Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program Shows Off Latest Varieties July 28 Near Springlake

Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program Shows Off Latest Varieties July 28 Near Springlake

The annual Texas A&M Potato Breeding and Variety Development Program Field Day, hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Barrett Potato Farms, will be July 28.

Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program Shows Off Latest Varieties July 28 Near Springlake
More than 170 selections will be available for viewing in the Texas A&M AgriLife potato trial on the Barrett Potato Farm. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Participants will assemble at the Springlake Potato Sales, located off of Texas Highway 385 between Littlefield and Springlake, at 10 a.m., then go to the field, said Isabel Vales, Ph.D., AgriLife Research potato breeder in the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Our potato breeding crew traveled to Lubbock last week, and we have been super busy harvesting trials,” Vales said. “We are done grading the red and specialty trials, and we are currently grading a trial that includes historical clones from the breeding program. We are excited to be able to talk about these at the upcoming field day.”

Tough growing season

Vales said it has been a challenging year to grow potatoes in Springlake. Potatoes emerged late and had to endure inclement weather.

“It is a miracle to see tubers underground,” she said. “Bruce Barrett, our grower collaborator, pointed out that potatoes had to withstand three hailstorms and lots of rain, including flooding. Harvest started two weeks later than normal. The yields are much lower than other years and the tubers seem immature.”

Vales said they postponed the field day because of concerns with the status of the plots but are ready to show them off now.

This year, there are 172 different clones in the field day trial. Most of the clones are Texas selections, but it also includes some advanced clones from other breeding programs. The clones include fresh and processing russets, chippers, reds, yellows and specialties such as the purples, red/red, bicolor, fingerlings and smalls.

“We want to promote potatoes that recently finished evaluations, some of which we’ve already released, including Reveille Russet, Vanguard Russet and Phoenix Russet, and also clones at regional level that will graduate soon,” Vales said. 

“I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new people,” she said. “I know there is still reluctance to travel, but hopefully most people will feel comfortable spending a day outdoors breathing fresh air, enjoying good company and looking for promising new potato varieties.”

For more information, contact Vales at isabel.vales@tamu.edu, Douglas Scheuring at 979-324-2564, or Jeffrey Koym at 806-777-2412.

Kay Ledbetter is an associate editor/senior writer/media relations specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife. She is responsible for writing news releases and feature articles from science-based information generated by the agency across the state, as well as the associated media relations.