How the russet reached its status


19 March 2021
Carrie Huffman Wohleb of Growing Produce examines history

ALTHOUGH it wasn’t an immediate success, the ‘Russet Burbank’ cultivar now accounts for about 40% of the U.S. potato acreage. It originates from a seed collected from an ‘Early Rose’ potato plant that Luther Burbank planted in 1872, reveals Carrie Huffman Wohleb in Growing Produce.

Looking into how the most popular potato in the US reached its status, Carrie reveals that many decades later, a natural genetic mutant (a chimera) of the original Burbank with russet skin became the Russet Burbank we know today.

Russet Burbank is a dual-purpose potato — suitable for both fresh and processing markets — and widely accepted by consumers. You can store it for many months before use, which allows for year-round distribution and processing. This may be the strongest attribute of Russet Burbank and is one that few other russet-type cultivars have been able to match.

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To read the full feature click here. Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, shows breeder Rich Novy (background) and retired plant pathologist Dennis Corsini are harvesting tubers of experimental potato selections.