Talk of the Towns

One Potato, Two Potato

Photo: Courtesy Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications

Orono and Presque Isle: Two new potato varieties will make their debut this year. Developed by the Maine Potato Board and the University of Maine, the Easton and Sebec are the first two varieties to be released by UMaine in 10 years.

The Easton is a new french fry processing potato variety, and the Sebec was created for potato chip production. Field studies showed that the Easton has a higher yield than the standard french fry processing variety—the Russet Burbank—and that it produces a lighter colored fry. The Sebec was found to be high yielding and produces a good quality potato chip right from the field.

“Potatoes are bred for a multitude of characteristics. Everything, from disease resistance to improved fry color,” says Tim Hobbs, director of development and grower relations for the Maine Potato Board. “To get the right combination of characteristics in one variety takes a large investment in time and resources. Eventually, this investment pays off.”

Both varieties have been in the works for more than a decade. “There are currently several other varieties we are evaluating for release over the next few years,” says Kris Burton from the Department of Industrial Cooperation at UMaine. “Working closely with the [Maine Potato] Board allows us to commercialize the best varieties to support the Maine potato industry and further research in the field.”

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