May 30, 2016
PVMI reaches 10-year milestone

The Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI) recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. In 2005 the Washington, Idaho and Oregon potato commissions developed PVMI as a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) to handle licensing and royalty collections on potato varieties developed by the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program.

PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons has led the organization since its inception. She said that developing PVMI as a center for new potato varieties in the tri-state region has been a slow, evolutionary process.

Over the 10 years we’ve developed a pretty comprehensive website with lots of information about all the varieties as well as an index and an ability to find out all the seed growers of each variety,” she said in this video.

Debons said that PVMI serves as a bridge between the potato industry and the researchers.

“My job is to promote the new varieties and then collect royalties and licensing fees from seed growers,” Debons said. To that purpose she spends the month of January at winter conferences promoting PVMI.

From China to Turkey to India and Australia, PVMI potatoes have been trialed around the world. “It’s very exciting to be in this job and get the opportunity to show how good the potato varieties that come out of this program are,” she said.

Bill Brewer, executive director of the Oregon Potato Commission, praised PVMI’s leadership and the organization’s ability to collect licensing fees and royalties to help fund variety research.

“Those monies are being used for future development,” Brewer said. “Without PVMI it would really be difficult for the universities to be able to set up a program like this and get acceptance in the grower community.”

Debons said that PVMI has returned more than $2 million to the Tri-State breeding programs.

“This past year (2015) we returned $536,000 to the universities and they use that to give back to their research programs,” she said. “It’s a great way to use the value of the new potato varieties that the growers get and plow it back into the program so research can continue.”

Jeff Stark, research professor and director of the potato variety development program for the University of Idaho, said that PVMI has expanded the reach of the marketing effort for the tri-state breeding program.

“We have varieties that are being grown all over the world as a result of PMVI’s marketing efforts,” Stark said.

“We’ve really turned the corner in the industry in the last 10 years in terms of acceptance of new varieties,” he said. “For a long time it was Russet Burbank and maybe Ranger and not much else. Now there’s a much greater openness amongst people in the industry to accept or evaluate and adopt new varieties. That’s been a big change and PVMI has contributed to that.”

Idaho potato grower Jeff Harper of Mountain Home has been on PVMI’s board of directors for the past seven years. He said that tri-state variety development is becoming self-funding because of PVMI.

“PVMI, in my opinion, came along just as the universities, well, at least the one in Idaho, got tight for cash and we’re able to start collecting the royalties and get them back to the university so they had some money for varieties,” Harper said.

Prior to PVMI the universities were not collecting royalties for new varieties, he said.

In this video Debons discusses some of PVMI’s newest varieties, including Huckleberry Gold, Smiling Eyes and Payette Russet.

“Payette Russet is a very exciting, new processing potato,” Debons said. “It’s been number one in the national fry tests for several years. It’s very low acrylamides, it’s totally immume to PVY as well as late blight resistant. It’s a real excellent potato, large yields, very good storage characteristics.”

She said that some quick service restaurants have already expressed interest in Payette Russet.

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