The University of Idaho is almost ready to open a new Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory. The new $5.5 million facility is located on the university’s Moscow campus and is a major upgrade from the previous facility, which was actually a few classrooms on the third floor of the ag science building.
The facility maintains the germplasm or startup material that Idaho’s potato industry uses to produce about 90 percent of the potatoes grown in Idaho. About 60 percent of the spuds grown in the United States originate from the facility as well.
The facility maintains disease-free tissue culture for about 300 different potato varieties, according to Jenny Durrin, the program director for the Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory. “We provide the starting material for the first generation of potatoes that are grown in a greenhouse and then get sold to seed potato growers,” said Durrin.
The new facility is much bigger than the previous one and will allow the program to significantly ramp up production as industry requires, Durrin said. The facility should go functional before the end of 2021 and CALS officials plan to hold a grand opening next spring.