Sweet potato farmers hear about AgCenter research at field day

By Olivia McClure, LSU AgCenter

BASTROP — The LSU AgCenter is working to develop early-maturing sweet potato varieties that would allow farmers to shave up to 20 days off the growing period and sell to the market sooner.

That and other research efforts aimed at improving farmers’ profits highlighted a field day on Aug. 17. About 115 people, including a group of about 35 small farmers from Washington Parish, attended the event at Venoy Kinnaird’s sweet potato farm north of Bastrop in Morehouse Parish.

Don La Bonte, AgCenter sweet potato breeder, said he is evaluating seven varieties that mature in about 90 days instead of the 100 to 110 days required for the Beauregard and other traditional varieties that dominate Louisiana’s 10,000 acres of sweet potatoes.