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Potato Research Summary

Among the more significant and measurable impacts of potato research conducted at the SLVRC has been that of new potato cultivar development. Potato cultivars released by CSU include: Centennial Russet (1976), Sangre (1982), Ute Russet (1986), Russet Nugget (1988), and Chipeta (1993). In 1995, 42.8% of the Colorado certified seed acreage accepted was represented by cultivars developed by CSU or in cooperation with other agencies. Advanced selections in various stages of development accounted for another 6.3% of the seed acreage. Three CSU developed cultivars represented 51.3% of the fall potato acreage planted in 1995. Another 2.8% of the fall acreage was accounted for by Ranger Russet, a cultivar that CSU cooperated in the release of . Colorado has a higher percentage of its commercial acreage devoted to cultivars developed locally than any other state.

In 1993 a new $233,000 state-of-the-art greenhouse facility was constructed and dedicated to the development of new potato cultivars. This project was totally funded by the San Luis Valley potato industry.

The San Luis Valley Aphid Suppression and Monitoring Program is one of the most successful programs of its type in the United States. The ability to adequately control over-wintering green peach aphids on host trees, coupled with current, up-to-date monitoring techniques and other components such as resistant cultivars, field insect control, roguing efforts and eradication of the host trees has resulted in very low levels of seed lot rejection due to potato leafroll virus in the certified seed program.

Early blight is another disease which can significantly limit potato yields. It is also one of the easiest to control if a spray program is properly timed. The proper timing of sprays is based on extensive research conducted during the mid-1960\’s and early 1970\’s. Data generated by this research were used in the early 1980\’s to develop a degree day model for predicting the first spore movements of Alternaria solani. By properly using this model, a grower can reduce both the number of sprays needed on the potato crop and the impact of the disease.

Two other significant examples of programs that have benefited the San Luis Valley involve research on the potato blackleg disease and a counterpart program of tissue culture seed propagation. These research efforts prompted the establishment of a limited generation certified seed potato program. This program ensures that all seed potato stocks are derived from laboratory tested material to ensure freedom from potato diseases. This translates into improved yield potential and seed quality. Furthermore, these programs led to the construction, in 1986, of a $250,000 laboratory — totally financed by the Colorado Certified Potato Growers\’ Association and dedicated to providing disease testing services and state of the art tissue culture propagation facilities. Disease content of Colorado certified seed potatoes has been significantly reduced since the limited generation program was initiated.

Additional research on fertilizer placement, irrigation timing, cultural practices, disease management, etc., has provided the basis for many of the recommendation followed by potato growers today.

These research projects have been instrumental in increasing yields and improving quality of the potato crop in the San Luis Valley. It is relevant to note that potato production in the San Luis Valley increased from 10.950 million cwt in 1980 to 25.795 million cwt in 1994 — a 136% increase! Since 1972, new fall potato crop production records were set in 18 of the last 23 years. Also, since 1972 fall crop potato yields have increased an average of 4 cwt/acre per year. During this same period, acreage has increased an average of 2,085 acres per year resulting in production increases of about 0.85 million cwt per year. The average value of the 1990-1994 fall potato crop was $43.7 million.

The following research programs to improve production and quality of Colorado potatoes are currently underway:

    • J. A. Maga
      • Potato Quality and Flavor Evaluations
    • R. D. Davidson
      • Potato Disease Studies
    • D. G. Holm
      • Potato Breeding and Selection
    • C. Stushnoff, D. G. Holm, and R. D. Davidson
      • Application of FTIR Spectroscopy to Identify Potato Cultivars
    • A. Thompson-Johns
      • Cultural and Physiological Studies
    • A. Thompson-Johns and S. Nissen
      • Metribuzin Sensitivity and Model Evaluation
    • R. D. Davidson, A. Thompson-Johns, and R. T. Zink
      • Control Strategies for Early Blight Tuber Decay
    • C. A. Ishimaru and N. Lapitan
      • Inncorpation of Bacterial Ring Rot Immunity into Potato
    • S. Nissen
      • Volatility Losses of Eptam
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