The Elkton potato variety was developed and released as a variety suitable for processing into potato chips from warm temperature growing areas. Potatoes are a cool season crop.
The number one potato chipping variety, the Atlantic, is susceptible to internal heat necrosis when grown in warm temperature environments such as the southeast. Internal heat necrosis is a physiological disorder of tubers characterized by dark brown patches of necrotic tissue in the tuber flesh. Tuber loads are sampled prior to going into the processing plant holding area, and if more than 5% of the tubers have internal defects, processors will reject the entire load. Potato growers in the southeastern U.S. and other high temperature growing areas are at economic risk due to internal heat necrosis.
It is estimated that 11% of the southeastern acreage of the Atlantic is lost annually due to internal heat necrosis, although this has ranged from 0 to 40% depending on the year. Elkton is highly resistant to internal heat necrosis and produces larger yields than Atlantic when grown in warm temperature environments.
Elkton is highly resistant to internal heat necrosis and produces larger yields than Atlantic when grown in warm temperature environments.
Potato growers in the southeastern U.S. are the prime recipients of the Elkton potato. In order to provide these farmers with planting material, the laboratory entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Daniel Corey Farms, which provided funds, expertise, facilities and labor to produce disease-free planting material for large-scale evaluation and eventual commercial sales. In 2014, Daniel Corey Farms received a license to provide certified (i.e., disease-free) planting material to growers for commercial production. Seed was sold to potato growers in California, Texas, Missouri, Florida and North Carolina, and these growers subsequently sold their potato crop to chip processors.
The subsequent harvest from those growers was processed into potato chips. Approximately 18,300 acres of potatoes are grown in Florida for the chip processing industry. On a yield basis alone, Elkton will generate approximately $651 more per acre than Atlantic in the state.