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Purple passion

New potato will be grown in Klamath Basin
  By JIill Aho, ,Herald and News 8/20/09 
     It has gone by several names during development and trials, but a new purple fingerling potato could make its debut on store shelves as early as fall 2011. And it will be grown in the Klamath Basin.
 Klamath Basin Fresh Direct has obtained exclusive marketing rights for the Purple Pelisse, a new variety of potato developed by Oregon State University, the University of Idaho, Washington State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  
   Klamath Basin Fresh Direct, a marketing group of about 50 Klamath Basin potato growers, likely will rename the variety Purple Passion, said chairman Dan Chin of Wong’s Potatoes. The marketing group has had success with the Klamath Pearl, an organic potato sold in Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Safeway stores across the United States.
   “We’ve had our marketing group do some preliminary culinary samplings of it,” Chin said. “It fries up good, boils good, roasts good and best of all, it tastes good.”
   Originally named POR01PR16-1, the potato variety was developed in 2000 by USDA research geneticist Chuck Brown.   Oregon State University conducted most of the trials on the variety and owns the rights to it.
   OSU potato researcher Brian Charlton said the variety was part of ongoing research trials at the Klamath Basin Research   and Extension Center in Klamath Falls. Charlton said the health benefits of the potato are likely to increase consumer interest.
   “As the consumers become more educated about the health attributes, and we can show these colored potatoes have higher levels of antioxidants compared to other potatoes, consumers will seek that added health benefit,” he said.
   According to the USDA, all potatoes are high in complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and iron, but colored varieties are believed to have increased antioxidant properties related to their pigmentation.  
   Antioxidants are believed to aid in preventing certain cancers and improving cardiovascular health, according to the USDA. Research indicates the Purple Pelisse has antioxidant values that are significantly higher than Russet Burbanks.
   Charlton said location affected the levels of antioxidants found in this variety as well, and the Klamath Basin may be able to produce the highest quality and healthiest Purple Pelisse.  
   “(Researchers) tend to see the same pigment and variety,” Charlton said. “Grown in different locations, you’ll have different concentrations of pigments. The shorter growing season, higher altitude sites generally have more anthocyanin, or darker pigmentation, than those grown at lower altitudes.”
   Anthocyanin is the pigment found in blueberries.  
  Potato Variety Management Institute

   The Purple Pelisse is the first specialty spud that Oregon State University, the University of Idaho, Washington State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have jointly made available for public consumption.


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