Sweet potatoes are a popular and nutritious part of Louisiana diets, particularly around the holidays. Growing sweet potatoes is different from growing Irish potatoes or vegetables that are grown from true seed.

The production cycle begins when sweet potatoes, known as seed potatoes, from the previous harvest season are planted in the spring, for the purpose of producing slips for transplanting, a news release said.

It is important that the sweet potato roots used for slip production are of good quality and free of disease, the release said.

The LSU AgCenter’s Sweet Potato Research Station offers seed potatoes grown from virus-tested planting material through its foundation seed program. Varieties Beauregard and Evangeline are available for $18.50 per 40-pound box, while Bayou Belle and Orleans are $25 per box, with small quantities available. Bellevue, Bonita, Burgundy, Heart of Gold, Jewel, Murasaki, O’Henry, Okinawan, Porto Rico and Texas Porto Rico are also available at $25 per box, but only small quantities are available.

One 40-pound box of seed roots can be expected to produce 400 to 800 slips. Since slips are planted approximately one foot apart, this is enough to plant about 400 to 800 feet of row. Commercial growers needing large quantities of seed can purchase 25-box bins of ungraded Beauregard or Evangeline roots for $412.50.

A licensing fee of $500 for up to 250 acres of production is charged for the parented varieties Bellevue, Bayou Belle, Bonita, Burgundy and Orleans. Those who will be growing less than one acre of sweet potatoes for home use are exempt from this fee.

In Livingston or Tangipahoa parishes, to place an order or for information, contact LSU AgCenter Horticulture Agent Mary Helen Ferguson at mhferguson@agcenter.lsu.edu or (225) 686-3020. Orders are due by Jan. 24.

In Ascension Parish, call (225) 621-5799.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, call (225) 389-3055.

In East Feliciana Parish, call (225) 683-3101.

In West Baton Rouge Parish, call (225) 635-361.