Breaking down 2020 seed potato acres
The Russet Burbank isn’t a perfect potato, but it’s versatile enough, productive enough and stores well enough to continue to make it the most-grown cultivar in the United States.
The five Burbank strains grown in the U.S. accounted for 18,104 of the 103,857 certified accepted seed acreage this year. Russet Norkotah (10 strains) held its usual second spot with 11,060 acres. Overall, seed acreage was up about 6% from last year, thanks in part to Frito-Lay acreage being closer to normal after below-average acreage in 2019.
While Burbank and Norkotah remain the old reliables in terms of versatile russets, breeders and growers continue to search for improvements, whether as processing-only potatoes or ones also suitable for retail.
A pair of still-fairly-new russet varieties that have seen steady increase in seed acreage the past few years are Ivory and Reveille.
Ivory, originally bred in The Netherlands two decades ago, received a jolt in 2015 when McDonald’s approved it, along with Clearwater Russet, for use in making its iconic fries. In 2017, U.S. seed acreage for Ivory was virtually nonexistent. This year, it was nearly 500 acres. The North American distributor of Ivory is HZPC Americas.
“It comes out fairly early, so it’s suitable for early processing, and that’s good for business,” said Greg Meeker, director of business development for HZPC Americas. “It’s got low sugar and good sugar distribution, which makes it store really well and the low sugar also makes for great fries.”
Larissa Dawson, HZPC Americas’ product manager, added: “I would say that Ivory Russet is on par or a few days later than a standard Norkotah, but it will store more like a Burbank.”
Reveille was bred by Texas A&M University breeding program founder Creighton Miller, who died in 2019. Miller told university publication AgriLife Today in 2015 that the potato was bred with the fresh market in mind.
“In all our taste panels, the ratings were very high,” Miller said. “It also has wide adaptability (having been grown in the Southwest and Midwest).”
LeRoy Salazar, owner of Salazar Farms in Colorado, grows a lot of first- and second-field year seed, including Reveille. He said it’s gaining popularity in the region.
“It has really good yields and it’s early enough,” Salazar said. “One of its drawbacks is that it takes a while to set its skins, so it takes a little longer to get those good yields. It’s a good variety, though.”
Like Ivory, seed acres for Reveille were almost nil three years ago. This year, seed acreage totaled 435.
One of the most famous potato varieties in the U.S. — Yukon Gold — continues to be planted and grown less frequently than in years past. Seed acreage (522) was less than half of what it was in 2016 and about a quarter of what it was in 2012. Gala, at 803 acres, surpassed Yukon Gold this year as the most-grown yellow seed potato variety.
“Yellow-fleshed lines, such as Yukon Gold, have become harder to grow over the last few years due to potato virus Y,” wrote Chuck Bornt, Cornell University Cooperative Extension Area Specialist, in his 2018 Eastern NY Potato Trials report. “One new variety from the N.Y. breeding program called NY 149 I think has some potential to be a replacement for Yukon — not only does it have a nice yellow flesh, but many of the tubers retain the pink-eye trait that Yukon is also noted for and has fewer internal defects.”
On the chipping front, a variety of note is Lady Liberty (NY 152), a high-yielding, smaller white with good resistance to common scab. The Cornell University cultivar tripled in seed production this year to 433 acres.
Accepted certified seed numbers were compiled by state seed organizations and reported by the staff at the San Luis Valley Research Center at Colorado State University.
Top 25 varieties by U.S. seed acreage and how they compared to last year
Type, Seed Acres To 2019 2019 rank
- Burbank (five varieties) Russet 18,104 -6.4% 1
- Norkotah (10 varieties) Russet 11,060 +1.9% 2
- Frito-Lay varieties White 9,628 +54.4% 3
- Ranger (two) Russet 6,038 -2.2% 4
- Norland Reds (four) Red 5,546 -4.0% 5
- Umatilla Russet 5,495 +11.3% 6
- Lamoka White 3,302 -2.2% 7
- Clearwater Russet 3,110 -1.4% 8
- Atlantic White 2,416 +3.5% 9
- Miscellaneous Misc. 2,084 +23.3% 12
- Alturas Russet 2,041 +12.0% 10
- Snowden White 1,867 +4.4% 11
- Ciklamen Red 1,831 +34.8% 14
- Dakota Pearl White 1,791 +12.2% 13
- Bannock Russet 1,519 +22.4% 16
- Waneta White 1,340 +20.5% 17
- Shepody Russet 1,184 +8.1% 18
- Caribou Russet Russet 1,125 +43.7% 24
- Red LaSoda (four) Red 1,123 +7.2% 19
- Silverton Russet 1,081 -13.6% 15
- Canela Russet 950 +68.7% 29
- Goldrush Russet 835 -3.5% 21
- Teton Russet Russet 811 -11.2% 20
- Gala Yellow 803 +25.3% 27
- Chieftain Red 799 +1.0% 22
Top cultivar seed acreage by category
- Burbank (original) 15,616
- Ranger 5,656
- Umatilla 5,495
- Norkotah 278 4,128
- Norkotah 296 3,486
- Clearwater 3,110
- Alturas 2,041
- Bannock 1,519
- Burbank PHPL9 1,301
- Shepody 1,184
Whites/Chippers (Non-Frito Lay)
- Lamoka 3,302
- Atlantic 2,416
- Snowden 1,867
- Dakota Pearl 1,791
- Waneta 1,340
- Norland Dark Red 3,693
- Ciklamen 1,831
- Norland Red 1,683
- Chieftain 799
- Red LaSoda N.Y. 654
- Gala 803
- Yukon Gold 522
- Agata 478
- Cascada 429
- Alegria 412
Variety Type 2020 2019 2018
Ivory Russet 493 187 69
Reveille Russet 435 311 228
Noelle Yellow 269 46 35
Hodag White/Chip 145 127 91
Belmonda Yellow 139 78 26
Variety Type 2020 2019 2018
Teton Russet 811 914 970
Yukon Gold Yellow 522 746 810
Superior White 466 620 674
Red Pontiac Red 235 279 289
Chipeta White 29 173 157