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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Resources for the Genetic Improvement of Potato

Location: Vegetable Crops Research Unit

Title: Why are we still growing Russet Burbank? Part I. The many weaknesses and great strengths of America’s No. 1 potato

Authors
item Bethke, Paul
item Bussan, Alvin -

Submitted to: Common Tater
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 18, 2013
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Citation: Bethke, P.C., Bussan, A.J. 2013. Why are we still growing Russet Burbank? Part I. The many weaknesses and great strengths of America’s No. 1 potato. Common Tater. 65(8):30-31.

Technical Abstract: Russet Burbank remains the most widely grown potato variety in the United States. Knowing this, one might be tempted to conclude that Russet Burbank is an outstanding variety that is agronomically superior to other germplasm, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In variety trial after variety trial, newer processing russets have demonstrated their superiority to Russet Burbank in terms of marketable yield, resistance to diseases, and fry color at harvest and out of storage. Indeed, the catalog of faults for Russet Burbank is so extensive that no contemporary potato breeder would advance it for more than a few years. Russet Burbank has many flaws, but it has two strengths that have made it difficult for other fry processing varieties to replace it. Both relate to postharvest tuber characteristics. The first and most important is that Russet Burbank gives customers what they expect from finished fries in terms of appearance, texture and taste. The second most valuable characteristic of Russet Burbank is its ability to make high quality fries after long-term storage. Finally, it is likely that we continue to grow Russet Burbank because we are familiar with its strengths and rarely surprised by its weaknesses.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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