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Benoit Bizimungu, potato breeder at Fredericton Research and Development Center, holds a potato grown at the farm in Benton Ridge.

A better potato makes a better french fry

The potato industry will have plenty of choices when Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada hosts the annual potato selection event on February 14 at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre.

The annual potato selection release open house will also be held jointly in Guelph, Ont. and Lethbridge, Alta. on the same day.

Fifteen selections from the potato breeding program are available for trial, offering growers a wide range of promising new potatoes.

There are five french fry potatoes this year: two for the potato chip sector, six fresh market selections and two potatoes with coloured flesh.

The star of the show may be a potato with the potential to replace the Russet Burbank, the king of potatoes.  As the primary choice for french fries, Russet Burbank accounts for 70 per cent of potato sales to North American processors, and 20 per cent of the overall potato market.  The new potato boasts a higher yield, adaptability to a variety of growing conditions and good storage results.

This potato stands up well to Verticillium, a soil-borne fungus that can cut into yield, especially in Atlantic Canada.  It is also less prone to tuber defects, reducing the amount of waste in the field.

“The tuber defect in this new variety is up to 50 per cent less than tuber defect in Russet Burbank,” says potato breeder Benoit Bizimungu.

These improved features add up to higher profits for growers.

One of this year’s potato chip potatoes does well in various growing conditions and is ready for harvest early in the season – welcome news, especially in Ontario, where growers have been looking for locally adapted chip varieties to supply the lucrative snack food industry in the region.

There is even a potato with pink flesh for specialty markets, ideal for a Valentine’s Day dinner.

Bizimungu believes these latest breeding innovations are poised to deliver quantity and quality to growers and processors, and taste to consumers.

AAFC Potato Selection Release Open House locations and schedules

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