The red norland remains the predominant potato variety coming out of the Red River Valley, with the North Dakota-developed russet norkota being the standard brown-skinned spud, but other varieties are constantly being tested.
“They’re experimenting all the time,” said Steve Tweten, president and chief executive officer of Buxton, N.D.-based NoKota Packers.
Grand Forks, N.D.-based Associated Potato Growers Inc. offers a yukons, along with other yellow-flesh yellows, said Paul Dolan, president.
“As far as the red-yellows, we haven’t had much success with those up to this time, but I know they are being promoted,” he said.
A new variety looms on the horizon, according to Ted Kreis, marketing director with the East Grand Forks, Minn.-based Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.
“There’s one red variety that’s very promising from North Dakota State University. It is still just a numbered variety, but we expect it to be named in the next year or two,” he said.
The new variety features “a bright-red flesh” and eyes that aren’t as deep, which facilitates kitchen preparation, Kreis said.
“Usually, when a new variety comes out, it starts with just a few acres the first year, and that number multiplies rapidly until it goes into commercial production,” Kreis said.
New-variety development comes at a slow pace, said Dave Moquist, a partner in and sales manager of O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc., Crystal, N.D. But, he said, it can be well worth the wait.
“That all pays dividends to all of us as growers,” he said.
Dennis Magnell, a partner in Trail, Minn.-based Peatland Reds Inc., said he has had success with norlands, but also the Dakota Rose variety, which has red skin and white flesh.
“This is the only place you can raise them. The peat soil is good for them,” he said, drawing a contrast between the peat soil with the muck soil found commonly in the Red River Valley.
The Milva variety, a spud with European origins that features yellow flesh and clean yellow skin, is featured at Cogswell, N.D.-based Heimbuch Potatoes, said Chad Heimbuch, president and sales manager.
“The thing with the yellows is everybody wants a perfectly clear skin because the clearer the skin, the more access to East Coast markets,” he said.