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Photo: Geneticist Janice Bohac and technician John Fender compare chips made from USDA sweetpotato breeding lines. Link to photo information

Read: more details in Agricultural Research.

New Sweetpotatoes Make Great Chips, Fries

By Linda McElreath
May 17, 2001

New sweetpotatoes now being developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists have less sugar and soak up less oil than traditional varieties, making the new sweetpotatoes perfect for great-tasting and nutritious chips and french fries.

For the past eight years, ARS scientists Janice Bohac and Mike Jackson at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory at Charleston, S.C., and cooperators at Clemson University have used conventional breeding and selection methods to develop medium light-orange, yellow, or cream-colored sweetpotato breeding lines for new uses.Bohac has been testing them in the small-scale chip-making kitchen in her laboratory.

Unlike popular sweet, orange-fleshed U.S. varieties, the new sweetpotatoes resemble those eaten in the tropics and favored by U.S. consumers from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and South America.

The new sweetpotato chips and fries soak up less oil because they have a higher percentage of dry matter, meaning they’re more dense than traditional varieties. So the new chips and fries are more crispy and contain less fat.

The orange or yellow sweetpotato chips and fries contain lots of nutrients--for example, high levels of beta-carotene. Just one medium-sized sweetpotato provides more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin A, as well as high levels of fiber, vitamin C and folic acid.

These new sweetpotatoes grow and produce well in the South and require fewer pesticides because they’re resistant to key sweetpotato pests.

Bohac is looking for a commercial cooperator to produce and test the fries on a larger scale. If these new products catch on, they could open up new markets for U.S. farmers and new nutritious foods for consumers.

For more details, see the May 2001 issue of Agricultural Research.

ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Janice R. Bohac, ARS U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, S.C., phone (843) 556-0840, fax (843) 763-7013,