New Aussie grown spuds on the way to market - Elders Rural Services
Elders cattle farm horses

New Aussie grown spuds on the way to market

From its modest beginnings in the Andean Mountains several thousand years ago, the potato has become an essential food source – and today over 8,000 varieties of potatoes are grown in over 130 countries around the world.

Elders has been selling potato seeds for over 16 years and supply about 20 per cent of seed potatoes for the fresh market per year. The company has a strong pipeline with 18 new varieties available over the next two years.

A potato variety assessment trial conducted in Parilla, South Australia during 2014/2015 revealed several new varieties.

Planted in August 2014 and harvested in January 2015, the Parilla trial included 24 entries of open and protected varieties.

The focus of the trial was on fresh market application, which requires varieties with a smooth skin finish, low to medium dry matter content and cream to yellow skins and flesh. Elders National Manager for Potatoes Rene de Jong said the successful Parilla trial provided an important comparison of the genetic potential of varieties, especially in relation to skin finish.

“Of the 24 varieties included in the trial, the standout was Lanorma – a recently imported Dutch variety – with great overall scores for yield, skin finish, appropriate light yellow flesh and great cooking quality,” Mr de Jong said.

New options

A number of varieties in the trial satisfed overall high yield potential, high skin finish, appropriate flesh colour and good cooking, including Kestrel, Daisy and Cabaret. Some varieties are currently licensed for the exclusive use of other growers and can be accessed with permission of the licensed grower/packer.

Some of the other new varieties in the Parilla trial included Marguerite, a locally bred potato from Agriculture Victoria Services. It has all the attributes for high yield, skin finish and a smooth, sweet white flesh, which has appeal in selected markets. Laperla,a light yellow fleshed variety was also in the top five yielding potatoes in the trial with acceptable skin finish for the wash market.

“While Laperla’s cooking quality was at the lower end in the trial, previous taste-testing showed it to be a popular choice as a roasted potato sample (olive oil and salt) with sweet, soft flesh. This variety has a quick growing cycle and bulks up well from modest tuber setting,” Mr de Jong said.

In addition, both Friar and Excalibur have good market attributes. Friar has a light yellow flesh, good skin finish and excellent cooking properties, while Excalibur is a cream fleshed variety that also has excellent cooking attributes.

“It is an exciting time in the potato industry in Australia with many new varieties – with high yield potential, high skin finish, appropriate flesh colour and good cooking – on their way to market,” Mr de Jong said.

Promoting potatoes

Accredited dietician Dr Trent Watson discusses in his 2008 Potato Nutrition Report a mistaken perception that starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, should be restricted from Australian diets.

In the report, Dr Watson explains that potatoes are well placed to play a role in healthy diets as they can assist in the prevention and management of chronic disease, are a good source of bre, low in fat and high in potassium – in fact, spuds have more potassium than bananas.

In light of this, Mr de Jong encourages growers and members of the potato industry to help educate consumers about how good potatoes are in a healthy diet.

“I challenge everyone to start the conversation and all do our part in helping to dispel the myths around potatoes and carbohydrates being ‘bad’ for us,” Mr de Jong said.

“Let’s share the good story of all the health benefits of fresh, Australian grown potatoes and help grow a healthy Australia.”