gujarati), Shakkar (Punjabi), Rang Aloo (Bengali).
Main Sweet Potato Production Sates of India:- Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Varieties of Sweet Potato in India:- Generally, sweet potato cultivars/varieties differ in size, shape, colour of leaves, tubers & nature of tuber flesh. There are many locally grown varieties are available but we are providing here only important high yielding hybrid varieties below.
- Varsha, Sree Nandini, Sree Vardhini, Sree Ratna, Cross-4, Kalmegh, Rajendra Shakarkand-5, Sree Varun, Sree Arun, Sree Bhadra, Konkan Ashwini, Pusa Safed, Pusa Sunheri.
Climate Required for Sweet Potato Farming:- Sweet potatoes are grown in warm tropical and subtropical frost free regions with ideal temperature of 21°C to 26°C. It requires well and evenly distributed rainfall of 75 to 150 cm for optimum production. Heavy rainfall will damage the crop and does not allow proper growth as aids in excessive vegetative tuber growth. This crop requires plenty of sunshine at least for 5 months. It can tolerate drought conditions but not the water stagnation. Low temperatures below 10°C and frost conditions will check the growth of the tubers. This crop can be grown areas up to 2200 meters above the mean sea level (m.s.l).
Soil Requirement for Sweet Potato Farming:- Sweet potato cultivation requires a well-drained sandy loam soil rich in humus with clay (loose) sub soil for best tuber production. If the soil pH is less than 5.3, liming the soil is required. In case of heavy soils, tuber size will be less. The ideal pH range of soil should be 5.7 to 6.7 for best yield of the tubers
Propagation in Sweet Potato Farming:- Tubers clips or vine cuttings are the common methods of the propagation in sweet potato cultivation.
Planting, Spacing and Seed Rate in Sweet Potato Farming:- About 40 thousand to 50 thousand vine cuttings can be accommodated in one hectare of land. Sweet potato vine cuttings should be planted during June to July for rainfed conditions. Under irrigated conditions, planting should be done during Oct to Nov in uplands & during Jan to Feb in low lands for summer crop cultivation. Make the ridges of 25 to 30 cm height at 60 cm apart after giving couple of ploughings in the main field. Vine cuttings with the length of 20 to 30 cm should be buried horizontally with 2 to 3 nodes below the soil by leaving the remaining portion of the cutting above the soil.
Manures and Fertilizers in Sweet Potato Farming:- As part of the land preparation, supplement the well rotten farm yard manure of 25 tonnes in the soil. In organic fertilizers of N: P: K should be applied in the ratio of 60:60:120 kg/ha. Full doses ‘P’, ‘K’ and 1/2 dose of ‘N’ should be applied at the time of planting. Apply remaining 1/2 dose of ‘N’ after 1 month of the planting sweet potatoes.
Irrigation in Sweet Potato Farming:- Avoid excessive irrigation as it checks the yield by allowing more vegetative growth. In kharif season, sweet potato crop requires less irrigation. During rabi and hot dry seasons, 10-12 irrigations are required at an interval of 8 to 10 days for high production. However, make sure to have sufficient moisture in the soil after 40 to 45 days of planting. Frequency of irrigations depends on the soil moisture holding capacity and climatic conditions of the area.
Weed Control in Sweet Potato Farming:- As part of the Inter cultural practices, weed control should be taken care especially in the initial days. Earthing up should be followed after 2 weeks to 1month of planting to result in good yield. Once vines are grown, weeds are automatically suppressed.
Harvesting in Sweet Potato Farming:- The period of sweet potato maturity ranges between 3 months to 5 months based on the variety grown. In general this crop will be ready harvesting 4 months. This crop will be ready for harvesting when leaves turn yellow in colour. Use pick-axe or fork to dig out the tuber from the soil.
Yield in Sweet Potato Farming:- Yield depends on the soil type, variety and climatic conditions along with good farm management practices. In sweet potato farming, 6 to 10 tonnes/ha for rainfed crop & 12 to15 tonnes/ha under average management can be obtained.
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