Breeding

‘Survival of the Fittest Tuber’: Potato breeding in Maine

Pinto Gold, a potato variety developed by the University of Maine’s potato breeding and variety development program, made its debut in May 2018.

Named for its alternating patches of red and yellow skin colors, the yellow-fleshed tubers range from oval to fingerling shapes, said Gregory Porter, professor of crop ecology and management at the university.

He leads the potato breeding and development program at the Aroostook Farm, a research farm in the heart of Maine potato country.

In 2015, the Caribou Russet, a cross of the Silverton Russet potato and the Reeves Kingpin, was developed as a dual-purpose potato (baked or mashed) for fresh-market consumers and also for potato processing markets, Porter said.

The Easton (a french-fry variety) and Sebec (a high-yield potato chip variety), both released in February 2014, were primarily developed for the processing industry, but are suitable for fresh market sales as well.

Located on Houlton Road in Presque Isle, the largest city in Aroostook County, the 425-acre research facility features a barn, a four-laboratory-office complex, a main office, two machine storage buildings, a potato storage research facility, and a 2,800-square-foot, year-round greenhouse, along with other office areas.

It is the largest of the university’s five experimental farms and its research focuses on a wide range of concerns related to the state’s potato industry.

Each year, two greenhouses at the farm are filled with hybrids that produce about 35,000 unique offspring, Porter said. Those offspring, plus 50,000 or more from other breeding programs in North America, are planted in fields for the seed farm breeding program.

Full report on Lancaster Farming here