A high-yielding russet potato that was bred locally and should be officially released soon has shown promise as a short-season variety for processing that’s suited for storing at cold temperatures. Rich Novy, a potato breeder with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, made the initial cross for the russet line, A03141-6, in 2003.
Novy said the spud will be called Galena Russet, named after Idaho’s scenic natural landmark Galena Peak. Located in the Ketchum area, Galena Peak, at 11,153 feet, is the state’s 94th tallest summit.
The initial cross was made for Galena from Premier Russet and an unreleased numbered line while seeking to breed a spud with cold-sweetening resistance. Cold sweetening occurs when the enzyme invertase changes sugars in potatoes stored in cold conditions, causing them to be dark when fried.
“The big thing for it is its cold-sweetening resistance. You can store at colder temperatures than say Burbank or Ranger,” Novy said, explaining tuber quality can be maintained better when spuds are stored at a colder temperature.
Galena has already been approved for release by the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program: Potato breeders from USDA, University of Idaho, Oregon State University and Washington State University collaborate on their breeding efforts. An entity known as the Potato Variety Management Institute, based in Bend, Oregon, manages the royalties.
The most recent data, from 2018, shows Russet Burbank represented 38 percent of planted potato acres in the Pacific Northwest, Spear said.
Royalties from sales of Galena seed will support the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program, which collected about $800,000 in royalties in 2019.