New Potatoes Dont Need a Warm-Up Before
By Linda Cooke
August 13, 1997
A more economical way to give potato chips the light color that consumers
demand could be in the bag within several years. The key is a wild South
American relative of the potato plant, according to scientists with
Agricultural Research Service.
The potato chip industry now must warm potatoes taken from cold storage
before they can be processed into chips. Without being warmed, the potatoes
would yield dark brown chips because of accumulating sugars. Burnt-looking,
dark chips are unacceptable to consumers. None of the commercial varieties now
available can be processed directly from cold storage.
Thats where Solanum raphanifolium comes in. Tubers of this
potato relative can be processed into light-colored chips directly from cold
storage, according to studies by Robert E. Hanneman of the ARS
Vegetable Crops Research Unit,
Madison, Wis. Hanneman identified this trait of S. raphanifolium, a
native of Argentina and Bolivia, in screening more than 80 wild potato species
from around the world.
By crossing S. raphanifolium with relatives of commercial potato
varieties, ARS scientists developed new breeding lines that can be stored
between 34 and 36 degrees F. The hybrids from these lines were chipped directly
from cold storage, cutting reconditioning time from one month to one week.
These breeding lines have been provided to state, federal and industry
breeders who hope to develop new varieties early in the next century.
An added benefit of potatoes that can be chipped from cold temperatures is
the reduced need for chemicals that inhibit sprouting in stored potatoes. This
benefit comes just as many chemically based sprout inhibitors are being
eliminated by the Environmental Protection Agency
Scientific contact: Robert E. Hanneman, ARS Vegetable Crops Research
Unit, Madison, WI 53706, phone (608) 264-5193 or 262-1399, fax 262-4743,