As part of the Mexican Trade Mission hosted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, we experienced an extremely informative stop at the Colorado State University Research Facility in Center. I walked away with “good news” to share with consumers, retailers, producers and my co-workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Scientists at the facility are working on over 200 potato varieties. Much of the research is focused on development of potatoes with increased health attributes such as antioxidants, resistance starch, and anti-cancer elements such as selenium. Resistance starch in potatoes works to reduce fat absorption – this was all new and exciting to me.
We learned that new sprout inhibitors, for both conventional and organic production, are being developed for growers needing a 30-day window to sell in local markets. Also, many sports and specialty diet drinks utilize components from potatoes as hunger suppressants in the beverages.
The research demonstrates an excellent partnership between the private sector (growers) and USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Funds and research funding from the Agriculture Research Service (ARS). The research facility plays an important role in supporting Rural America and keeping U.S. potato growers competitive.