Potato breeder Rich Novy says growers shouldn't read too much into the fact that a promising new variety he helped develop, Palisade Russet, hasn't made it into many fields yet.
Palisade-billed upon its release last December as a replacement for the late blight-resistant variety Defender-resists foliar and tuber late blight, verticillium wilt, black dot and pink rot and has moderate resistance to net necrosis, PVY and early blight. It's also high-yielding and produces fries without so-called sugar ends, dark areas in french fries caused by higher sugar concentrations in one end of the tuber than the other.
Finding seed has been the challenge for growers interested in those attributes.
Novy, with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, Idaho, explained specific gravity-a measure of starch content-tends to be too high with Palisade for production in the Pacific Northwest, resulting in tough fries. For that reason, initial plans were to use the variety only as parental material in breeding for late blight resistance.
After summarizing data for Palisade's release as germplasm, Novy said he and other scientists within the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program realized its attributes could prove useful in growing areas prone to inherently low specific gravity and in organic production. The Potato Variety Management Institute agreed to promote the variety and pay fees for obtaining variety protection. Due to the late change in release plans, they were unable to generate the typical seed supply associated with a variety release.
PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons said Palisade has also generated interest outside of the U.S.
Its name acknowledges both its ability to fence out disease and the Palisades Reservoir in Eastern Idaho.
Small quantities of breeder seed were grown last season in Tetonia for trials being conducted throughout the country, and Palisade mini-tubers are being grown this year in greenhouses. Those mini-tubers will be available next year for first field generation planting.
"We're looking three to four years before you see it more commercially available," Debons said.
Dan Hargraves, executive director of Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative, sees great potential for the processing industry in the variety's low incidence of sugar ends. In trials, less than 10 percent of Palisade spuds had sugar ends, while Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank often had sugar end percentages in the 40s. The U.S. No. 1 yield of Palisade is also 3 percent higher than Ranger and 31 percent higher than Burbank.
Palisade could be especially well suited to conditions in Wisconsin, where Russet grower Dennis Bula said the variety is the subject of a trial in the state's central region. He often experiments with new varieties and believes Palisade looks good on paper with its high gravity and resistance to late blight.
But he recalled planting Defender shortly after its release. He had trouble finding buyers for the potatoes.
"There's a lot of varieties that grow well. Lots of them come down the road, and they fall apart when they try to meet the companies' standards," Bula said. "The companies really are the ones who decide if a variety is good or not."
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press