Alabama Certifies Ornamental Sweet Potatoes

J. Raymond Kessler, Jr. and Guy W. Karr

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Plant Protection Section has worked out a certification process for ornamental sweet potatoes (OSP) grown in greenhouses and nurseries. The regulation also includes morning glory (Ipomoea spp.) and bindweed (Convolvulus spp.) species. This process is necessary to protect the sweet potato industry from pests, mainly the sweet potato weevil (SPW). Compliance by in- state producers and suppliers and out-of-state suppliers is mandatory; enforcement of the regulation will begin October 1, 2000. The following are some of the major points:

- Nurseries may retain OSP plants currently on hand if two inspections conducted at least 30 days apart indicate negative for pests and disease and negative trapping for SPW. If certification is not desired by a nursery or other producer then all OSP plants on hand must be destroyed immediately.

- Once certified OSP plants may be moved anywhere in Alabama if plants are tagged or labeled. Tags must state that the OSP plant was produced in a SPW-free area of (state). Tags or labels must be placed on all containers 4-inch in size and larger. Trays of plants in containers under 4 inches in size are required to have only one tag or label per tray, firmly attached. Such tags and/or labels will be provided at cost by the Department.

- Non-sweet potato producing states must provide a tag or label stating that the OSP plants were produced in a state where the SPW is not known to occur.

- Nurseries may purchase OSP plants only from a certified source. Such certification by in-state and out-of-state producers must be based on Alabama's Rules as a minimum basis for such certification.

- Once certified, OSP plants may move anywhere, including other states provided other applicable restrictions are complied with. However, once moved into any regulated area, they cannot then moved back into a non-regulated area. Alabama’s regulated areas include Baldwin, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties.

- No OSP plants produced in a regulated area can be sold or distributed outside the regulated area, and no certified production is allowed in a regulated area.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the certification process, please contact your local inspector.