Lancaster Farming publishes report on UMaine’s potato breeding program

Lancaster Farming published “Survival of the fittest tuber,” an article on the University of Maine’s potato breeding and variety development program. Since 2014, UMaine has released four potato varieties in cooperation with the Maine Potato Board, according to the article. A new potato variety released for commercial production represents a significant investment, according to Greg Porter, professor of crop ecology and management at UMaine, who leads the potato breeding and development program at Aroostook Farm. It typically takes about eight years or more before a new potato variety is selected for potential commercial production, Lancaster Farming reported. In the test fields of Aroostook Farm, Mother Nature selects the hybrid that best adapts to soil and climate conditions, and that is genetically resistant to common soil-borne diseases, Porter said. There’s no irrigation, no pest management, no fertilization — it’s survival of the fittest tuber, the article states. “That way, we know quite early — after the third year of screening — whether a variety has late blight resistance, pink rot resistance, scab resistance, potato virus resistance and early die resistance,” Porter said. “Those are our four top targets for increasing pest resistance.” Potato Grower and Potato News Today also published the article.