Shepody Potato

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2:56 min.

Teacher's Guide

Summary

In 1983 the Shepody potato was ushered from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's research labs in Fredericton, New Brunswick to the world market and quickly became one of the most popular varieties for French fries. The Shepody is adapted for Canada's short growing season. On going research focuses on the production and management of potatoes, including breeding and pest management.

Transcript of Video

Richard Tarn
This is the equivalent of the stud farm of the potato breeding world.

Female voice
The spud stud farm, better known as the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick, is where Shepody, one of Canada's best french fry potatoes, was bred.

Dr. Richard Tarn
The Shepody was bred to meet a need of a french fry industry that was beginning to develop and expand in the 1960's and had a requirement for a potato with characteristics that were rather different from the varieties that were already available.

Female voice
The new french fry friendly potato had to have the desirable elongated shape and proper moisture content – not too moist and not too dry – a texture that would hold it's shape without getting limp or soggy after frying. It also had to grow fast enough to mature in the short east coast growing season. Shepody was bred the old fashioned way – by cross pollination. Potato flowers have both male and female parts and can pollinate themselves. Since the goal is to breed the best characteristics of different plants together, the flowers chosen to be pollinated have their male parts removed. Pollen is collected from another plant and the breeders make like the bees, cross pollinating from one plant to another. The fertilized flowers grow a fruit, called a seed ball, and then the planting part of the breeding program begins. How many seedlings do you have to grow to produce a winning spud?

Richard Tarn
... we figured it would be one seeding out of 200 - 250 thousand that we grow over a several year period.

Female voice
After hundreds of thousands of seedlings, and 13 years of effort, the scientists were confident that they had a winning french fry potato. Shepody was registered in 1980, and quickly became a hit in both Canada and the US.

Richard Tarn
Shepody is extremely successful by any terms. It's the number two ranking potato in Canada and, I think, the third ranking potato in the US.

Female voice
Not content with being number two, Dr. Tarn and his colleagues at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are now working on breeding a new and improved Shepody, one with more disease resistance, that can be stored longer. They're hoping that in about six years time the super Shepody will show that it has the stuff to be the number one spud in Canada.

Earth Tones is produced in co-operation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.