AgriLife Research potato breeding program focus of July 24 field day
The annual Texas A&M Potato Breeding and Variety Development Field Day, hosted by cooperator Bruce Barrett, will be July 24 near Springlake.
Those planning to attend should assemble at 10 a.m. at Springlake Potato Sales, located between Littlefield, 12.5 miles north, and Springlake, 8.5 miles south, on State Highway 385, according to Creighton Miller, Texas A&M AgriLife Research potato breeder in College Station.
The program will be on the Barrett Farm, where Miller has 144 different potato varieties for viewing at the field day.
He said side-by-side plantings of each variety allows digging of one row of tubers during the field day, while leaving the second row for plant canopy observation. A field book will be provided with necessary information growers might want for each variety.
Miller will discuss the potato breeding program and recent developments in zebra chip research. He and his colleagues have planted about 18,000 offspring plants representing 183 different parental combinations at the Springlake site, and have a larger set of trials planted near Dalhart.
“Most people don’t realize in Texas we produce potatoes and have a breeding program to develop new varieties,” Miller said. “This program has been ongoing for more than 30 years.”
Variety testing, such as that at Barrett’s, is done in cooperation with the Southwestern Regional Potato Improvement Group, which includes Texas, Colorado and California. Additionally, the three states participate in the Western Regional Trials with Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
“As we develop promising selections, we enter them into the Southwestern Regional Trials,” Miller said. “And then if they do well there, we enter them into the Western Regional Trials. We hope we find something that is superior in yield and/or disease-resistance that producers are looking for.”
He said three of the Texas selections collectively rank fourth in total seed approved for certification and produced in the U.S. in 2012.
“We are breeding for and to help our Texas producers, but Texas varieties are also produced throughout the western U.S.,” Miller said. “We are breeding for improved russets, known as bakers; reds, used primarily for potato salad and boiling; and more common now are specialty potato varieties such as Yukon Gold, a yellow-flesh variety, and baby potatoes which cook fast. That’s one thing the modern home wants is fast meal preparation and the baby potatoes lend themselves to that.”
Miller said there are several new things happening in the potato world, and the Texas breeding program is at the forefront with its recently released variety called Sierra Rose, a red-skin, yellow-flesh variety.
For more information on the AgriLife Research potato breeding program, contact Miller at 979-845-3828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.