Dutch potato breeder HZPC has been working for years on hybrid potato breeding which are grown from seeds and not from a tubers, a June 23 news release from the company says.
“Seed potatoes from hybrid potatoes grow successfully on the well-known ‘ridges’ and now also in so-called ‘beds’. Flower bulbs are grown in this type of bed too,” the release says.
HZPC is now shifting to growing hybrid potatoes in beds instead of ridges. By doing this more potato plants can be can cultivated per square metre in beds, the release notes. There is also more control over the size of the harvested tuber and when the seeds are strong enough, they will be sown straight into the beds making hybrid potato breeding even more efficient.
“A hybrid potato is a combination of two inbred strains that create a uniform product. The ultimate tuber looks exactly the same as a traditional potato, but there are a few big differences in terms of characteristics. The biggest difference is that we can grow hybrid potatoes from a tuber and also from a seed. Another difference is that the breeder has greater influence on the characteristics that are present in the hybrid,” Ad Vrolijk, project leader for hybrid potatoes at HZPC, explains in the release.
Potato breeders can also make hybrid potato varieties resistant to diseases faster, whereas with traditional breeding it would take 10 years longer, the release says.
However, HZPC does not expect hybrid potatoes to replace the traditional potato growing process in the short term — it will take until at least 2030 before they can deliver a tailor-made potato.
“Growing potatoes from seed should be seen as a niche because traditional potato growing from a tuber has specific advantages over growing from seeds. However, for countries that struggle to access seed potatoes, a hybrid potato variety can offer huge positives for food security in terms of healthy food. And that is a fantastic development,” Ad Vrolijk says.