Are Potatoes Still Potatoes?

Published online: Mar 28, 2000
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Idaho potato growers used to the Russet Burbank variety are watching as the University of Idaho runs field trials on red, purple and yellow potatoes this summer.

"It provides them with another option to diversify-to make money and stay in business," Christi Falen, Jerome, ID, County extension educator, said.

Extension potato specialist Nora Olsen of the Kimberly, ID, Research and Extension Center, said she will be evaluating the performance of seven specialty varieties on a small plot this year. She noted, however, that the market can be quickly flooded when many growers decide to plant a specific exotic variety.

JoAnn Robbins, Blaine County extension educator, said she sees a time when consumers will find as many varieties of potatoes in grocers' bins as they now find apples.

Steve Love, UI potato breeder, said it isn't hard to grow them, "but we don't know enough about them to optimize production."

Love said most consumer markets for specialty potatoes are in major cities along the east and west coasts. Idaho growers may be at a disadvantage when it comes to transportation costs, he noted.