12 September 1997

Plenty of scope for the specialist

DEMAND for some value added niche market potatoes is so strong it can only be met by imports. That gives an ideal opportunity for specialist producers, provided the right varieties are grown. So says Ronnie Reiss of Dutch potato co-op, Agrico. "They have to be targeted specifically at market specifications, so it is a case of horses for courses. For organic production, for example, he advocates Provento, a low input type, with good disease resistances. It is not a particularly pretty variety, but it is robust and high yielding."

It is claimed to have almost total resistance to the main potato viruses, and good levels of blight and common scab resistance.

Another specialist market is for salad potatoes. There is scope for more domestic production to replace imports, particularly if the crop can be stored."

Agricos new salad variety Lyra suits long-term storage. It is a second early/early maincrop which produces small, yellow skinned, long oval tubers. These have low dry matters, a firm cooking texture, and are claimed to eat well.

Another new candidate from Agrico targeted at the red skinned supermarket trade is coded 89-2525. It offers an alternative to the difficult to grow Desiree and Romano which supermarkets are reluctant to take, he says.n

Provento is one variety which is well suited to organic production, says Agricos Ronnie Reiss.