Not-so-sweet potato resists pests and disease

Known as a boniato, or tropical sweet potato, Liberty has a dark red skin and light yellow, dry flesh with a bland flavour. Boniato potatoes originated in the tropical Americas and are grown in south Florida, US. They can be served fried, mashed or in soup.

“We developed Liberty because other boniato varieties are susceptible to damage by nematodes (microscopic parasitic worms),” said John Mueller, plant pathologist and director of Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Centre in Blackville, according to a Clemson statement.

Mueller worked with a team of scientists from the US Vegetable Lab led by entomologist Mike Jackson.

The Liberty potato is highly resistant to nematodes and moderately resistant to insect pests and fusarium wilt, a fungal disease.

Liberty potatoes have good baking quality, store well and do not darken after peeling as most boniato potatoes do. Home gardeners as well as commercial producers and organic growers can grow the Liberty potato, scientists said.

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