Breaking down 2021 seed potato acres
U.S. potato farmers grew more acres of accepted certified seed potatoes in 2021 than they had previously produced since 2017.
Certified seed acreage totaled 106,651 in 2021, up from 103,858 acres the year before, for an increase of 2.7%. Seed acres were the highest since the nearly 108,000 in 2017. Acreage went as low as 100,864 in 2019 during the past five years.
In spite of the increase in overall seed acreage, industry stalwart Russet Burbank decreased in seed acres by 6.2% to just under 17,000 acres. The combination of 10 Norkotah strains ranked second with 11,534 acres, an increase of 4.2%.
A newer trio of Norkotah varieties, developed by the University of Idaho breeding program — first led by Steve Love and then Jeff Sark — as well as grower partnership entity Northwest Norkotah LLC, gained in certified seed acreage by 66% from last year to 886 acres. Acreage has grown steadily from just 101 in 2018. The Northwest Norkotah clones grown in 2021 included 90, 111 and 218. The 90 clone is the furthest along in commercialization, said Mike Telford, the president of Northwest Norkotah LLC.
“Ninety has been around for a while, is more established and doing well,” Telford told Spudman. Ninety accounted for 535 of the Northwest Norkotahs’ 886 seed acreage. In 2015, Telford compared 90 to the Russet Norkotah 3 clone already on the market in that it gets large with good yields.
The 218 totaled 172 seed acres, while the 111 was planted on 84 acres. Telford said both are continuing to be produced because there are mixed feelings on which is the more promising clone.
“Some like the 111, and some like the 218,” he said. “I think it has something to do with the area in which they’re grown.”
The original Russet Norkotah cultivar was created in 1987 by North Dakota State University breeders. Numerous others, including the 3, were later created by researchers from Texas A&M University and Colorado State University.
The original Russet Burbank variety continues to be the most-grown seed potatoes in the U.S., with 14,095 acres in 2021. Although down 8%, Umatilla is the second-most grown russet with more than 5,200 acres.
The russet market continues to get more competitive and crowded, however. Clearwater, Caribou, Dakota, Reveille and Ivory all continued their upward trends in seed acreage in 2021.
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.
— Freelance writer Bill Schaefer contributed to this story.
Top photo: Norkotah Northwest 90s in storage at Telford’s Lost River Seed in Idaho. Photo: Bill Schaefer
Seed Acreage Insights
Variety, acres, increase/decrease
- Russet Burbank (five clones), 16,978 acres, down 6.2%
- Russet Norkotah (10 clones), 11,534 acres, up 4.2%
- Frito-Lay Varieties, 9,802 acres, up 1.8%
- Norland Reds (four clones), 5,728 acres, up 3.3%
- Ranger Russet (two clones), 5,720 acres, up 5.3%
- Umatilla Russet, 5,233 acres, down 7.7%
- Clearwater Russet, 3,547 acres, up 14.0%
- Lamoka, 3,108 acres, down 5.9%
- Atlantic, 2,340 acres, down 2.3%
- Miscellaneous, 2,206 acres, up 5.9%
- Alturas, 2,058 acres, down 0.8%
- Ciklamen, 1,876 acres, up 2.5%
- Snowden, 1,875 acres, up 0.4%
- Waneta, 1,511 acres, up 12.7%
- Caribou Russet, 1,476 acres, up 31.1%
- Dakota Pearl, 1,376 acres, down 23.2%
- Bannock Russet, 1,363 acres, down 10.3%
- Red LaSoda (four clones), 1,132 acres, up 0.7%
- Silverton Russet, 1,112, up 2.9%
- Shepody, 1,089 acres, down 8.1%
- Northwest Norkotah (three clones), 886, up 65.9%
- Dakota Russet, 877 acres, up 60.7%
- Reveille Russet, 868 acres, up 99.5%
- Chieftain, 850 acres, up 6.4%
- Gala, 848 acres, up 5.6%
Dropped out of top 25: Canela Russet, Goldrush, Teton Russet
Top Clones Seed Acreage by Category
Clone, Acres (Top state, acres)
Burbank (original), 14,095 acres (Idaho, 7,902)
- Umatilla, 5,233 acres, (North Dakota, 2,143)
- Ranger, 5,072 acres (Idaho, 2,564)
- Norkotah 278, 4,407 acres (Idaho, 2,629)
- Clearwater, 3,547 acres (Idaho, 1,485)
- Norkotah 296, 3,507 acres (Idaho, 1,602)
- Alturas, 2,058 acres (Idaho, 1,232)
- Burbank PHLP8, 1,492 acres (Idaho, 1,492)
- Caribou, 1,476 acres (Maine, 1,259)
- Bannock, 1,363 (North Dakota, 1,266)
Lamoka, 3,108 acres (Wisconsin, 734)
- Atlantic, 2,340 acres (Wisconsin, 832)
- Snowden, 1,875 acres (Wisconsin, 712)
- Waneta, 1,511 acres (Maine, 484)
- Dakota Pearl, 1,376 acres (North Dakota, 1,116)
- Norland Dark Red, 3,870 acres (North Dakota, 1,290)
- Ciklamen, 1,876 acres (Idaho, 813)
- Norland Red, 1,673 acres (North Dakota, 1,253)
- Chieftain, 850 acres (Washington, 285)
- Red LaSoda N.Y., 711 acres (North Dakota, 465)
- Gala, 848 acres (Idaho, 331)
- Cascada, 506 acres (Minnesota, 502)
- Soraya, 477 acres (Colorado, 394)
- Alegria, 453 acres (Colorado, 155)
- Yukon Gold, 437 acres (Minnesota, 130)
Lady Liberty, a Cornell-bred white potato known for high yields and long dormancy, increased in seed acreage by 45% to 629 acres.
McDonald’s-approved Ivory Russet grew in acreage to 615, an increase of 25%.
Isabelia was the seventh-most grown yellow variety in 2021 at 369 acres, an increase of 369%.
Michigan State University chipping cultivar Mackinaw rose 641% to 165 acres.
Fenway Red seed acres rose 396% to 135. It was bred from Dakota Rose and Parella.
Teton Russet seed acreage only fell 3%, but it was the fifth straight year of decline for the cultivar.
White potato Superior fell to 444 acres, a decrease of 4.8%. It was the seventh straight year of decline.
At 437 seed acres — a decrease of 16% — yellow staple Yukon Gold is now just the fifth-most grown yellow.
Yellow cultivar Satina peaked in acreage in 2016 at 986, but was down to 343 acres in 2021.
Pike, a white potato, was down to just 25 acres. A decade ago, it totaled 800 acres.
Seed Acreage by State
- Idaho 30,940 acres
- North Dakota 14,443
- Montana 10,903
- Maine 10,168
- Wisconsin 9,539
- Colorado 7,631
- Nebraska 6,789
- Minnesota 5,634
- Washington 3,648
- Oregon 3,067
- Michigan 2,489
- California 672
- New York 547