Published online: Oct 15, 2010 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI)

The Russet Burbank is still the reigning king of spuds, thanks largely to Americans' love of fries. The industry stalwart comprised 44.6 percent of total acreage this year in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Maine, North Dakota and Minnesota, according to a recent report from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The Russet Burbank's position at the top of the heap was virtually unchanged from the 44.7 percent it comprised in 2009.

The Russet Burbank traces its roots back to the original "Burbank" potato developed by Luther Burbank in Massachusetts in the 1870s. The russet cultivar used by growers today first came into usage about 1914.

"The Russet Burbank's staying power is amazing," said Jeff Harper, a farmer from Mountain Home, Idaho, who also serves as chairman of the Potato Variety Management Institute.

Few modern products have been as resilient as the Russet Burbank, Harper said.

The industry has made some significant improvements in growing and storing the variety in the past century, but "the actual genetics are exactly the same," he said.

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