Origins of the Yukon Gold potato

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Origins of the Yukon Gold potato

Postby Jenise » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:34 pm

From the B.C. Times Colonist:

The place to start answering your query is to tell you a little about the interesting history of the Yukon Gold potato. Despite its name, the development of this hybrid didn’t occur in the Far North, it happened in southern Ontario.

In the early 1900s, many Dutch and Belgians immigrated to Canada, with some settling and farming in the Lake Erie area, around towns such as Simcoe, Leamington and Harrow. Many of them grew vegetables, such as potatoes.

In an article written on the University of Guelph website, uoguelph.ca, potato-breeder extraordinaire Gary Johnston writes that in 1953 he took over potato research work at an agriculture station in Harrow. Not long after, local growers began petitioning for the breeding and licensing of a yellow-fleshed potato variety similar to what they had grown in Europe.

Johnston and his research team at the University of Guelph potato-breeding program took up the task. After much contemplation, Johnston decided they should try to create a potato variety with shallow eyes, globular shape and yellow flesh.

After years of experimenting, they finally found their nugget by crossbreeding an early-maturing, North Dakotan white potato variety called Norgleam, with a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety.

Johnston suggested they call the potato Yukon, for the Yukon River and gold-rush country.

His colleague, Charlie Bishop, suggested they add the word “gold” to reflect the colour and appearance of the potato.

The Yukon Gold potato was licensed in 1980 and became the first Canadian-bred potato to be marketed and promoted by name. To succeed as a new variety, Johnston believed the potato would require good publicity, and he got it by doing radio, television and print media interviews.

Getting his potato rolling was Harrowsmith magazine, which published an article called There’s Gold in These Hills.

The potato became and still is popular in Canada and the U.S. It is now grown in several locations in North America, including B.C.

The B.C. fresh vegetable growers website, bcfreshvegetables.com, says Yukon Gold potatoes were first grown in Delta in 1987. Because of their colour and texture, they were marketed as “the potato with the butter already in it.”

That website says the Yukon Gold variety is what’s primarily grown in B.C., but there are other quality yellow-fleshed potato varieties grown in this province and elsewhere.
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Re: Origins of the Yukon Gold potato

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:17 am

Interesting! I didn't realize this potato had been developed so recently.

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