Sweet potato is a tuberous crop that gives sweet tasting tubers as its name indicates. Its scientific name is Ipomoea batatas. In Kerala it is known in the names of Madhura kizhangu, Chakkara Valli etc. It is a rich source of Vitamin-A, C and digestive fiber. It requires warm humid tropical climate to grow.
Sweet potato can be grown as rainfed and irrigated crop. Rainfed crop can be planted during June-July and September –October. Irrigated crop is planted in October-November and January- February.
Sweet potato is propagated by vine cuttings. To obtain vine cuttings, selected tubers are planted and grown in nursery. Vines of 20-25cm length can be planted at a spacing of 15 to 20 cm on ridges, 15x15cm on beds and mounds. Plant the vine cuttings with the middle portion buried in the soil and the two cut ends exposed. Keep the soil always moist for early sprouting. Apply a layer of organic manure and incorporate with soil before planting.
Some fertilizers may be applied one month after planting for better formation of tubers, if the soil is poor in nutrients. Regular weeding and earthing up are also needed for the crop. For irrigated crop, watering to keep the soil moist is inevitable.
Generally the crop can be harvested 4-5 months after planting. When the leaves become yellow in color the crop can be harvested.