PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Move over Idaho’s Russet Burbank, there’s a new spud in town.
Destined for kitchens and backyard cookouts around the country, the cross between a Silverton Russet and a Reeves Kingpin is a “dual purpose russet skinned variety [that] has good baked and mashed quality for fresh market consumption and is also expected to be useful for processing markets,” according to information provided by the Maine Potato Board.
“Potatoes are bred for a multitude of characteristics, everything from disease resistance to improved fry color, said 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 [and] eventually this investment pays off.”
The board worked with Dr. Greg Porter at the University of Maine’s breeding program to develop the new tuber.
In addition to its baking and mashing properties, the new Caribou Russet is disease and nematode resistant.
“The university has the research and development capability and commitment for developing new potato varieties, from the lab to the field, which takes years,” said Don Flannery, Maine Potato Board executive director. “They understand what the growers and the industry are looking for and need [and] we in turn, have the capacity to promote the varieties and maintain the quality of seed required for the integrity of the variety and the market.”
Flannery said the potato board is already fielding questions from growers around the state and the country about the new variety.
The Caribou Russet has a light russeted skin and white flesh, according to the potato board, and is a large plant with a mid-season maturity and good yields.
It joins two other varieties developed by the university and unveiled last fall. The Easton and the Sebec varieties were the first new potatoes released by the university in more than a decade, according to an earlier Bangor Daily News article.
Anyone interested in obtaining a sublicense to grow Caribou Russet should contact the Maine Potato Board at 207-769-5061.