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Potato Varieties for Market Growers in Southeast Pennsylvania

Posted: November 23, 2011

Recently at a Penn State Extension Potato Field Day I was lucky enough to sit next to Mark Lichtenwalner from Donald E. Lichtenwalner Farms in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Mark and his family have been growing potatoes for many years for wholesale and increasingly for retail markets. As the Penn State potato breeder shared the preliminary results of this year’s potato variety trial, we thought about which types of new potatoes might fit a changing market and regional climate.

Tianna DuPont, Penn State Extension; Mark Lichtenwalner, Donald E. Lichtenwalner Farms

If you sell at farmers’ markets, to grocery stores and restaurants, I am sure you have noticed the growing interest in smaller, colored potatoes that fit well in a quart basket or serve up well on a fancy restaurant plate. Mark has also observed that with the warmer climate recently in the Mid Atlantic region, some varieties do not seem to be as well adapted as they used to be.

Mark shared a few of the varieties he really likes for direct marketing in our area of Southeast Pennsylvania (below). If you are like me and gen-erally grow standard farmers’ market varieties like Yukon Gold, you might want to check out some of these alternatives next year.
Rio Colorado has a bright red, very smooth skin. Its yield is generally low, but it works well for quart boxes. It can be grown early, and seems to tolerate heat to some degree.


Carola. This has been around for some time. Again it has a bright, clean skin and yellow flesh. It is one of Mark’s favorites for eating. It tends to be on the small side, but it can grow large with the right conditions. Mark thinks it could be used as a substitute for fingerlings. Be careful because it will usually get ugly if grown in hot weather. The appearance has been acceptable this year.

Adora. Similar to Carola, maybe earlier, but again hot weather is an issue.

French Fingerling. Roseval. This is the only finger-ling Mark feels he can grow. Most fingerlings are too late maturing for his market, and not toler-ant of hot weather.

Viking. This is an old variety that had some popu-larity for fresh market. Mark grows it for its unique flavor and good culinary qualities. It has always been the most heat and drought tolerant
variety he grew, but the last few years it has not
performed well. It tends to be very large,
sometimes knobby, sometimes ugly, but with a high yield potential. It has a purple striped spot that give it an interesting appearance, however the color can fade if not dug shortly after
maturity.

Red Maria. Formerly NY 129. In Mark’s past trials this one always looked good, and this year during the high heat, it seemed fine.

Lehigh. This is probably the only variety Mark’s customers ask for by name. He doesn’t like the ruff skin, but it usually washes bright and grades out a high percentage of number ones. If seed becomes more available, he might grow this one and not much else. It can get too large for
consumer packages.

To source these varieties try:
Wood Prairie -- http://www.woodprairie.com/
Moose Tubers -- http://www.fedcoseeds.com/moose.htm
Tucker Farms for Lehigh potatoes -- http://www.tuckertaters.com/
Potato Garden -- http://www.potatogarden.com/

I am interested in what types of varieties direct market growers are looking for to provide
feedback to the potato breeders at Penn State. Please send me any input at < tdupont@psu.edu >.