Survival test: Gardeners in Newfoundland enlisted to put Chilean potato varieties through the hoops

Assistant manager Jackson McLean holds four red smile potato seeds in E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. in downtown St. John’s. The store is giving away red smile potato seeds to its customers to test.E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. in St Johns Newfoundland and Phytocultures Ltd. based in Prince Edward Island are working together to bring new types of potatoes to Newfoundland and Labrador from Chile in South America. E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. specializes in selling “high-quality vegetable and flower seeds,” according to the company’s website. Recently the store started giving away free samples of Chilean potato varieties (supplied by Phytocultures) to local gardeners who will plant the potatoes and see if they will grow well enough in the rather harsh local conditions. The sample potato seeds soon ran out due to eager demand. The new type of potatoes were developed by plant propagation specialist Don Northcott, who founded Phytocultures in 1986. 

While Northcott was on Chiloé Island — located in Chile, South America — he found out about hundreds of new kinds of potato varieties there – varieties suited to survive in harsh climates and conditions. “Newfoundland has a couple of soil-born diseases that make the export of agriculture products from Newfoundland into other parts of Canada and the United States prohibited,” Northcott said. He decided to get 4 of the Chilean varieties tested there by locals to see if they can survive. The names of these varieties? Kiss-me-a-lot, yellow sun, red smile and lobster red… Read full story