Potato Bytes 06.21.2022
News from the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Serving the potato industry in
North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota.
NDSU Develops Potato Variety Now Approved for McDonald’s World Famous Fries

The most recent potato variety to join the list of approved McDonald’s potato varieties is the Dakota Russet, developed at North Dakota State University by Asunta "Susie" Thompson (photo), associate professor of plant science and potato breeder.

The Dakota Russet has uniform, blocky tubers, creamy white flesh and golden russet skin that is well suited for fry applications. The variety produces low sugars, which results in consistent French fry color and less undesired defects like dark ends. Improved fry texture consistency can be attributed to the potatoes’ high specific gravity and consistent internal dry matter distribution (solids).

“This is a dream come true,” Thompson said. “Having our russet accepted by McDonald’s for their French fries is the gold standard we all strive for. Cultivar development takes a team and this difficult achievement would not have been possible without support from the NDSU potato improvement team, potato farmers and agriculture partners. My goal since returning to NDSU in 2001 was to identify superior cultivars across market types. I focused on earlier maturity which would allow greater opportunity for economic and environmental sustainability for our farmers, while helping address the global challenge of feeding the world.”

The cross (traditional hybridization) was made in 1999 and Thompson selected the seedling in the single-hill nursery in fall 2001. The variety was officially named and released in 2012. The approval process for the Dakota Russet to be accepted by McDonald’s was completed in March 2022. The Dakota Russet is one of eight varieties accepted in North America. The most recent additions to the McDonald’s North American varieties were in 2016.

“Our world-famous fries always start with our potatoes. We couldn’t be more excited to introduce Dakota Russet to our quality group of potato varieties used to produce them,” said Daniel Roche, McDonald’s global quality system manager, agricultural products. “We spend years testing new potato varieties before they are introduced to our suppliers and restaurants – including rigorous testing for quality, sensory and consumer validation – to ensure all the potatoes we use meet our high standards. The Dakota Russet has delivered a great appearance, flavor and texture – producing the same great taste our customers love.”

The Dakota Russet was developed with the needs of Midwest farmers in mind, producing consistently high yields and fitting the shorter growing season with its medium maturity. The variety also thrives in a wide range of climatic conditions. It is extremely resilient, demonstrating resistance to several of the common diseases typically present in potatoes.

“The excellent and consistent agronomic and processing performances of Dakota Russet is exactly the kind of quality potato McDonald’s looks to use, prompting us to pursue approval,” said Tina Brandt, variety development manager at J.R. Simplot Company.
“Based on national testing and grower evaluation, the Dakota Russet is widely adapted across North America,” said Carl Hoverson of Hoverson Farms, and partner with Ron Offutt and R.D. Offutt Farms. “It also thrives during a shorter growing season, which is important with the variable weather conditions we experience here in the Midwest. With this variety we are able to consistently obtain an excellent fry quality.”

The highly successful traits of this variety help to improve agronomic sustainability by producing more quality potatoes per acre.

“The development of the Dakota Russet, and its acceptance from McDonald’s as a potato variety speaks to the innovative research happening here at NDSU,” NDSU President David Cook said. “Our talented researchers work hard to contribute to the success of our state and the world.”

The Dakota Russet has begun rolling out to McDonald’s suppliers, where they are peeled, cut and prepared for restaurants to turn into the same hot, crispy fries McDonald’s customers love.

  • Story source: Brynn Rawlings, NDSU University News
  • NPPGA file photo
USDA Potato Progress & Condition Report

Because of the Federal holiday yesterday, the latest Crop Progress and Condition Report will not be available until later today, however we can expect potato planting to be very near completion in the region.

Last week's (June 20th) Crop Progress & Condition Report for all crops: ND - MN
U.S. Potato Stocks Down 4 Percent Compared to One Year Ago

Potato States held 54.0 million cwt (hundredweight) in storage on June 1, 2022, down 4% from June 1, 2021. Potatoes in storage accounted for 13% of the States' 2021 production, the same as a year earlier. The indicated potato disappearance, at 356 million cwt, was down 2% from the same period last year. Season to date shrink and loss, at 23.2 million cwt, was 5% higher than the same time last year. Processors in the 8 States used 195 million cwt of potatoes for the season, up 4 percent from June 2021.

NORTH DAKOTA - North Dakota held 3 million cwt on June 1, that is 14% of the 2021 crop and 600,000 cwt more than one year ago.

MINNESOTA - Minnesota has 4.2 million potatoes in storage, or 23% of the 2021 crop. Last year that number was 2.1 million and just 12% of the 2020 crop.

To read the complete U.S. June 1 Potato Production & Stocks Report, click here.
USDA Announces Assistance for On-Farm Food Safety Expenses for Specialty Crop Growers 

New Program Part of Broader Effort to Transform Food System, Create Jobs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (photo) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide up to $200 million in assistance for specialty crop producers who incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to obtain or renew a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023. USDA’s new Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program will help to offset costs for specialty crop producers to comply with regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certification requirements, which is part of USDA’s broader effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.

Specialty crop operations can apply for assistance for eligible expenses related to a 2022 food safety certificate issued on or after June 21, 2022, beginning June 27, 2022. USDA is delivering FSCSC to provide critical assistance for specialty crop operations, with an emphasis on equity in program delivery while building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. Vilsack made the announcement from Hollis, N.H., where he toured a local, family-owned farm and highlighted USDA’s efforts to help reduce costs for farmers and support local economies by providing significant funding to cut regulatory costs and increase market opportunities for farmers in New Hampshire and across the nation.
For the full press release, click here.

No NPC Report This Week
With the NPC team in Tennessee for the Summer Meeting, there will be no Eye on DC this week. The NPC will provide a review of the 2022 Summer Meeting and an update of all things potato-policy related in next week's newsletter. 
Potato Bytes Landmark Trivia
Last Week's Famous Landmark

Last week's Trivia landmark was the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall was built in different periods of time to protect China from outside enemies. The earliest walls were built as far back as the 7th century BC. The best-known sections of the wall were built by the Ming Dynasty (1398-1644 AD).

It was identified correctly by Karen Radke. Brett Miller, Keith Bjorneby, Vicky Boyd, Dorothy Viker, Dan Monson, Carla Vigen, James Staricka, Butch Kraska, Darcy Blazek, Geoff Price, Todd Forbush, James Troyer and Chris Holmes.

Name this Famous Landmark

Send your answer in by clicking on the red tab below.

All those answering correctly will be recognized in the next Potato Bytes.

Potato & Steak Kabobs

Grilled russet potatoes and steak covered in a fresh chimichurri sauce.

Potato Type: Russet
Cuisine: American
Dish: Appetizer, Main Dish

Get one delicious, potato recipe delivered to you each week. You’ll always have new, tasty ideas to surprise and delight your family and friends—even on a busy weeknight. Sign up
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