Chris Voigt, executive Director of the Washington state Potato Commission, says consumers may not realize how important research and Development is for local growers. Voigt said early on, research focused on fighting pests and helping potato thrive on the Columbia Basin. But he added recently, their ultimate goal to produce a better product for consumers.
“So we’re actually producing about 140,000 potato varieties every single year. But we’ve got to figure out, OK, they’re all genetically different, which one is the best one out of these 140,000. So, we’ve got to see, are they a nice smooth shape, do they have a shallow eye?”
Voigt said thanks to many great partnerships, they have made many great strides that normally would have taken years to accomplish. He said research taking place in Prosser, between WSU researchers and ARS researchers is a great asset for Washington growers.
“They are doing great work looking at phytochemicals in potatoes. The antioxidant content, and they’ve come up with some great results. They’ve shown that all potatoes have hi antioxidant contents, but when you start getting into the purple varieties, the yellow varieties, boy just fabulous antioxidant continent. And antioxidant content is important because it can help prevent cancer.”
Voigt says R&D over the decades has helped the Northwest become one of the best potato producing areas around.
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