Eye on Ag - Potato Research - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Eye on Ag - Potato Research

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The potatoes you grow in your yard -- and farmers grow in their fields -- could be improving thanks to research ongoing in western North Dakota.

As Perry Olson shows us in today's Eye on Agriculture, the effort to develop new and better potato varieties continues in the Nesson Valley south of Ray.

Chances are you like them -- golden, tasty -- french fries. Believe it or not, much of the research happening here in western North Dakota is all about the fry...

(Susie Thompson, PhD - NDSU Dept. of Plant Sciences) "About 60 percent of the industry in ND and MN has to do with the french fry processing industry."

Susie Thompson and her fellow researchers were south of Ray recently where the NDSU Extension Center works on developing new potato varieties.

(Susie Thompson, PhD - NDSU Dept. of Plant Sciences) "We focus on the long russets...some have unique yellow flesh so you can make a yellow french fry for example."

Breeding potatoes may not seem like a very difficult process...but it takes time.

(Susie Thompson, PhD - NDSU Dept. of Plant Sciences) "As breeders we plant these little bitty seeds in the greenhouse and then the tubers that develop from those plants we plant out in the field and that is the start of potato breeding."

At least a decade is needed to fully develop a new breed and offer it to producers -- usually more like 15 years. But when the work is done, new breeds start to show up...like this purple potato they are working on now...they also work to perfect what is out there already...

"What consumers like in reds is a nice bright red skin and one where the skin stays on..."

The Nesson Valley north of the lake works perfectly for this research. Irrigation systems are in place, temps are right, and actually, this is great ground for potatoes...and it is showing again this year.

(Susie Thompson, PhD - NDSU Dept. of Plant Sciences) "Yield and tuber confirmation and size profile is amazingly beautiful. Beautiful big potatoes."

That means it has been a great year for research...and it may lead to better fries for you -- among other potato products -- in the future. With your Eye on Agriculture, Perry Olson, KX News.

Thompson says they are always looking for new varieties of potatoes that can be developed into specific products.

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