Variety development for the fresh potato market in Western Australia 2005-06 (PT05017)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
The project aimed to improve productivity of the WA fresh, or ware, potato industry through the development of improved varieties. The varieties were developed by screening, under WA conditions, breeding lines from the Department of Primary Industries, Victorian, Agriculture and Food Potato Breeding Program (DPIVAF-PBP).
Fresh market variety evaluation was a priority of the Australian potato industry and was overseen by the National Evaluation & Commercialisation Committee for the Fresh Potato Breeding Program (FNECC). The WA industry priority the researcher had addressed over the previous four years had been the improvement of the performance of winter crops. The yield of these crops was just 60 per cent of the overall average yield for fresh market potatoes in WA. The reduced yield was due to many factors which included storm and wind damage, heavy rain, frost, low temperatures, short days and lack of sunshine. White Star, an improved winter variety identified and developed through this and related projects, could now be considered a commercial variety in WA after its addition to the Potato Marketing Corporation of WA’s Preferred Variety List. Therefore the project could now address other issues that could be solved through appropriate variety development. The new challenge would be a variety for summer production to complement the current standard Nadine. This variety would require the cosmetic appeal of Nadine along with its tolerance to blemish diseases and after-cooking-darkening (ACD) but with improved culinary versatility.
The new fresh market variety, White Star, offered improved pack-out, tuber size, disease tolerance and culinary quality. It was a good example of the benefits improved varieties could provide. White Star had much higher starch level than Nadine and produced a higher yield of large tubers which would help overcome the excess winter production of small potatoes. These improvements benefited farmers and consumers alike. A Benefit Cost Analysis shows a 12.6 benefit cost ratio indicating this, and previous projects, had provided a significant return on investment for the WA potato industry. The analysis showed that the discounted incremental benefit of this project (discounted benefits less discounted costs) over a 15 year period equalled a net present value (NPV) of $3.4 M. This strongly positive NPV indicated that there were net returns to the State from investing in this series of projects.
The advanced breeding lines Auski and Billabong were tested on a commercial scale for the second time. These varieties may have offered an alternative to summer production of Delaware with improved appearance over Delaware and superior cooking quality to Nadine. This year’s tests showed that Billabong needed to be tested further while Auski’s testing needed to cease as it was shown to be too susceptible to blemish disease.
Improved potato varieties adapted to local conditions could be produced through this local selection program based on Australian bred potato varieties.
Future work needed to be aimed at developing a variety suitable for the major summer production areas to complement.
Growers of winter crops on the Swan Coastal Plain needed to test White Star to see whether the researcher's claims of improved yield, pack-out, profits and customer satisfaction held true under their consitions.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of APC and the potato industry.
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