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Total acres, top varieties decline

The top varieties of seed potatoes by acreage saw some big gains and some big losses in 2007. More than 300 varieties of seed potatoes were certified, but more than 70 percent of the total acreage approved was dedicated to the top 20 varieties. Total acreage declined overall to 109,168 acres, a 4 percent decrease that brings the total acreage close to 2005 levels. Those top 20 for 2007 are Russet Burbank, Norland, Russet Norkotah and Norkotah selections, Atlantic, Shepody, Yukon Gold, Red LaSoda, Alturas, Rio Grande Russet, French Fingerling, Snowden, Superior, Western Russet, Goldrush, Dakota Pearl, Canela Russet, Centennial Russet and CalWhite.

Russet Burbank continues to be the most planted variety, nearly four times the second-most planted variety. Russet Burbank saw a slight decrease of 6 percent, bringing the total acreage of the variety to 28,188 acres. The bulk of the Russet Burbank acres were certified in Idaho, with 16,445 acres planted in the state, followed by Montana with 4,536 acres and Minnesota with 2,774 acres.

The Norland varieties took the second spot, despite seeing a 2 percent drop to 7,489 acres. Norland topped the seven Russet Norkotah selections, which dropped nearly 35 percent in acres planted. The Norkotah selections are down almost 40 percent from two years ago, the highest planting on record for the selections.

Russet Norkotah also saw a significant decrease in acreage. The variety had 1,500 fewer acres planted, a 25 percent decrease. Norkotah has a wide distribution as far as growing areas, with the largest producers close in total acreage. Nebraska planted the most (914 acres), followed by Montana (845 acres) and Idaho (808 acres).

Red LaSoda has undergone some wide swings in acres planted, and it appears to be leveling out. In 2006, the variety increased more than 50 percent over the previous year, and this year is down 16 percent to 2,206 acres certified.

The variety in the Top 20 with the largest increase was the French Fingerling, which jumped about 91 percent to 1,875 acres certified. Most of those acres were in Wisconsin, which certified more than 1,700 acres of the variety.

Another variety that saw a large jump in acres planted was Alturas, which increased 36 percent. That variety was planted on 2,167 acres, up from 1,380 in 2006.

Two varieties grown almost exclusively in Colorado made the list in 2007. A newly named variety, Canela Russet (formerly AC92009-4Ru) was planted in 1,049 acres. In 2006, Canela was planted on about 629 acres in the state. Centennial Russet, a variety that dates back to 1977, was certified on 998 acres, all in Colorado.

A variety released in 1997 by the University of California rounds out the Top 20 for 2007. The CalWhite variety was planted on 910 acres, with California and Minnesota certifying the most acres of CalWhite.

Protected varieties continue to add acreage. The Frito Lay varieties accounted for 8,099 acres in 2007, with the largest growing areas concentrated in Nebraska, with 2,242 acres, and Maine, with 1,940 acres.

Originally posted Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007

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