Planting season is underway at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s Benton Ridge substation near Woodstock, N.B., where scientists are putting potential new potato varieties through their paces in the hopes of identifying superior potato selections to meet industry and consumer needs.
According to AAFC, developing disease resistant potatoes is one of the main priorities of the Fredericton Research and Development Centre’s potato breeding program in order to help farmers protect production and reduce costs.
That’s why scientists are continuing to evaluate a large number of possible potato candidates with potential resistance to late blight and potato virus Y (PVY) — two of the most common threats potato farmers have to deal with every year.
Head potato breeder Benoit Bizimungu says more than 85,000 potential new potato varieties are being planted this year at Benton Ridge to help researchers identify superior selections for various markets.
According to AAFC, more than 57 per cent of the varieties being trialed incorporate resistance to late blight and/or PVY through the use of wild potato relative species, exotic cultivars and advanced germplasm from other breeding programs.
Scientists are looking at lines combining multiple resistances and suitable end-use quality traits. Once they’ve narrowed down the most promising candidates, they will continue to evaluate them against a long list of criteria in the hopes of identifying a superior combination of traits. The latter will be released to industry to allow growers to evaluate them in real production conditions.