The Maine Potato Board and University of Maine this week announced the creation of two new potato varieties targeted at the french fry and potato chip industries.
The new varieties-the Easton and the Sebec-were developed in partnership with the University of Maine over the past several growing seasons, Tim Hobbs, director of grower relations for the potato board, said Friday.
"The Easton is the one that is the new french fry processing potato variety and it was named after the town," he said, speaking of the potato farming community in northern Aroostook County, Maine.
The variety was created at the University of Maine's Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle. Field evaluations conducted since 2004 indicate that the Easton potato will produce higher yields and lighter-colored french fries than the current standard french fry variety. While french fry processing is expected to be the primary market for that variety, it also has excellent flavor and is very good boiled, mashed or baked, according to the potato board.
The other new variety, Sebec, also was developed by the University of Maine and is expected to primarily be useful for potato chip production. Sebec tubers are round to slightly oblong with a lightly textured, buff-colored skin and white flesh. The Sebec was named after the beautiful lake in central Maine, according to the board.
"The Easton and Sebec varieties are the first to be released by the University of Maine in the past decade, and the first varieties to be released in partnership with the Maine Potato Board," said Hobbs.
He said that potatoes are bred for a multitude of characteristics, including everything from disease resistance to improved fry color.
"To get the right combination of characteristics in one variety takes a large investment in time and resources," he said. "Eventually this investment pays off."