Italian potato soup. Blazer Russet tubers are
suitable for frozen potato products or fresh-market sale. Photo courtesy
United States Potato Board.
Blazer Russet Potato Wins Top Reviews
By Marcia Wood
August 8, 2006
Versatile and delicious, Blazer Russet
potato is one of the newest graduates of the potato-breeding program of
university and Agricultural Research
Service scientists in the Pacific and Intermountain West. This potato is
well-suited for fresh-market sale or for potato processors to make into frozen
The oblong, medium-to-large Blazer Russet tubers each average about 7 to 8
ounces. They have the characteristic light netting, called russeting, on their
brown-to-tan skin, with firm, cream-white or white flesh inside.
Potato growers and processors in western states worked with ARS potato
breeders and their University of
Idaho, Washington State University and
Oregon State University colleagues to put
the tuber through nearly two decades of rigorous laboratory, field and
test-kitchen scrutiny before the decision was made in December 2005 to make
this experimental potato a named variety. Until that time, Blazer Russet was
known simply by its breeder number, A8893-1.
According to ARS potato breeder and plant geneticist
G. Novy, potato processors are viewing Blazer Russet as a promising
replacement for Shepody, a potato that is widely grown in the United States.
Both Blazer Russet and Shepody are ready to harvest earlier than other
leading potatoes, meaning that the two russets can replenish dwindling supplies
of potatoes remaining in cold storage from the previous harvest. But Blazer
Russet provides higher yields of premium potatoes, known as U.S. No. 1, than
Shepody, according to Novy. He is based at the
Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, Idaho.
ARS scientists Dennis L. Corsini and Joseph J. Pavek, both now retired,
selected the parent potatoes for today's Blazer Russet in 1988. In tests that
followed, Blazer Russet plants typically outproduced even America's potato
idol, Russet Burbank.
Blazer Russet is one of a series of superior potatoes from a regional
collaboration among ARS and university scientists known as the
Potato Variety Development Program.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.