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CSU Potatoes Good Enough for a President

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If you are developing varieties of potatoes for a living, you would think that the highest honor you could receive is a thumbs up from an eater, think again. How about having the White House plant your potatoes in their garden! That’s exactly what happened to David “Spudmaker” Holm and the CSU horticulture department. 

Five potato varieties developed by Colorado State University were planted in the White House garden, three of which were developed by Holm.

  • Sangre, a flavorful red-skinned potato with good boiling and baking qualities. It is known to store well and is named for the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
  • Canela Russet, a russet that is great for baking. Its name, in Spanish, means “cinnamon,” a reference to its skin color
  • Mountain Rose, a specialty potato with red skin and pigmented, light-red flesh. It is high in healthful antioxidants.

All of the potato varieties are available to home gardeners during the spring planting season.

It takes 14 years to develop a new potato variety through the process of crossbreeding, growing and selecting for desirable traits, then identifying, evaluating and certifying the new cultivar. CSU’s San Luis Valley Research Center, with a potato team of seven people, develops varieties through traditional plant breeding; these potatoes are not genetically modified.

The CSU research team, formally called the Colorado Potato Breeding and Selection Program, works closely with farmers to develop and test successful varieties, said Holm, the project leader. The Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, representing growers, supports CSU potato research to the tune of about $250,000 a year. This alliance provides critical support for CSU research innovations, and delivers both new knowledge, and new cultivators, that help the Colorado potato industry to thrive.

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