Canada: Varieties showing promise head to potato trials, buyers

More than 100 separate bushel baskets of potatoes were lined up on the grass at the Crop Diversification Centre South during the Centre’s annual field day held August 24 in Canada’s Alberta province. “Breeding is a long-term process which takes about 10 to 12 years to get to the market,” said Benoit Bizimungu, chief potato breeder with Agriculture Canada. “We start every single cycle with a really huge amount of different potato varieties…. We screen from 100,000 potential varieties every year. It’s a very long-term process but also a complex one. From that 100,000 we start every year, the expectation is to get hopefully one or two varieties.” Bizimungu said the potatoes on display at the field day are essentially an adaptation trial showing varieties selected at the research stage. The next step is to see how they adapt to different environments. “It’s the selection process that makes the difference,” said Alberta Agriculture potato research specialist Michele Konschuh. More