Blue kewa datshi anyone ?

If the on-going study by the Research and Development Centre (RDC) at Yusipang is successful, Bhutanese farmers, in addition to the current potatoes variety, will be soon able to cultivate one more variety called the Adirondack Blue potatoes.

The Adirondack Blue is distinguished by its blue flesh as well as its peel due to a high level of anthocyanins content in the flesh unlike the normal potato. The Adirondack Blue was released by potato breeders at the Cornell University.

It belongs to the Solanum genus (Solanum tuberosum ‘Adirondack blue’) and the blue tuber is considered a hybrid cultivar with large and spreading foliage, green with a bluish tint stems and leaves with white flowers, and the skin and flesh are blue and the skin may be slightly netted. They are round to oval in shape and slightly flattened with intermediate to shallow eyes.

A researcher officer at the Horticulture Department, RDC, Tashi Gyalmo, has sown the trial seeds of Adirondack Blue potatoes to check for its adaptability in Bhutanese soils.  She received the potato seeds from an organic farmer in New Jersey, United States of America.

She said that the performance and yield attributes of the potato is yet to be evaluated as the initial stage of research work is on-going. As a trial process, seven tubers were planted in a single row in her backyard garden to determine the adaptability of the new potato variety in a cold climate after harvest.

“The climatic condition in New Jersey is much harsher than what we have here, and I am confident that potatoes would grow well,” Tashi Gyalmo said. She further said that the potatoes are planted under the guidance of the organic farmer in New Jersey, which requires the potatoes to be cut into halves and dried out for the whole day before it is planted in the soil.

Tashi Gyalmo said that if the tuber growth proves successful, then the variety release committee would carry out an in-depth study and recommend the seed to the Druk Seed Corporation, to distribute the tuber seeds to the interested growers across the country. “The cultivation method is very similar,” she said, adding that the tuber can be grown like any other potatoes currently grown in Bhutan.

The tuber is known to have a good flavour and delivers a relatively early harvest. It is known to hold high amounts of antioxidants, especially in the skin.  They are marketed as ‘all-purpose’, though they are more on the waxy side making them better as boiled potatoes. It can also be baked and made into soft and fluffy mash. It is also a great potato to add colour to any meal, including kewa datshi and salads, which do no discolour while baking or boiling.

Adirondack Blue is a perennial and grows best over several years, 3 years and more. It grows at a height of approximately 1.20 metres with a stemless-like habit.It is a low maintenance plant that is great for beginner gardeners and those that like gardens that do not need much overseeing.

The Adirondack Blue potato is a hybrid variety that was developed by the Cornell University and released by potato breeders, Robert Plaisted, Ken Paddock, and Walter De Jong in 2003.

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