15 August 1997

Spuds aplenty from Scotland

FOUR new potato varieties are continuing to please scientists and commercial plant breeders alike in Scotland.

The four first appeared last year and were bred at the Scottish Crop Research Institute and developed in a joint programme with Nickerson Seeds.

David Coombs, technical manager at the Nickerson potato research and development centre near Forfar, is most enthusiastic about Spey, a long, oval, white maincrop, which was developed for the frozen chip market.

"We have 1000t of Spey seed going to McCains for next year and we have had the bonus of NIAB also recommending it for general use because of its cooking quality," he says.

Claret is a red maincrop, which, he hopes, will replace Desiree on the supermarket lists. "It is a very clean potato and does not have the scab problems associated with Desiree."

Kirrie is a second early coming to harvest after Bard and before Estima. Othello, which is a cross between Croft and Cara, is aimed at export markets in the Mediterranean.

"It has been the top variety on trial in Israel this year and could provide a lucrative export trade. At the moment, Desiree is our main export variety but with no variety protection it is sold as a commodity. The future has to be controlled varieties and profitable marketing."n

Spuds to make you smile… Dr Finlay (left) of SCRI and Dr David Coombes of Nickerson launch four new UK-bred varieities.