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Potato centre rolls out new spuds

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Potato Research Centre (PRC) in Fredericton is offering 15 new promising potatoes to industry for further testing, AAFC announced Thursday.

“Today’s release of these new and promising potatoes is a perfect way to mark the United Nations’ International Year of the Potato,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a government release.

Since 1950, the PRC has produced 32 new varieties of potatoes, including the first “made-in-Canada potato” and the world’s second most popular French fry processing potato, the Shepody. A total of 62 varieties have been developed, released and registered for production across Canada by AAFC potato breeders, including the popular Yukon Gold developed jointly with the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.

Each February for the past 11 years, the PRC has hosted an open house to offer industry the best of its new and promising potatoes under the Accelerated Release Program. This year’s potatoes have already undergone a minimum of six years of a rigorous testing and selection program. The potential potatoes are tested for adaptation, yield, size, colour, cooking and processing quality, resistance to diseases and pests and other characteristics before they are offered to the industry.

Industry representatives receive detailed information on each new potato available and can obtain the non-exclusive rights to conduct their own field and processing trials for two years.

Thursday’s releases included five French fry selections, one chip selection, eight fresh market selections and one purple flesh selection that is high in antioxidants. It’s a colourful group, including some with light red, purple or russet skin and some with yellow or light yellow flesh.

Of these new promising potatoes, commercial licences have been obtained by industry for 12.

Current PRC research also includes the study of what are believed to be health-promoting attributes in the flesh and skin of coloured potatoes.

AAFC conducts potato research at four research centres across the country: the PRC in Fredericton, the Crops and Livestock Research Centre in Charlottetown, the Lethbridge Research Centre in Alberta and the Brandon Research Centre in Manitoba.

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