A bevy of Cornell bred potatoes are featured in an Oct. 13 article in the New York Times. (See Stand Back, Yukon Gold: There’s a New Potato in Town.)
Researchers at Cornell University developed them, along with about a dozen varieties that grow well in New York and have flavors that rival the most popular potatoes in the United States.
So growing Keukas here is a no-brainer? Cornell can only wish. Despite the problems, New York farmers continue to grow what their fathers grew and what consumers demand — the heavily marketed Yukons and familiar baking potatoes like russets — and most chefs prefer cheap potatoes shipped in bulk from the Pacific Northwest or Canada.
“We have to educate ourselves and then educate the consumer,” [Orange County Farmer Cheryl] … Rogowski said.
John Mishanec, an agricultural specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, has become something of an evangelist for Cornell-bred potatoes.
“You wouldn’t think of buying an apple without knowing what variety it is,” Mr. Mishanec said. “What I thought we should do is let’s evaluate the New York varieties, figure out what does what well and then market them that way.”
In 1904 New York State grew 435,000 acres of potatoes. This year there are about 17,000 acres, most of them planted with starchy varieties by large growers in western New York who mainly supply potato chip makers.
But potatoes are gaining popularity at farmers’ markets and farm stands in eastern New York, Mr. Mishanec’s territory. Many are varieties Cornell has released in the last 15 years. In addition to Keukas, they include another firm yellow potato, the Lehigh; Adirondack Reds and Blues; and two white varieties, Salem and Eva.
Visit the Cornell Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website for descriptions and seed potato sources for these and other varieties: