INSIDERSSeed potatoesHarvest New Variety Insights at Trials and Conferences

Harvest New Variety Insights at Trials and Conferences


I’ve been thinking how daunting it can be for growers to select potato varieties to grow in the next season.

With hundreds of varieties already available, and new varieties released each year, it’s a lot to process. You can always go with your tried and true, but you might be missing out on improvements to yield, or being first in your region with a revolutionary variety that might put you in the spotlight in the marketplace.

But how do you find out what’s out there and how it might perform on your farm? Trials and conferences can be a great resource.

Visiting early trial areas is a great way to gather information about your variety options for the next year. University of Florida is first, with their harvest and demos in May. After this, the University of California has their Kern County Trials event in June. Varieties from private breeders are harvested, washed and displayed to be compared with industry standards. Industry experts are on hand to talk to you about your needs and what varieties might meet them. Breeders also run their own trials, and we’re always happy to talk to you about the results.

If you can’t attend these, another great opportunity is to attend the European conferences. I will be attending two this fall and would love to see you at there.

The first one is potato Europe, which is Sept. 11-12 in Villers-Saint-Christophe, France. This event is focused on machinery, equipment and farming practices, but has new varieties highlighted as well.

If you want only new varieties, almost every major breeder is at Potato Variety Days from Nov. 6-8 in the Netherlands. The layout allows you to move from breeder to breeder in a short amount of time because everything’s within a small radius.

Not only can you touch, see and taste the varieties, but you can also collaborate with people from around the world.

I’ve been at a global event, sitting at a table and discussing a variety of potato with people from all over the world. We quickly discovered we were all dealing with similar Mother Nature challenges with the same variety and using different management techniques to cope with them. There is great value in learning from others in the industry.

Whether at home or at a conference overseas, talk to us and let us know what you need, what your market is telling you and what your farm is telling you. Not only can we help you choose the variety that will fill those needs, you have an opportunity to shape breeders’ decisions about what comes to North America. When we know your challenges, we can help.

Aron Derbidge
Aron Derbidge
President, HZPC Americas - Derbidge has spent the last 20 plus years in and around the potato business. He has served growers, packers, shippers, and marketers of potatoes through packaging, logistics, variety development and seed production. He has been in potato breeding, variety development and seed production for the last 10 plus years. Derbidge is based in Idaho Falls, Idaho but his territory is North America, so he’s able to visit most potato producing areas across both Canada and United States. He’s currently serving as the potato chair for the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Potato Section. Derbidge is the proud father of two teenage girls and husband to his wife of 23 years. In his spare time, he enjoys precision sports, golf and fishing.