Newsletter Publisher Will Not Differentiate Russets

Published online: Oct 04, 2005
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North American Potato Market Newsletter Publisher Bruce Huffaker said in last Friday's edition that he will no longer make a distinction between the Russet Burbank and the Russet Norkotah varieties in his marketing reports.

Huffaker gave no reason for the decision. It was mentioned as he starts reporting harvesting and sales of the 2005 crop. It is suspected that the difficulty of keeping the two varieties differentiated during marketing and reporting has led to the announcement.

The matter has been a major point of contention in Idaho for many years as Idaho's Famous potato is the Russet Burbank variety. The Russet Norkotah, which came out of a breeding program at North Dakota State University in the 1980s, has several characteristics that make it different from a Russet Burbank.

One of the differences, carefully pointed out by fresh growers of the Russet Burbank, is taste. Burbank growers say the Norkotah fails to satisfy the public on taste tests, especially after long storage.

Many growers have moved to the Norkotah because it has a very consistent smooth exterior and does not have the defects of the Burbank. Growers get a higher pack-out of No. 1 potatoes, which pay more than the lower No. 1 grading of the Burbank.

There are other differences, one of which is the fact it doesn't establish a vine canopy like the Burbank which can lead to certain pest challenges.