Michigan Upper Peninsula Variety Trial Results

Small-scale field trials of 36 different potato varieties were planted in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, allowing growers to survey results and choose pr

Published online: Dec 08, 2017 Articles, Seed Potatoes
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Source: Michigan State University Extension

Michigan State University Extension conducts multi-location field trials every year to evaluate new potato varieties. The Upper Peninsula location for trials was in Cornell, Mich., at TJJ Farms, operated by Tony and Joe VanDamme. This year, 36 different varieties of red, russet and yellow tuber types were planted and compared to industry standard varieties. In the field trial, every variety was sized according to the tuber type, evaluated for yield and quality, and rated for vine vigor and maturity.

The potato trial was planted June 2, 2017, vine-killed Sept. 9, and harvested Oct. 5. The region had a slightly cooler season compared to previous years with a growing degree-day accumulation of 2,359 base 40 (planting to vine kill). Regional rainfall was much greater than normal, reaching 28 inches of water during the growing season, an increase of 6 inches compared to the last five years.

The wet spring caused some drowned-out areas in fields, killing off potato plants. A spike in temperature in late September to early October did cause a slowdown in harvest. Despite the challenging season, potato growers in the region still had a successful year.

From the 36 different varieties that were tested, the top seven will be highlighted here: W8405-1R and AF4831-2R are red-skinned varieties. W8405-1R yielded 445 hundredweight per acre of U.S. No. 1, with 87 percent A and 6 percent B size tubers. AF4831-2R yielded 452 hundredweight per acre No. 1, with 90 percent A and 7 percent B size tubers. Both red varieties had specific gravities and sizing that made them good varieties for table use. W8405-1R had 30 percent vascular discoloration and AF4831-2R had 10 percent in the potatoes sampled in the Upper Peninsula trials.

The top yellow varieties were Wega and Soraya, which yielded 471 and 458 hundredweight per acre No.1, respectively. Specific gravities on these varieties were in an acceptable range for table use. It should be noted that Soraya also performed well in the 2016 trial.

The top three russet varieties were CW08221-5RU, ND50032-4RUS and Reveille Russet, yielding 359, 348 and 331 hundredweight per acre of No. 1, respectively. Specific gravity for Reveille was 1.084; CW08221-5RUS was 1.072; and ND50032-4RUS was 1.089. CW08221-5RUS had a large amount of pick-outs, including 40 percent of potatoes with hollow heart.

Variety trials are used as a stepping stone for growers by informing them about variety performance in their local area. They can then use this information in their decision-making process when choosing varieties for larger-scale production. By pinpointing successful varieties within a growing region, the industry is able to move toward commercial production while maintaining quality and yield. Some of the top varieties noted here will go on to a larger-scale planting next growing season.

For further questions and inquires, email atkinmon@anr.msu.edu.