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Planting time

Sweetpotato grows best in a season with abundant sunshine, but sufficient water, either through rainfall or irrigation, to maintain soil moisture. In the wet season, hours of full sunlight are suboptimal, humidity in the leaf canopy can encourage fungal pathogens, and achieving sufficient soil drainage may be a problem. However, with appropriate management, sweetpotato can be grown throughout the year in many parts of the tropics.

Being a short-season crop (90-150 days in tropical lowlands), sweetpotato is well suited to multiple crop systems. The planting time is then dependent on the mix of other crops, and their demands. In much of South East Asia, sweetpotato is grown after summer paddy rice, on land with insufficient irrigation access to produce vegetables, maize or other more highly valued crops. In swidden (bush fallow) farming systems, sweetpotato is seen as relatively tolerant of low fertility, and is usually planted after the more demanding crops (yams, taro, chili and other vegetables).

Planting Method

After ridges or mounds are formed, the sweetpotato cuttings are planted by burying the lower part in the top of the ridge or mound. A hole may be made with a stick or by hand, and the soil gently pressed around the inserted cutting. The stem is usually placed at an angle. Some workers claim that cuttings oriented across the ridge yield better than those oriented along the ridge.

In ridge planting systems, ridge spacing is typically 90-120 cm, and in-row spacing is 20-30 cm (3-5 plants per meter). Generally, a higher plant density results in lower yield per plant but higher yield per hectare. Close spacing is used with short growing seasons, and wider spacing may be preferred where the market prefers larger storage roots.

For mounds, the size and spacing of the mounds depends on soil conditions. They may be 75-200 cm apart, and may be planted with several cuttings per mound.

Some farmers plant two cuttings at each station, but there is little evidence that this is advantageous. It has been reported that single cuttings produce a higher proportion of large storage roots.



Mohamed, M. 1984. Effects of bed preparation and nitrogen fertilization on growth, yield and quality of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) . Acta Hort. (ISHS) 143:311-318 22 August, 2002.


Rasco, E.T., Jr. and Amante, V. 2000. Sweetpotato in Tropical Asia. SAPPRAD-PCARRD. 230 p.


van de Fliert, E. and Braun, A. 1999. Farmer field school for integrated crop management  of sweetpotato. Field guides and technical manual. International Potato Center. Lima, Peru. 266 p.


Contributed by: Vilma Amante and Jane O'Sullivan

Land preparation

Planting material preparation

Soil management

Water management

Vine lifting

Integrated pest management


Postharvest practices

Planting in mounds in PNG (E.T. Rasco).

Planting in rows in Indonesia (E.T. Rasco).

Planting in slopes in the Philippines (V. Amante).