April 2007
Umatilla Russet, Red LaSoda see biggest gains in 2006

U.S. seed potato acres approved for certification in 2006 increased 4 percent from 2005. A report from Colorado State University showed 113,871 acres certified for 291 varieties.

Industry groups have encouraged growers to plant fewer acres to keep prices at a profitable level, and it appears to have made an impact, as the increase in plantings was minimal.

Given as good a marketing year it was, there’s still the possibility that growers will continue to restrain themselves as far as plantings,” said Robert Coltman, program director for the Wisconsin Seed Certification Program. “I think next year will determine how successful they’ve been.”

About 75 percent of the total acreage approved was dedicated to the top 20 varieties. The top varieties in 2006 are Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah selections, Norland, Russet Norkotah, Ranger Russet, Shepody, Umatilla Russet, Atlantic, Red LaSoda, Yukon Gold, Rio Grande Russet, Snowden, Superior, Dakota Pearl, Alturas, Western Russet, Goldrush, Chieftain, Reba and Pike.

The top variety continues to be Russet Burbank, with 29,991 acres approved. That’s a 4 percent gain over 2005, but still more than 9,000 fewer acres planted five years ago.

Russet Norkotah selections, a total of seven for 2006, decreased 7 percent to 8,428 acres. Although Norkotah decreased from 2005, this season’s total is still 2,000 more acres than two years ago.

Norland, the No. 3 variety, was up about 7 percent to 7,663 acres certified. Russet Norkotah overtook Ranger Russet for the fourth largest acreage despite a 10 percent decrease. Norkotah acreage was 6,150 and Ranger Russet was at 5,886, a 14 percent reduction.

Umatilla Russets saw the largest gain over 2005. Plantings nearly doubled from 2005, from 1,418 to 2,802 acres certified. That helped Umatilla Russet move from No. 13 to No. 7 of the most planted varieties.

Red LaSoda had the second largest gain in 2006. Plantings of the variety increased 53 percent to 2,613 acres. It also moved up two spots on the list to No. 9, surpassing Rio Grande Russet and Superior in acres planted.

The largest percentage decreases were Superior and Pike varieties. Both saw 17 percent reductions in acreage. Superior had 1,533 acres certified in 2006, and Pike had 730 acres certified.

In total acreage, Ranger Russet saw the largest decrease. Acreage decreased from 6,824 to 5,886, a 14 percent reduction. Ranger Russet fell one spot on the list of the most planted varieties, from No. 4 to No. 5.

Protected varieties are becoming more common as breeding programs look for funding, Coltman said. In Wisconsin, about 20 percent of acreage is devoted to protected varieties. That makes some growers nervous, as there are concerns about assessments and breeders micromanaging the supply to get a premium.

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