Agricultural Research Service

A potato called Yukon Gem has a little something extra: a pleasing, light yellow flesh that adds eye appeal to this tuber.

Smooth-skinned and medium-sized, Yukon Gem potatoes can be baked, roasted, boiled or processed into golden chips or fries.

That's according to geneticist Richard Novy and plant pathologist Jonathan Whitworth, both with the Agricultural Research Service Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, Idaho.   

Novy, Whitworth, and two now-retired Aberdeen researchers tested and evaluated this niche-market tuber for more than a decade before determining, in 2006, that it was ready to release as a named variety.
Last year, Yukon Gem was planted on a total of 32 acres in five western states.

The acreage was enough to produce seed for plants that could yield a total of at least 41 million Yukon Gem potatoes.

Yukon Gem got its start in North Dakota as one of many unnamed, untested offspring of Yukon Gold—a popular yellow-fleshed variety—and Brodick, a disease-resistant potato from Scotland.

In 1995, the Aberdeen scientists selected it from among  thousands of other potatoes they were evaluating in their research fields in Idaho. They gave it the designation NDA5507-3Y, then evaluated it in rigorous field trials over 11 years in five states.
Colleagues from state universities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington—participants in what's known as the Northwest Potato Variety Development Program—were among the collaborators in evaluations that led to the tuber's naming and eventual release.

In the field tests, Yukon Gem'syields averaged 12 percent higher in eastern Idaho, 22 percent higher at test sites in Washington and 41 percent higher in parts of Oregon than Yukon Gold. 

Yukon Gem also showed notable resistance to many of the costly diseases, such as dry rot, and both foliar and tuber late blight.