Regeneration guidelines for sweet potato

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The information on this page was extracted from:
Rossel G., Espinoza C., Javier M. and Tay D. 2008. Regeneration guidelines: sweet potato.
In: Dulloo M.E., Thormann I., Jorge M.A. and Hanson J., editors. Crop specific regeneration guidelines [CD-ROM]. CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resource Programme, Rome, Italy. 9 pp.

Before reading the regeneration details for this crop, read the general introduction that gives general guidelines to follow by clicking here.


Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is a herbaceous, perennial plant belonging to the Convolvulaceae family. It has a vine system that expands rapidly and horizontally along the ground.
Although its growth habit is mainly prostrate, it varies from erect and semi-erect to spreading. Sweet potato is the world’s seventh most important food crop, after wheat, rice, maize, potato, barley and cassava. More than 133 million tonnes of sweet potato are produced globally per year, more than 95% in developing countries ( The most common names for this plant in Latin America are batata, camote, boniato, batata doce, apichu and kumara.
Sweet potato was probably domesticated more than 5000 years ago, in either South America or Central America, with recent evidence suggesting the latter (Rossel et al 2001). The CIP genebank contains 6855 accessions of Ipomoea batatas (4616 landraces and 2239 improved cultivars and breeding materials) and 1171 accessions of 67other Ipomoea species. The former are mainly conserved vegetatively in pots in greenhouses or screenhouses or under in vitro culture. Wild, related species and 2556 landrace accessions are conserved as seeds in cold chambers.

Wild sweet potato plant, Ipomoea purpurea (L.) Roth.
(photo: Victor Fernandez/CIP)

Within a sweet potato collection, a wide variation is generally observed in the flowering habits of different accessions. Under normal sowing conditions, some cultivars do not flower. Several techniques have been developed to promote sweet potato flowering, including short photoperiod, grafting, trellises etc. This guide describes the procedures for regeneration of seed collections of Ipomoea batatas and other wild relatives.

A wide range of additional information about sweet potato can be found at the Sweetpotato Knowledge Portal.

Choice of environment and planting season

Climatic conditions

Planting season

Preparation for regeneration

When to regenerate

Seed scarification and germination

Seed germination is difficult and requires scarification by mechanical abrasion or chemical treatment.

Sweet potato seedling transplanted into 20-cm pot.
(photo: Victor Fernandez/CIP)

Preparation of planting material

Preparation of rootstocks


Method of regeneration

Sweet potato scion grafted onto rootstock from Ipomoea nil cv. Kidachi Asagao. (photo: Vilma Hualla/CIP)

Planting layout, density and distance

Grafting onto rootstocks with profuse flowering

Flowering induction

Use black plastic sheet to create short-day conditions to induce flowering. (photo: Vilma Hualla/CIP)

Flowering and fruit set are highest at temperatures of 20–25°C and a relative humidity above 75%.



Open pollination

Crop management

Evaluation of fertilization and seed formation




Common pests and diseases

Pest and disease control


Harvesting sweet potato seed.
(photo: Victor Fernandez/CIP)

The fruit of sweet potato is a capsule, more or less spherical with a terminal tip, and can be pubescent or glabrous. Each capsule contains one to four seeds that are slightly flattened on one side and convex on the other. Seeds are brown to black in colour and have a diameter of about 3 mm.

Post-harvest management

Seed cleaning

Seed drying

Method 1 uses a silica gel desiccant under temperature-controlled conditions for 14 days to reduce seed moisture content to 7–10%.

Method 2 uses a drying chamber.

Seed packaging

Seed storage

Monitoring accession identity

Documentation of information during regeneration

Collect the following information during regeneration:

References and further reading

Ahn PM. 1993. Tropical Soils and Fertilizer Use. Intermediate Tropical Agriculture Series.
Longman Scientific and Technical Ltd, UK.

Bioversity International, CIP. 2010. Key access and utilization descriptors for sweet potato genetic resources. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy;  International Potato Centre (CIP), Lima, Peru. Available here.

CIP. 1999. Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) Germplasm Management Training Manual. Huaman Z, editor. CIP, Lima, Peru.

CIP, AVRDC, IBPGR. 1991. Sweet Potato: Descriptors for Sweet potato. Huaman Z, editor. IBPGR, Rome, Italy.

Huaman Z. 1987. Current status on maintenance of sweetpotato genetic resources at CIP. In: Exploration, maintenance and utilization of sweetpotato genetic resources. Report of the First Sweetpotato Planning Conference 1987. CIP, Lima, Peru. pp. 101–120.

Rossel G, Kriegner A, Zhang DP. 2001. From Latin America to Oceania: The historic dispersal of sweet potato re-examined using AFLP. CIP Program Report 1999–2000. CIP, Lima, Peru. pp. 315–321.

Sweetpotato Knowledge Portal [online]. Available from: Date accessed: 18 July 2011. The portal is supported by the International Potato Centre, CIP, and by the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA).


These guidelines have been peer reviewed by K. Abraham, Head of Crop Improvement Division, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI), India and Algerico Mariscal, Director, PhilRootcrops, Philippines.

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.