Connect With Us

Browsing articles by Hielke De Jong

What’s in a Name?

Even though Shakespeare has very eloquently expressed that names are no substitute for substance (as Juliet tells Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”), names are nevertheless important. In many cultures, great emphasis is placed on the naming of newborn children — in some instances, first names may provide an indication of the cultural, political and social circumstances surrounding the…

Potato Mutants: Useless Freaks or Precious Gems?

Mutations are naturally occurring phenomena in all living organisms. Most mutations are harmful in the organisms in which they occur. In seed-propagated crops, such harmful mutations – “freaks” – are often lost in the cycle of sexual reproduction and selection. Since the potato is commercially propagated by vegetative means, most mutations (also known as “sports”) that occur in the potato will be maintained. This can either be a bane or a blessing…

What’s in a Name?

Even though Shakespeare has very eloquently expressed that names are no substitute for substance (as Juliet tells Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”), names are nevertheless important. In many cultures, great emphasis is placed on the naming of newborn children — in some instances, first names may provide an indication of the cultural, political and social circumstances surrounding the…

True Potato Seed

The use of true potato seed (TPS) for growing potatoes is likely as old as the cultivation of the potato itself. Many potato cultivars in Andean highlands of South America — the region where potato was first domesticated — flower profusely and produce a lot of fruit. So it is only natural that the people in this area used TPS both to produce a crop for consumption as well as to develop…

From Chuno to Vodka

Fresh potato consumption, once the mainstay of world potato utilization, is decreasing in many countries, especially in developed regions. Currently, more potatoes are processed to meet rising demand from the fast food, snack and convenience food industries. The major drivers behind this development include growing urban populations, rising incomes, changing diets and the diversification of lifestyles that leave less time for preparing fresh potatoes at home. This shift, in turn, is affecting…

Wild Potato Cousins

The potato probably has more related wild species than any other crop. These wild relatives grow through much of the Americas, from the United States southwest through Central America and then along the South American Andes Mountains from Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northwest Argentina. They also occur in the lowlands of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. Over millions of years, various wild potato species have adapted to…

Domestication of the Potato

Domestication can be defined as the human creation of a new form of a plant or animal — one that is clearly different from its wild ancestors and relatives. Of the tens of thousands of plant species on the planet, only a few hundred have been domesticated. Of these, a dozen or so — including the potato — provide a large majority of the world’s food supply. The potato as we know it…

A Bug’s Life

The Colorado potato beetle is arguably the most devastating insect pest of potatoes, with most of the damage done by its voracious larva. This pest occupies an interesting place in North American potato history. Its first discovery in the United States was in the Rocky Mountains in 1811, when it was found feeding on sand bur, a wild relative of the potato. The name Colorado potato beetle is really a misnomer because…

Protecting Genetic Resources

From time to time, new potato diseases may break out, or old diseases and pests may spread into areas where they were, thus far, unknown. Wild potato species and heirloom cultivars represent a great treasure in terms of genetic resistances against current and/or future diseases and pests, and therefore represent a very valuable resource for future generations of potato producers and consumers alike. Many of the wild relatives of the potato are…

You have successfully signed up for our newsletter!

Open