Trio of New Russet Varieties Deemed Market-Ready

The Classic, Alpine and Clearwater get the go-ahead

Published in the February 2009 Issue Published online: Feb 28, 2009 New Products
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The Tri-State Variety Development Program of the University of Idaho, Oregon State University, Washington State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service formally released three new potato varieties on Dec. 10.

Classic Russet, Alpine Russet and Clearwater Russet are the culmination of at least 13 years of breeding and field trials throughout the western United States.

According to Jeanne Debons, executive director of the Potato Variety Management Institute, all three are unique and all have great potential in today's market.

"One of the guidelines of the Tri-state program is to not release a new variety unless it has something new to offer," explains Debons. For instance, these new varieties offer lower sugar content, more disease resistance or better taste than current popular varieties.

"If there is no improvement that provides at least one clear, specific advantage over existing varieties, it will not be released," said Debons. "The goal is always to develop a healthier potato, with as many benefits along the value chain as possible."

Classic Russet

Classic Russet, breeding clone A95109-1, is billed as the industry's answer to the Russet Norkotah.

"It's beautiful out of the ground and tastes good," says Debons, highlighting the variety's potential in the fresh market.

A 1995 cross between Blazer Russet and Summit Russet, Classic Russet is an early to medium maturing variety with a high protein content and good defect resistance. Tubers are large, with an average 9.5 ounces; eyes are shallow, intermediate in number and evenly distributed.

Total yields are mixed for the Classic Russet, varying by location and timing. But the abundance of U.S. No. 1 yields outranked the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Russet Norkotah in nearly all circumstances.

Average specific gravity (1.079) and percent solids (20.6 percent) are comparable to other varieties: higher than Russet Norkotah, similar to Russet Burbank and lower than Ranger Russet. Likewise, fry color (1.6) rated higher than Ranger Russet and lower than Russet Burbank and Russet Norkotah.

Classic Russet has a dormancy of 155 days at 42°F, 130 days at 45°F and 100 days at 48°F, 20-45 days less than other popular varieties. Glucose and sucrose levels are comparable to Russet Burbank.

It is less susceptible to growth cracks and second growth than the other varieties, but is slightly more susceptible to shatter bruise.

Protein concentrations test 22-32 percent higher than Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank and Russet Norkotah, with slightly lower glycoalkaloid concentrations.

The vines mature relatively late, but have the ability to bulk early.

"It's an exciting new potato," said Debons.

Alpine Russet

Alpine Russet, A9305-10, is primarily intended for the processing market. It has moderately high specific gravity (1.082), resistance to sugar ends and good processing quality coming out of long-term storage. It produces lighter fries out of 45°F storage than either Russet Burbank or Ranger Russet.

"It stores like a trooper," says Debons. "Processors should like it better than Russet Burbank."

Alpine Russet comes from a 1993 cross between A83043-12 and A85103-3. It is medium to late maturing with high yields. In 23 trials, total yields were 6-19 percent higher than Ranger Russet and 5-28 percent higher than Russet Burbank. U.S. No. 1 yields were 3-28 percent higher and 30-68 percent higher than Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank, respectively.

Alpine Russet tubers average 8.6 ounces with an intermediate number of shallow, predominately apical eyes. Plants have red-purple flowers with fertile pollen production.

This variety has a low susceptibility to growth cracks, secondary growth and hollow heart. In early harvest trials it exhibited a susceptibility to net necrosis/vascular discoloration, but the defect was not observed in full-season trials. A full growing season is recommended.

Alpine Russet has a significantly lower glycoalkaloid (2.5 mg/100g) and reducing sugar (.05 percent FWB) concentration than either Russet Burbank or Ranger Russet, with higher concentrations of sucrose (.28% FWB) and protein (5.9% DWB). It has a 22.9 mg/100g Vitamin C content, similar to Russet Burbank and less than Ranger Russet.

Its dormancy length averages 185 days at 42°F, 165 days at 45°F and 140 days at 48°F-comparable to Russet Burbank.

Susceptibility to dry rot is slightly greater than that for Burbank Russet. Mottling was mild at 42°F and mild to none at 45°F and 48°F.

Clearwater Russet

Clearwater Russet, AOA95154-1, is the result of a 1995 cross between Bannock Russet and A89152-4. It is medium to late maturing. Clearwater Russet has an attractive tuber with excellent fry color out of storage, making it ideal for both the processing and fresh markets. It is noted for its higher-than-normal protein content (6.5 percent DWB).

"This is another potato that will be known for its superior taste," says Debons.

Clearwater Russet is a medium-sized potato with oblong to long, medium thick tubers averaging 7.3 ounces. It has an intermediate number of shallow, evenly distributed eyes.

Yields in 26 trials averaged 92-97% of Ranger Russet and 88-105 percent of Russet Burbank. U.S. No. 1 yields came in at 105-111% of Ranger Russet in Idaho and Oregon, but only 86% in Washington. U.S. No. 1 yields were 20-51% higher than Russet Burbank, depending on the area, with the greatest advantage in Oregon.

Its specific gravity averages 1.088-comparable to Ranger Russet and slightly higher than Russet Burbank. Fry color out of 45°F is lighter than either at 0.6.

Clearwater Russet rates high in resistance to defects. It is less susceptible to growth cracks and secondary growth than either Russet Burbank or Ranger Russet; it also rates well for blackspot bruise and hollow heart.

Its dormancy is relatively short: 110 days at 42°F, 90 days at 45°F and 85 days at 48°F-around 60 days less than Russet Burbank.

Clearwater Russet contains less glycoalkaloids (1.6 mg/100g) and reducing sugars (.06) than Russet Burbank or Ranger Russet. Protein concentrations are 14-38 percent greater.

Clearwater Russet is a medium-late maturing variety with red-purple flowers and male-fertile pollen. It has resistance to Verticillium and common scab and is more resistant to tuber late blight infections than Russet Burbank.



The following are main areas of focus for the Potato Variety Management Institute.

  • Exert grower control over varieties developed through grower supported research
  • Work with end-users to increase adoption of new varieties in processing, grocery, and restaurant trades
  • Use market research to focus variety development goals
  • Manage distribution and use of varieties around the world
  • Return royalties directly to Tri-State potato research programs