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Increasing International interest in PVMI Potato Varieties

Officials say Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program varieties are beginning to find their way into farm fields throughout the world.

A business in Quebec, Canada, has reached an agreement for the exclusive Canadian rights to the Tri-State fresh variety Pomerelle Russet, according to Jeanne Debons, executive director of the Potato Variety Management Institute, which markets the program’s spuds.

Furthermore, a German company is evaluating seven Tri-State russets and expanding seed, interested in securing exclusive European rights.

PVMI, a nonprofit organization formed in 2005 by the Idaho, Washington and Oregon potato commissions, initially intended for its varieties to be used predominately in the Northwest.

However, Debons said only a third of PVMI royalties now come from the Northwest. Another third comes from other U.S. states, and foreign countries now pay the remainder.

PVMI has collected more than $3.4 million in royalties since 2006, charging a 25-cent-per-hundredweight fee to regional growers, 50 cents to other U.S. growers and $1 to foreign growers. Royalties are shared with University of Idaho, Washington State University, Oregon State University, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and their breeding programs.

Some Tri-State varieties, such as the fresh, yellow spud Yukon Gem, are most popular outside of the Northwest. Yukon Gem’s resistance to late blight, along with other diseases, has made it an ideal fit in Canada and along the Eastern seaboard, Debons said.

Most of PVMI’s foreign royalties come from Australia. Gemstar Russet, a good processing variety released in the late 1990s, is Australia’s top Tri-State spud, though its susceptibility to PVY makes it less popular domestically.

Seed trials with PVMI varieties are ongoing in half a dozen countries, Debons said.