Breeding

Intellectual property: How two Canadian farmers developed a most tasteful potato variety

Without agronomy, we would all be naked, hungry and sober.

This memorable quote is making the rounds of winter meetings, a reminder of the enduring importance of research, writes Karen Davidson, editor of The Grower magazine in Canada in a recently published article.

On-farm research is nothing new, she writes, but for brothers Shawn and Chris Brenn, Waterdown, Ontario, the results of their methodical approach are proving to be a competitive edge when marketing to big-name retailers.

“This is the third year (2018) that we’ve marketed a red-skinned, yellow-fleshed potato under the Goldenheart name,” says Shawn Brenn. “In my view, it’s the most flavourful potato you can put in your mouth.” 

“I’m confident that taste sells,” says Brenn. “There is less food waste when consumers have a good eating experience.”

Goldenheart, a numbered variety, is exclusive to Brenn-B Farms, part of a marketing strategy to differentiate their offering of fresh potatoes. Of their 850 potato acres, only a portion is devoted to this variety. It’s packaged and marketed in five-pound polybags throughout eastern Canada, from Thanksgiving through the holiday season.

The marketing plan for Goldenheart rises out of four years of research on two on-farm sites with different soil types ranging from stony sand to heavier loams. Thanks to a City of Hamilton weather monitoring station located on their farm, they can track rainfall and temperatures.

Their acreages are not consolidated but spread over 25 to 30 locations.  Although the Elora Research Station, operated by the University of Guelph, has a robust potato testing program about 50 miles to the northwest, Brenn has observed differences in results when those same varieties are brought to the farm.

Read the full article on The Grower magazine website. A podcast featuring an interview in which Shawn Brenn shares his marketing journey with Goldenheart potatoes can be accessed here.