Highlights of the USPB/SFA Chip Trials

Dr. Richard Chase, Professor Emeritus
Michigan State University
SFA Potato Research Advisor
The search for new and improved potato varieties for the chip industry is an on-going and very challenging task. In order to enhance the introduction of new varieties, which offer a potential for the potato chip industry, the SFA Potato Technology Committee in 1985 undertook the sponsorship of evaluating advanced seedlings, which in University and Regional Trials showed prospects of having good chip qualities. Since 2002, the U.S. Potato Board has provided the funding of the regional trials and SFA has managed the research program.
Requests were made to all of the University and USDA Potato Breeders to suggest entries that could be evaluated in selected production areas. Seven regions were identified to represent area production management practices and also subject the entries to a range of crop weather conditions that would be helpful in the judgment of adaptability. The selected regions, which are the current trial locations, are California, Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Red River Valley, and Idaho.
For the past several years 10 advanced seedlings have been entered each year for comparison with the standards, Atlantic and Snowden. Norchip, which was developed in North Dakota and released in 1968, was used as the storage standard prior to the introduction of Snowden, developed in Wisconsin and named in 1990. Atlantic serves as the "fresh" standard and was developed by the USDA – Beltsville and released in 1976.
The trials are designed to simulate a mini-commercial trial. Cooperating chip growers are selected and plant the 45 lbs. of seed of each entry in one of their fields and manage the inputs along with their own commercial crop. In Florida and Idaho, the trials are located on University research farms.
At each trial location, the regional coordinator selects the cooperating chip grower and a cooperating chip processor — see Table 1. Samples are collected at harvest for out-of-the-field processing (within 48 hours), color determination and the evidence of internal and external defects. Ideally, these evaluations are the same as those used on commercial loads delivered to the cooperating chipper. In the northern locations, where storage is a significant part of the supply, 40-lb. samples are collected at harvest and placed in the cooperating growers' storage for the out-of-storage evaluation the following late winter or early spring.
Annual reports of these trials are prepared and distributed at the Annual Chipping Potato Seminar. From 1985-2003, there have been 73 advanced seedlings evaluated which were provided by several of the University and USDA Potato Breeders. Among these 73 entries, 25 were named and released by the developing breeder and agency. Fourteen of the 25 named varieties were considered to be chipping varieties as shown in Table 2.
During the period 1985-1990 there were six advanced seedlings in the SFA Chip Trials which were named and released and have been a part of the chip industry: Gemchip, Niska, Kanona, Somerset, Chipeta, and Snowden. Gemchip was used in the northwest area as yields were reported to be better than for Norchip. Chipeta was named in 1993 and has become more widely used as a Norchip replacement in Western U.S. Snowden, named in 1990, became the most significant storage potato.
In my judgment, I believe the chip industry was looking for improved varieties that produced and stored better than some of the older varieties such as Kennebec 1948, Monona 1964, and Norchip 1968. Many growers were also experiencing real challenges trying to store Atlantics which have their greatest adaptability for the direct or fresh harvest.
Since 1990, some newer released varieties have found a niche in the chip industry. Pike, which has very good scab tolerance, has been an important chipping variety in those areas where pitted scab can be serious on Atlantic and Snowden. Nor Valley has replaced much of the Norchip acreage in the Midwest and now Dakota Pearl, with some cold chipping potential, is showing increasing adaptability.
Table 3 shows the 1998-2003 Approved Seed Acreage for several chipping varieties. It is very difficult to obtain an estimate of the commercial chip acreage so I have always used the data of approved seed acreage to determine variety trends. The Atlantic, for example, has pretty well stabilized. Snowden hit a peak of 7,783 acres in 1998 and since Frito-Lay no longer accepts this variety, it has leveled off at around 2700 acres since 2000. Dakota Pearl is a new introduction and the seed acreage made a 7 fold increase in 2003 versus 2002. Pike has remained fairly steady throughout 1998-2003. The total 2003 approved seed acreage for Frito-Lay varieties, which is not included in this table, was 11,963 acres, a decline from the 12,422 acres in 2003.
Some of these varieties such as Reba, Monona, and Andover are also used in the round white fresh market. The Kennebec may also be used for chip processing in some regions and also for frozen processing. Most of the Ivory Crisp seed was grown in North Dakota. Marcy (NY112) was named since the 2002 approved seed acreage report and 94 acres were approved in 2003 with half of the seed acreage in Maine and the other half in New York.
The naming and release of a new potato variety does not assure that is has or will survive the critical test of meeting "commercial acceptance" by the industry. Historically, many new varieties have failed this phase of the process. When a new variety is subjected to the more rigid tests of large-scale production including seed cutting, planting, harvesting, handling, and long-term storage, significant defects, if they exist within the variety, are more likely to appear.
I believe that in today's process for the introduction of new varieties into the system, significant steps are in place to learn the best management profiles for each variety. As one evaluates the characteristics of a new variety, at least for the chip industry, yield, specific gravity, chip color and freedom of defects are major considerations, however one should not overlook the weaknesses so that the balance of these, if they do exist, can be evaluated with the positive aspects.

SFA/USPB Cooperators
Region Coordinator Chip Grower Chip Processor
California Dr. Ron VossUniv.
of CaliforniaDavis,
John Moore Whitewolf PotatoArvine
Frito-Lay, Inc. Bakersfield,
Florida Dr. Chad Hutchinson
Univ. of Florida
Gainsville, FL
Plant Science
Res.& Education
CenterHastings, FL
Wise Foods Berwick,
Maine Dr. Ed PlisseyBio Ag
Research, Inc.
Machiasport, ME
John Dorman
Inc. Dayville,
Pennsylvania Dr. Bill LamontPenn
State Univ.University
Park, PA
Tom Smithmeyer
Patton, PA 
Snyder of Berlin
Berlin, PA  
Michigan Chris LongMichigan State
Univ.East Lansing,MI
Greg PerkinsV &
G Farms
Stanton, MI
Jays Foods,
L.L.C. Chicago,
Red River Valley Duane PrestonUMN/NDSUE.
Grand Forks, MN
Oberg Farms
Hoople, ND
Barrel O Fun Perham,
Idaho Dr. Dr. Steve LoveUniv. of
Abeerden R & E
R & G Potatoes
American Falls, ID


2003 Approved Seed Acreage for
  ---------------Approved Seed Acres*---------------
Variety Year Released 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
1. Atlantic 1976 6,621 6,245 5,481 5,075 4,645 4,351
2. Snowden 1990 7,783 5,942 3,149 2,485 2,758 2,597
3. Dakota Pearl 1999 n/a 8 67 88 248 1,749
4. NorValley 1996 2,271 2,137 1,597 2,244 1,946 1,344
5. Pike 1995 1,137 1,778 1,433 1,455 1,304 1,291
6. Reba 1992 n/a 522 828 755 908 981
7. Chipeta 1993 858 938 721 742 401 550
8. Monona 1964 686 652 607 307 509 495
9. Andover 1995 397 369 474 419 418 392
10. Kanona 1988 446 414 450 180 232 219
11. Ivory Crisp 2001 n/a n/a n/a 92 208 214
12. Norchip 1968 278 182 251 206 116 73
13. Marcy 2003 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 94
*Data obtained from PAA Certification Section.