EVALUATING SWEETPOTATO SEEDLINGS POPULATION FOR NUMBER OF ROOT YIELD POTENTIAL, ROOT FLESH COLOUR VARIABILITY AND CANOPY ARCHITECTURE
A field study was conducted at the western farm of National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike,
Umuahia, Abia State in the rainforest of Southeast Nigeria to evaluate the newly developed sweetpotato
seedlings for storage root yield potential, determine the storage root fleshed colour variation and canopy
architecture of the sweetpotato seedlings. Three thousand seeds from both controlled and diallel mating were
collected from 12 families and raised in poly-bags that measured 4 x 6cm in size. The seedlings were later
transplanted to the field at six leaf stage (that is two months after planting) in polybags at planting distance of 30
x100cm for field evaluation. The following data were collected at harvest based on single plant bases: presence of
storage roots, number of storage roots per plant, flesh colour of storage roots and vine length of each plant.
Results obtained indicated that seedlings with high number of large storage roots per plant may be selected as
having high storage root yield potential. Sweetpotato parents used as females intend to influence their progenies
in certain morphological attributes in terms of flesh root colour characteristics and seedlings discriminated into
types of storage root flesh colours could be regarded as varieties and as such could be put into different domestic
and industrial utilization, while the sweetpotato canopy structure that differentiated the seedlings into
erect/bushy types and spreading types could be incorporated into different farming systems of the people.