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Championship Purple Potato

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Triumphant tater released by OSU.

If potatoes competed in the Olympics, a flashy new purple spud would win a gold medal.

Released by Oregon State University, the triumphant tater survived six intense years of testing in the field—against insects, disease, and weather—and in the lab, where it was boiled, baked, zapped, and scalded in hot oil. But its tenacity and good genes paid off, and it beat out thousands of other specialty breeds.

The new spud, called Purple Pelisse, is not like a traditional potato with white flesh and brown skin. It’s purple inside and out, fingerling-shaped, and it’s the first specialty potato that OSU has released through the Pacific Northwest Tri-State Breeding Program. Potato growers and processors in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho rely on new varieties developed through the program. Thousands are tested; only a handful make it to market.

Creating a new potato is a rigorous process. It takes up to 10 years to develop a specialty variety and up to 15 years to develop a traditional variety. Here’s a glimpse of what it takes to make a champion:

(click on the smaller images below, then hover your cursor over each enlarged photo to read the caption)

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