Defender is the only U.S. commercial potato with
late-blight-resistant leaves and tubers.
Defender Potato Makes Fabulous Fries, Foils Late
By Marcia Wood
May 18, 2005
Those delicious, golden fries you've
enjoyed recently may have come from a potato called Defender. This excellent
potato is the offspring of two parent potatoes chosen in 1990 by prominent
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
potato breeder Joseph J. Pavek, formerly at the ARS
Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Idaho, and now
This potato has held the attention of ARS potato breeders and their
university colleagues for more than a decade. These scientists were making
sure--in outdoor and laboratory tests--that this promising potato would not
only be ideal for processing into perfect fries, but also would resist attack
by Phytophthora infestans, the funguslike organism that causes late
blight--one of the worst disease of potatoes worldwide.
Scientists scrutinized the potato's performance in fields in California,
Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Washington and
elsewhere. French-fry processors also evaluated the potato. Last year, ARS
G. Novy at Aberdeen, ARS colleagues in Idaho and Washington, and
co-investigators at the University of Idaho,
Washington State University, and
Oregon State University decided to name
the potato "Defender" and officially release it to the potato
Today, Defender remains the only commercial potato variety in the United
States to produce leaves and tubers that usually survive late blight, according
The natural resistance of Defender potato plants allows growers to use
either no pesticides--or reduced amounts--to control late blight. In turn, this
feature makes the potato ideal for conventional and organic farms alike.
Defender plants produce high yields of long, white-skin potatoes with
proportions of starch and sugar that make the tubers well-suited for processing
into frozen potato products. In addition, Defender potatoes can be sold fresh
in the produce section of supermarkets.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.