Seed Potato Report 2020: Yields and quality average to good in Western US
This year has brought a lot of bad with it for Americans, but one bright spot most U.S. seed potato growers can cite is good growing conditions.
Reports from around the U.S. tell of favorable conditions throughout most of the growing season, with average to above-average yields likely in the central and northwestern states. The exception is in the east, where a drought hampered farmers in Maine and New York and will likely result in less-than-desirable yields. Colorado also experienced some hiccups in terms of frost and snow.
Here are reports from state seed organizations in the Western United States:
The 2020 growing season in Idaho was relatively uneventful, a welcome change from last year.
The season began with good weather and planting was completed without serious interruption. Good growing conditions continued throughout the season and into harvest. As of mid-October, many Idaho seed growers had already completed harvest. Yields are reported as good and seed quality going into storage is reported as good to excellent. The 2020 crop appears to have a very nice size profile.
Seed health is also good this year. During summer inspections, the number of seed lots with visually detectable levels of PVY was the lowest it has been in 10 years. Additionally, there were no detections of bacterial ring rot during field inspections.
At the conclusion of the second round of field inspections, a total of 30,068 acres are eligible for final certification this year. This is essentially unchanged from 2019. Excluding proprietary genetics, the 2020 acreage accepted for certification represents a total of 144 varieties, selections, and advanced clones. For 2020, the top varieties were:
- Russet Burbank (35% of total acreage accepted)
- Russet Norkotah (all strains, 19% of total)
- Ranger Russet (11%)
- Clearwater Russet (5%)
- Alturas (4%)
- Umatilla Russet (2%)
Russet Burbank acreage was down approximately 11% versus last year, while Russet Norkotah and Alturas acreage increased 7% and 18%, respectively. A complete listing of this year’s seed potato crop is available in the 2019 Idaho Certified Seed Potato Directory, posted on the Idaho Crop Improvement at www.idahocrop.com. — Alan Westra, Idaho Crop Improvement Commission Southeast Manager
Montana seed potato growers report above average yields and quality. The crop was harvested under excellent conditions without frost exposure and the overall quality is excellent.
The 2020 growing season was very mild throughout Montana. Potatoes were planted without significant rain delays in the spring and got off to a good start with nice June weather, and reached row closure before the arrival of hot weather. Most growers had initiated vine kill by Sept. 1 and were aided by a Sept. 7 frost, which finished off most of the vines. September and the first half of October were warmer than average, but temperatures were never too high and excessive pulp temperatures were not an issue.
Montana seed potato acreage increased significantly from 10,440 acres in 2019 to 10,878 acres.
- Russet Burbank is still the dominant variety at 3,852 acres and accounts for 35% of acreage.
- Umatilla is the second most widely produced variety in Montana and increased from 1,376 acres in 2019 to 1,496 acres in 2020 for a total of 14% of acreage.
- Ranger Russet acreage is steady at 1,299 acres.
- Clearwater acreage had been on a steady rise since its introduction to Montana in 2009, but has plateaued at 1,886 acres and is in fourth place in terms of total acreage.
- Alturas acreage was up slightly from 623 acres in 2019 to 652 acres in 2020.
- Norkotah Russet selections were up from 1,116 acres in 2019 to 1,210 acres in 2020.
- Standard Norkotah acreage remains very low and now accounts for only 39 acres.
Norland and Dark Red Norland are the most widely grown colored varieties in Montana but are down from 110 acres combined in 2019 to 88 acres in 2020.
Chip varieties including Atlantic, Snowden and Lamoka represent a small portion of Montana’s acreage at 123 acres which is up from 99 acres in 2019. A total of 62 varieties are registered for certification.
The Montana Seed Potato Seminar, which is held the second week of November each year, was canceled due to COVID-19. Growers will hold their annual Montana Improvement Association meeting online on Nov. 10. Our 2021 Seminar is scheduled for Nov. 9-11 in Missoula. We look forward to gathering together then and taking the opportunity to learn more about the industry and showcase Montana seed potatoes. — Nina Zidack, director, Montana State University Seed Potato Certification program
In 2020, Oregon Seed Certification Service (OSCS) certified 2,977 acres of seed potatoes — about 200 acres higher than our 10-year average — and 300 acres more than 2019.
No lots entered for certification this year were rejected by OSCS (as per the field inspections) though several lots were withdrawn by the growers for poor stands or nematode finds at harvest. A few lots were downgraded due to not meeting isolation requirements for the class produced. Summer field readings for disease were again low in 2020. Only trace amounts of mosaic, blackleg and chemical injury were reported by inspectors.
Planting and early growing conditions were near ideal this year, but very hot temperatures and high winds in some areas in late August and early September may have reduced yields somewhat, especially where any water-related problems arose. Harvest conditions are near ideal in most areas and harvest is proceeding with little to report other than an occasional pink rot, soft rot, or scab. Sizing profiles are falling on the smaller side, for the most part. The extensive wildfires reported in Oregon were not in any of our seed-producing areas, however, they did experience several weeks of smoke, at times intense, and most highways over the Cascades were closed.
The No. 1 single variety produced in Oregon this year was Ciklamen at 269 acres, a red skin, white flesh variety sold into the fresh market. Clearwater Russet, Lamoka and Gala, as well as several Frito-Lay varieties were also at the top of the listings. A complete listing of the varieties and acres produced in Oregon, as well as more detail on the field readings, can be found at seedcert.oregonstate.edu/potatoes under “Seed Report and Directory of Growers” and “Oregon Certified Seed Potato Field Readings and Statistics.”
Oregon made several important changes to its Potato Standards in 2020. The first thing is that we now follow of the national trend by aborting the “Generation” terminology (i.e., G1, G2, G3, etc.) and adopting the “Field Year” terminology (i.e., FY1, FY2, FY3, etc.). The current terminology used by all U.S. states and Canada can be found at ‘PAA Limited Generation Terminology Table at seedcert.oregonstate.edu/potato-certification-national-level.
The second OSCS change in 2020 is that Winter Grow-Out readings will be used solely as a basis for determining a seed lot’s eligibility for re-certification, and no longer used for downgrading lots. More information on OSCS Standards and policies can be found on the website noted in the previous paragraph. — Jeff McMorran, Oregon Seed Certification Service
A total of 3,526 acres of seed potatoes were entered for certification during the 2020 growing season, a 44-acre decrease from last year.
The four varieties grown were:
- Ciklamen — 511 acres
- Chieftain — 341 acres
- Russet Burbank — 263 acres
- 907-15 — 245 acres
The total acres planted include 135 different potato varieties ranging in size from partial acre plots to 110-acre fields. Most seed lots are less than 20 acres in size and include numbered clones, table stock, processing and heirloom variety potatoes. This year saw 465 individual seed lots entered for certification from eight farms.
Washington’s climate provided an ideal growing condition this season. Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) staff noted that late blight and blackleg disease pressure were slight to non-existent.
Harvest began the second week of September, with weather being dry. Harvest should be wrapped up by late October. Above-average yields with generally good quality, size and condition of seed lots going into storage. Seed shipments to southern climates will begin in late fall and will continue into the winter months, with the majority of seed to be shipped in early spring.
Washington State Certified seed growers are in the process of submitting seed lot samples for the postharvest test. — Benita Matheson, Plant Services Supervisor