OLD SERA5: Sweet Potato Collaborators Conference

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

OLD SERA5: Sweet Potato Collaborators Conference

Duration: 10/01/2015 to 09/30/2020

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification


This group has met annually since 1939 to exchange information about all aspects of sweetpotato production and post-harvest research and extension. The earlier meetings were primarily research-based, but in recent years, many extension specialists, graduate students, and crop consultants have participated. The Collaborators Group annually coordinates regional trials of promising sweetpotato varieties being developed by participating geneticists, reviews the results of those regional trials, and agrees on germplasm lines to be entered and evaluated the following year. Sub-groups (ie weed science, etc) within the Colla borators Group also conduct collaborative studies each year.

Statement of Issues and Justification:

Sweetpotatoes are the major horticultural crop in several southern states and they face the usual challenges of production (varieties, best management practices, crop protection, pest management, mechanization, economics) and post-harvest (new products, marketing, value-added). There is no other forum, regionally, nationally, and internationally that focuses exclusively on sweetpotato research and extension activities. The expected benefits and impacts are continuing scientific synergy and rapid dissemination of information about emerging technologies. Stakeholders (customers) are the sweetpotato producers and shippers as well as the consumers that they serve and they recognized the importance of this collaboration and committee that has provided them research based information in which their industry has been built, and they continually depend on.


  1. The Collaborators Group objective is the open sharing of research based information among a diverse community of sweetpotato scientists, extension specialists, and industry representatives addressing plant breeding, molecular biology, cultural practices, food science, pathology, entomology, physiology, and marketing. Annual publications include the results of the uniform regional germplasm trials and abstracts associated with presentations at the annual meeting.

Procedures and Activities

The objective is met through the annual meeting of the Collaborators Group (usually in conjunction with the Southern Region ASHS and SAAS meetings); however, at regular intervals the Collaborators Group will hold their meeting concurrently with the U.S. Sweet Potato Council, a national sweet potato grower and processing association. The website is maintained by Arthur Villordon at Louisiana State University. The secretary is Steven Myers at Mississippi State University. Various sub-groups of the Collaborators have successfully united to seek funding for various aspects of the sweetpotato industry including support for germplasm collection trips and regional sweetpotato IPM activities. The previous project saw significant grant activity within the group. A $2 million grant in sweetpotato production was awarded among several southeastern Universities and concluded in 2010. A $2.8 million Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grant from USDA was funded during the previous project and included Louisiana State University AgCenter, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, and University of California-Davis extension. The Collaborators Group was an integral component and the grant was concluded in 2013. Another SCRI application was submitted by members of the Collaborators Group in 2014 and is pending. These efforts demonstrate a strong integration of research and extension activities among participants.

As stated above, the Collaborators Group is diverse and extends beyond the traditional research and extension faculty at land grant and non-land grant universities in states that produce sweetpotatoes. The private sector, international participants, graduate students, and other interested parties participate. Annual meetings usually range from 50 to 70 attendees and include states outside the southern region as well as several 1890 universities.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Developing multistate proposals that involve both extension and research activities and securing grants that will support U.S. sweetpotato growers.
  • Technology transfer from funded proposals will be through extension publications, presentations, referred publications etc
  • Annual meeting of extension and research faculty from land grant and non-land grant universities across the U.S. to share research results to be used in extension programs to educate growers
  • Collaborate with growers and members of state sweetpotato grower associations and the US Sweet Potato Council to insure research and extension activities are relevant.
  • All proposals, where appropriate, that are submitted from SERA005 to funding agencies will have stakeholder involvement and surveys/questionnaires that will provide evaluation for feedback on how the projects are meeting their needs and expectations, and for guidance of future direction.
  • The proceedings of the annual meeting will be published on the Sweetpotato Collaborators web site for use by sweetpotato faculty and industry including growers across the U.S.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan


Offices consist of a chair (currently Dr. Larry Adams, USDA, Stoneville, MS) and a secretary-treasurer (currently Dr. Steven Myers, Mississippi State University). The Administrative advisor is Dr. David Monks (NC Agricultural Research Service, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, NC State University) and Joe Zublena (NC Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, NC State University).

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, USDA-ARS/South Carolina
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