sweet potatoes as forage

YankeePerm YankeePerm at aol.com
Sun Jan 4 12:15:03 EST 1998


In a message dated 1/4/98 6:17:28 AM, rvraders at tpgi.com.au wrote:

<< We've found they

love well drained soils and doubt they would persist in really wet areas

with foraging as no tubers would be developed (I think they would rot). 

But it's worth a small cautious trial, I suppose.  They certainly persist

in damp areas as vines when there's no grazing.>>

Well, one grows slips by putting the tuber in water.  So, like their closely
related cousins, they do grow in wet areas.  I agree that tuber formation is
unlikely.   

I am sure that they would be favored over all other vegetation except maybe
the maypop (Passiflora incarnata) which seems to be real yummy to the steer in
there now.  

We do have the pasture divided for short rotations.  Moreover, all pasture
plants need to be able to tolerate wet to flooded conditions as well as
drought.  In any case, since we have all these little pencil-sized to pinky
sized roots, it will be an interesting experiment.  I've always grown sweet
potato through mulch so how it competes with grass is another issue.  At a
minimum, the plant will expend the food stored in the roots to make forage and
we will get that much back.  It would be easier to feed the undersized roots
to the steer, admitedly my first impulse, but then I was thinking about water
spinanch and also how most of our pasture plants are slow growing.  

As we discuss this I get another thought, for Next year, which is to use sweet
potato as a nurse crop for legumes.  The pasure was a real mess when we got
here and we still haven't cut half of it even once.  There is so much dead
organic matter when one mows that I've taken to raking it into piles to rot or
not, depending upon when I want them for mulch or litter (and can get out
there to pick them up as it gets pretty slick>)  When a pile is moved, there
is a bare spot with a bit of compost on it.  This little bit makes a big
difference and it would be a good time to get some legumes and other forage
plants going.  (We are very short on legumes in the pasture--a few scarce
species of annuals, no prennials.)  This would be a good time to add the sweet
potato slips, since they would have little competition in getting going.  I
have one spot I can try this year.

Thanks for your input.  By the way, sweet potato does grow wild in Hawaii.
I've seen it there in abandoned farmland along with many other crops, wild
chickens, and feral pigs.  Apparently the pigs, even, do not erradicate. Of
course the pigs are hunted pretty heavily by the Hawaiians.  So it does hold
its own in a non-ruminant environment, at least.

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