COULD NEW VARIETY UPSET COMPETITIVE REGIONS?

Published online: Oct 10, 2011 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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Will a newly discovered russet potato variety make the Red River Valley a yield contender with the Pacific Northwest?

Carl Hoverson of Larimore, N.D., thinks so, and-as one of the key growers for the Simplot-processed potato plant in Grand Forks, N.D.-he's one of the folks who should know best.

Hoverson Farms hosts some of the test plots that include trials by Dr. Asunta "Susie" Thompson, a potato breeder at North Dakota State University in Fargo. This year, one of Thompson's new crosses, a variety called 4405-1 Russet had an "incredible" yield of 777 hundredweights per acre (almost 100 tons/hectare).

Hoverson was so impressed with it that he put out his own press release about it.

"There were about nine very nice, uniformly-shaped (potatoes under each hill) with light russeting tubers under each plant," Hoverson says.

Each of the potatoes weighed about a pound, and were perfectly shaped.

The "incredible" news was that the clone was planted later than normal, on May 24. Still, it bulked up to the 777 per cwt per acre by the harvest date of Sept. 17. Other Russet Burbank varieties in the same row were yielding 300 bags.

Hoverson says the selection has to go through many tests for processing quality, including solids, but the signs look good. Both parents have good processing quality and the potato "felt like a Shepody," he says.

"It typically takes 400 (per cwt) of potatoes per acre on irrigation in North Dakota and Minnesota to cover input costs, so this would be great news for our potato growers," Hoverson says.

The region is closer to eastern food markets and so has a transportation advantage to the PNW producers, but this could be something special, he says.

"If this variety does all of the qualities the processing industry wants" it will "rival the major potato producing area of the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho."

SOURCE: Agweek

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