First Lady plants potatoes in White House garden

04/30/2012 11:29:00 AM
The Grower Staff

David HolmCourtesy Colorado State UniversityDavid Holm leads Colorado State University's potato breeding efforts.Only last fall, the White House was leading a charge against the potato in school lunches and the Women, Infants and Children food programs.

In an about face, First Lady Michelle Obama recently planted five different potato cultivars in the White House Garden, and three of those cultivars were from Colorado State University's potato breeding program, according to a news release.

They were Sangre, a red-skinned potato with good boiling and backing qualities; Canela Russet, a russet variety good for baking; and Mountain Rose, a specialty red-skinned potato with light red flesh.

Planting potatoes in the First Garden also elicited a comment from the potato industry.

"I feel vindicated," Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Monte-Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said in the release.

"Potatoes had been depicted as the villain, and when you work in this field you take that to heart. We feel like we’re providing a nutritious, healthy source of food.”

It takes about 14 years to develop a new potato variety, according to the release.

CSU's efforts are based at the San Luis Valley Research Center, which is home to a seven-person potato breeding team.

David Holm heads the team.

The Colorado Potato Administrative Commitee supports the program to the tune of $250,000 annually.

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