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How sweet it is - the science of sweetpotatoNews release | 18 April, 2011

The humble sweetpotato is getting a makeover, with Queensland scientists researching varieties with new colours, tastes and shapes tailored for Queensland growers and consumers alike.

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) research horticulturist Russell McCrystal said this work would hopefully encourage greater consumption of this versatile vegetable.

"The sweetpotatoes we are developing are visually exciting with a mix of purple, red, orange and white skin and flesh," Mr McCrystal said.

"You can buy the purple and white varieties at the supermarket at the moment, but they make up a very small percentage of the market and are only available for a short period each year.

"The new varieties we're working on are based on these current varieties. They will be of a more consistent shape and will be available year round.

"Not only will these sweetpotatoes give a new look to your dish, they'll also provide a range of health benefits.

"The new pigments will offer a better range of nutrients, including higher levels of anthocyanins, which have been linked to fighting cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections.

"The traditional Beauregard sweetpotato with orange skin and flesh makes up 95% of production in Australia. Our varieties will cater for gaps in the traditional market with their different flavours for a variety of tastes."

Mr McCrystal said DEEDI was also researching ways to develop a fatter and more consistent vegetable that would produce less waste in the kitchen.

"These sweetpotatoes will be more robust and less susceptible to viruses and soil insects, which in turn will provide consumers with a cleaner and greener product," he said.

"Ten years ago the industry was valued at $7 million and it has now grown to $60 million.

"This is because we are now able to provide good quality sweetpotatoes 12 months of the year.

"Within the next two years consumers can expect to see greater quantities of the new sweetpotatoes available for purchase."


Media contact: Dusk Johnston, 3255 4463


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Good thing we're getting more varieties, but wonder why we can't just import existing varieties from overseas with similar climate though ~

Hooray! I love the white ones, the purple ones and best of all, the white ones with the purple ring. The orange commercial ones are just not that delicious.


But I have found the non-commercial ones are more susceptible to the weevil thing, most of the tubers are weevil-infested. Hoping the lot I planted into a prepared bed will do better, the ones I used as ground-cover produced some tubers but most were not edible. But then I didn't grow them for the tubers really.


Years ago my Dad planted a yellow-fleshed selection from Hawkesbury Ag College but I have never seen it up here. I remember them as really sweet and driesh (not sloppy like the purple ones), they must be a more cold-tolerant variety than the ones we grow here.

Very interesting.

My favourite is the purple skinned ones with the white centre - can't get enough baked or steamed. I like the orange commonly available one the least but my daughter is very fond of it.



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