Michigan State University’s purple potatoes promote partnership


Hi. My name is Dave Douches and I’m at
Michigan State University and here they call me the potato professor. My team
that’s part of the MSU potato breeding and genetics program has developed
nearly 30 potato varieties. Our newest variety is the Blackberry potato. The
Blackberry potato is a small round spud that fits in the palm of your hand and
has a deep purple flesh on the inside and a deep purple skin on the outside. It
took 20 years to create this through conventional breeding and crossing and
selection here at the University. This means we now have a new, tasty potato
variety that’s also high in antioxidants which we refer to as anthocyanins. So
these antioxidants are healthy for the consumers. Also, the potato is healthy for
the farmer because it’s disease resistant to the scab disease that they
face in their fields. I always saw there was a need in the market for a good
purple pigmented variety of potato. The current varieties are long, don’t have a
really deep purple flesh and are disease susceptible. It’s visually appealing to
the consumer and something different but tastes similar to your standard potato
varieties. We wanted to get the Blackberry potato to the commercial
industry. We’ve partnered with the Great Lakes Potato Chip Company in Traverse
City to process purple potato chips made from the Blackberry potato. These chips
will be available for a limited time this fall to celebrate Great Lakes 10-
Year anniversary. Right now, the potato is in the commercial discovery phase. Word
is getting out and people will try it. Farmers are testing it out and seeing if
it’s working and will start building up our potato stocks. Creating new varieties
of potato, creates new economic opportunities and helps to feed more
people. When we’re able to create a variety that has an impact on the
industry that’s really what it’s all about.

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