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What’s new in the hill?

Two varieties from the US are gaining in popularity.

November 14, 2007  By Rosalie I. Tennison

8aNew potato varieties are always cropping up, but few make it to the top of
the hill. Ontario potato specialist, Eugenia Banks evaluates hundreds of new
varieties and, in 2004, two varieties from breeders in the US, one older, one
new, have her singing their praises. "I was impressed by Dakota Jewel,
a dark red variety, and by Marcy, which is good for processing and is tolerant
to scab," Banks says.

Marcy is a late maturing, high yielding chipping variety released through the
breeding program at Cornell University. After her field evaluation, Banks believes
this is a good new variety to try. The tubers have soft flaky skin, white flesh
and an attractive round shape. "In Ontario, the yield of Marcy has been
higher than Snowden," Banks reports. She adds that dry matter content is
about 22 percent and tubers have few external or internal defects. However,
if tubers get too large they can be susceptible to hollow heart.

"One of the most important traits of this variety is its scab tolerance,"
adds Banks. "In 2003, I conducted a scab trial in a field that was heavily
infested with pitted and superficial scab. The susceptible varieties had most
of the tuber surface covered with pitted scab. Marcy, in contrast, showed only
five to 10 percent of superficial scab." Marcy is also resistant to the
golden nematode, according to Banks.


In Banks' trials, she also made note of Dakota Jewel, a red-skinned variety
that was bred at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Potato breeder Asunta
Thompson and plant pathologist Gary Secor are understandably proud of this cultivar
that was selected in 1986, but, following its release in 2004, is now being
lauded by the industry due to some attractive traits. Dakota Jewel is a red-skinned
potato with bright white flesh and Secor believes its nice round shape is partly
what is appealing to growers and consumers. Thompson says that Dakota Jewel
tends to have higher dry matter than current commercial red-skinned varieties,
which makes it attractive as a baking potato as well.

"We have a history in the Red River valley of producing superlative red
potatoes," boasts Secor. "We grow round red potatoes that have good
appeal as tablestock."

Thompson says that Dakota Jewel has good, early skin set prior to harvest resulting
in few storage problems. The red colour is maintained in storage, so the potato
always looks appealing when taken out of the storage shed. Unfortunately, Dakota
Jewel is susceptible to most diseases and insects, but Thompson says as long
as growers are aware and on the lookout for problems, they can minimize any
potential pest issues.

"Growers can expect to get tubers in the six to eight ounce range,"
explains Thompson. "Dakota Jewel yields about 10 percent less than Red
LaSoda, but it always equals Red Norland." In Banks' Ontario trials, Dakota
Jewel yielded 400cwt/ac.

These examples demonstrate the success of two US breeding programs. Secor says
the NDSU program continues to pursue red-skinned varieties, particularly ones
with yellow and red flesh. "We like to develop multi-purpose varieties
with disease and insect resistance that can be grown in many areas."

The success of Banks' trials proved that Dakota Jewel and Marcy transferred
well to the Ontario growing climate. Now growers need to give them a try. -30-



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