US: New Northwest spuds offer strong disease resistance

Jeanne Debons, executive director of the Potato Variety Management Institute, with potato varieties under her organization’s management at the recent University of Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Idaho. PVMI is releasing two new varieties — Castle Russet and Echo Russet.Officials representing the Idaho, Oregon and Washington potato breeding programs say they’re releasing a pair of new russet varieties that should help position the industry to cope with more stringent regulations on soil fumigants. The new Tri-State Potato Breeding Program varieties — Castle Russet and high-yielding Echo Russet — are billed as medium- to late-maturing potatoes appropriate for use in both the fresh market and processing. Testing has shown they also have good culinary qualities and cold sweetening resistance, so they fry with a light color even after months in storage. The Potato Variety Management Institute decided to release them in December, said PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons. She said a limited number of mini-tubers — those grown from tissue cultures — are available to interested seed growers. Debons said Echo and Castle are resistant to potato mop-top virus, vectored by the hard-to-control powdery scab fungus. As regulators place increasing restrictions on fumigants, mop-top is becoming more prevalent. Capital Press report