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Grower Sells More Than 40 Rare Seed Potato Varieties
Pick your potato, whether Russian Banana, German Butter Ball, Baby Red, French Fingerling or Russet Burbank. John Hoggan has them all and more. His Grand Teton Organics grows out more than 40 varieties of organic seed potatoes every year. Hoggan brings a lifetime of potato production expertise to his breeding enterprise.
    “I’ve worked with more than 300 named varieties and uncounted clones and numbered selections that don’t have names from breeding programs at major universities,” says Hoggan. “I started more than 60 years ago, following my dad around potato fields.”
    Hoggan has put that expertise to use in developing his organic seed potato business. Scroll through the options he offers in colors and sizes, and it’s hard to imagine he was 15 years old before he saw anything but a Russet Burbank or Red Pontiac. Today he offers purple, red, yellow and white, not to mention variations of each and some that are multi-colored.
    Wild Purple produces two different colored potatoes from the same plant. One may have dark purple skin and dark purple flesh, while the other has dark purple skin with big yellow eyes and variegated purple and yellow flesh.
    “It’s exciting to see how the market has changed as people look for different varieties,” says Hoggan. “Back in the 1990’s, I had one called Bintje (pronounced Benjee), an old European variety. There was no market for yellow potatoes at the time, but now there’s incredible demand.”
    Many of Hoggan’s prized varieties are even older, much older. Nearly all modern potatoes were taken to Europe by the Spanish conquistadores in the 1500’s. Over the next 500 years, they traveled back across the Atlantic. Many were unchanged. However, one of his varieties never left the Americas.
    “The Ozette fingerling is one the Spanish brought north along the coast and traded with the Native Americans,” says Hoggan. “It’s been grown for at least 2 centuries by the Makah people of northwest Washington.”
    Hoggan suggests planting an entire Ozette the size of an index finger with 10 to 15 eyes. Of those, perhaps five will form stems with each stem producing from 7 to 15 potatoes in the single hill.
    “You may have 50 fingerling potatoes under one hill,” says Hoggan.
    Not all Hoggan’s potatoes are heirlooms. Baby Red is a new variety offered for the first time this year. It sets up to 20 bright red mini tubers the size of a golf ball or smaller that are also bright red on the inside.
    One of Hoggan’s most unusual offerings is True Seed from potatoes. Most people plant pieces of a tuber. True potato seed forms in small balls on the stem after flowering. One seed ball may have 20 true seeds, each producing a unique set of tubers when planted.
     Each True Seed order consists of five dried seed balls selected randomly from 30 different varieties. On his website, he outlines the process to be followed.
    “Let them grow full season, and you’ll be amazed at the colors, types, sizes and shapes of the potatoes you have produced,” says Hoggan.
    Hoggan offers several helpful hints for planting seed potatoes on his website. Checking out the hints, as well as viewing the 45 varieties of potatoes for sale, is worth a visit.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Grand Teton Organics, 1872 Henry St., Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401 (ph 208-313-7303; joolhgna@msn.com; www.grandtetonorganics.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3