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Potato breeder leaves mark on industry

<em>Edit News</em> Potato breeder leaves mark on industry
December 17, 2013
Nearly 14 years after Joseph Pavek’s retirement from potato breeding, new and improved spud varieties still bear his fingerprints.

While reading about new releases from the Oregon State University potato breeding program, Pavek noticed many of them utilized his germplasm as parents.

During a career spanning more than three decades with the USDA’s Aberdeen Agricultural Research Service, Pavek, who turns 86 in October, also bred a potato variety that still ranks third in U.S. fall acreage. In 2012, his Ranger Russet represented 12.2 percent of Idaho’s total plantings and 9.4 percent of the national acreage, behind Russet Burbank and Russet Norkotah.

“I think he’s made a tremendous contribution. There are a bunch of growers and processors who have made money on Ranger Russets,” said Phil Nolte, a University of Idaho Extension potato disease pathologist.

Nolte is impressed that Pavek also published 18 papers in the American Journal of Potato Research, served as a past president of the Potato Association of America and won the National Potato Council’s researcher of the year award in 1989.

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The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency. The ARS mission is to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day, from field to table.