Potato Variety Development and Improvement in the Northwest

The Northwest Potato Variety Development Program is unique among potato breeding programs with regard to its history, organization, objectives and operation. It is a critical program in that it serves an area that produces more than half of all US potatoes and provides the majority of potato exports. It was started in 1985 as a direct result of industry lobbying. At that time, a progressive USDA/ARS breeding programs were in place at Aberdeen, Idaho and Prosser, Washington. Industry representatives felt that funding levels and lack of personnel resources limited the USDA’s ability to address some aspects of variety development research. The original intent of stakeholders was to build an umbrella over the ARS program, allowing it to concentrate on basic genetics and germplasm development, while instituting an applied research effort that would allow smooth delivery of new varieties to the Northwest industry.

The Northwest program led to a research effort that crossed state and institutional boundaries and became the epitome of the cooperative research visualized by the writers of the original Farm Bill. The level of stakeholder involvement in the program is unusually high, with continuous direction provided by representatives from all elements of the Northwest potato industry. An Administrative Committee made up of industry, USDA, and university personnel directs researchers in setting goals, assigning resources, and coordinating research. This administrative committee consists of fourteen members, six from industry, six from northwest universities, and two from the USDA/ARS. The presence of industry representatives on the committee ensures that research objectives of the Northwest program have a direct impact on industry concerns.

The Northwest program incorporates federal, university, and industry research elements. The ARS breeding program is the core of the project and does most of the basic breeding, incorporates improved germplasm from other ARS and state programs, does additional pre-breeding, and provides most of the true seed for the variety development effort. The state universities cooperate where feasible with germplasm production and improvement, provide additional seedling production, cooperatively complete seedling selection and evaluation, provide initial seed production, complete management research, implement advanced field and laboratory evaluations, and complete all aspects of commercialization. The industry provides large-scale evaluation, seed production beyond the initial stages, collaboration in commercialization, and additional financial support. The overall result is unparalleled cooperation and efficiency, with each institution completing the duties for which it is best equipped.

The University of Idaho is the lead institution on this special grant. The USDA notifies Idaho, Washington and Oregon of the availability of funds in November/December. Idaho requests research information from both Washington and Oregon and submits a proposal to the USDA in January. Washington and Oregon receive a subcontract from Idaho on this grant. Currently, Oregon has four branch stations and one department with active projects from this grant.

Title - Potato Variety Development and Improvement in the Northwest

This is a tri-state research grant with Washington and Idaho

PI - Isabel Vales, Associate Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences

OSU Representative - Isabel Vales

Potato Variety Website: http://oregonstate.edu/potatoes/variety.htm

For more Information please contact:
Isabel Vales
Oregon State University
421 Crop Science Building
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone - 541-737-5835
Fax - 541-737-1334

Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station
224 Bexell Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331- 8521
541-737-4251, Contact Us