Producing safe, nutritious, environmentally sound and economically profitable dry bean and potato industries in New York


1985 to 2013


This is a horticulture-based project working on the needs of the dry bean and potato industries in New York. Collaborative work is conducted with: plant breeders to develop improved varieties for our unique environments and markets; entomologists and plant pathologists to develop efficient and safe pest and disease control; horticulturists and extension staff to develop best production management practices; regulatory agencies to ensure fair and appropriate oversight; and industry, including growers and processors, to ensure that our efforts work for them and are economically and environmentally sound.


Both the dry bean and potato industries are facing increasing competition from other regions of the U.S. and also internationally. Given our Northeast location, it is a positive to be close to major markets, thus requiring less fuel in shipping. But it also means that we have a more harsh and shorter growing season than many other production locations.
Growers in both industries need new varieties that are better adapted to our stressful growing environment, which includes extremes in temperature and rainfall, not to mention a larger complex of disease and insect problems. It is important to grow a quality crop of stable volume to maintain markets.
Both industries service unprocessed markets (dry pack beans and bagged tubers) and processed products (dry beans are canned; potatoes are chipped). Both market segments require specific attributes that growers must consider in their management and marketing decisions.


The dry bean and potato project has used as many varied resources as possible to develop programming and products to help both industries remain competitive.
First, extensive involvement of both industries is used to determine priorities and what resources might be made available. Given the continual down-sizing of university resources in agricultural research and extension, we develop extensive networks with breeders, horticulturalists, pathologists and extension staff to help provide the needed cultural practice information and genetic material for new varieties.
This is accomplished by many methods, including regional meetings, regional site visits, and joint regional variety trials. New management guidelines need to be developed for the new varieties so the industry can more successfully adopted them. At every development phase, industry is included in evaluations, including consumer acceptance.


The single biggest impact from our project is that derived from developing golden nematode resistant potato varieties. The golden nematode is a significant worldwide agricultural production and marketing pest. Its commercial hosts are potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants, but it has more than 90 alternative hosts.
Potato yields can be reduced by over 80 percent, with control costs further adding to losses. Research has found that golden nematode resistant potato varieties are the most efficient, effective and environmentally sound control method. Each season that a golden nematode resistant variety is grown, the nematode population decreases by 90-95 percent, compared with 80-90 percent for soil fumigation and 30-40 percent for a non-host crop rotation. Thus in 1985, our regulatory program adopted a four-year crop rotation (requiring two years of a resistant variety) for infested fields, which is designed to keep populations below the probability of transmission.
Since this program has been adopted there has been no spread of the golden nematode to new New York state potato production areas. At stake here should the golden nematode become widespread and its distribution unknown, is not only the loss of markets for the potato and tomato industries of New York ($80 million annually), but also many agricultural commodities grown on or in soil, including many vegetables, turfgrass, nursery stock and potted plants. When combined with these other host crops, this would represent a market value in excess of $250 million.

Submitted by: 

  • Halseth, Donald E

Researchers involved: 

  • Sandsted, Eric
  • McLaury, Randy
  • Kelly, Jeff
  • Halseth, Donald E

Organizations involved: 

  • University of Maine
  • United State Potato Board
  • Snack Food Association
  • Empire State Potato Growers LLC
  • Penn State University

International focus: 

  • Ethiopia
  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

New York State focus: 

  • Albany
  • Allegany
  • Erie
  • Franklin
  • Genesee
  • Jefferson
  • Livingston
  • Monroe
  • Onondaga
  • Ontario
  • Orleans
  • Oswego
  • Steuben
  • Suffolk
  • Tioga
  • Tompkins
  • Wayne
  • Yates