Breeding

‘Edinburgh Potato’ used in fight against potato blight

A hybrid potato that is resistant to the crop-destroying fungus known as blight is being trailed as a potential saviour of some of the country’s best-known varieties of spud.

The so-called “Edinburgh Potato” mixes domestic and wild Mexican breeds.

There are fears it could wipe out family favourites such as King Edwards and Maris Pipers in the coming decades.

Researchers believe the Edinburgh Potato – Solanum x edinense – could be the key.

Blight costs the UK industry an estimated £55m a year. The disease is constantly evolving, so potato varieties that were previously resistant may not be in years to come.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a renowned scientific centre for the study of plants and conservation.

RBGE’s Max Coleman has been working with other potato experts from research bodies across Scotland on the hybrid project. He said: “We got blight in August this year and most of the potatoes had to be topped – the topping means the disease doesn’t go into the roots and affect the potatoes.”

He told BBC Scotland’s Landward of the hybrid crop: “This is perfectly healthy. This is what I like to call the Edinburgh Potato.

“It’s called that because it has a history in this garden going back into the 1800s.” Mr Coleman explained: “What we now know is that this potato is actually the product of a cross between the cultivated potato that we all know and a wild Mexican potato.

Full report by the BBC here