Sweet potatoes are gaining popularity in the United States, where health-conscious consumers have created increased demand for the tasty, versatile food.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per capita consumption of the crop increased over 24 per cent from 1998-2008 and the value of the U.S. sweet potato crop in 2009 exceeded $400 million, reported Fresh Plaza.
Production costs for sweet potato crops are high, requiring that commercial growers optimize their production techniques and quality to keep up with consumer demand.
Because sweetpotato is vegetatively propagated, viruses and mutations can accumulate readily, leading to plant decline. To maintain the integrity of commercial seed stock, sweet potato foundation seed programs in the United States provide virus-tested foundation seed to commercial producers.