In September, the worldwide fast-food chain chose two new varieties for its fries, developed in part by Washington State University researchers Rick Knowles and Mark Pavek.
“McDonald’s has expert tasters, like in the case of fine wine,” said horticulture professor Knowles. “Their gold standard potato for French fries is a Russet Burbank, which makes a great fry but is really inefficient from a production standpoint.”
To develop varieties that are more efficient, stress tolerant and sustainable, WSU researchers work with colleagues from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), OregonStateUniversity and the University of Idaho through the Northwest Potato Variety Development Program, on what is commonly called the Tri-State Program.
WSU in on four of seven accepted varieties
“Burbank has disease issues and requires high soil fertility and water,” said Pavek, an associate professor and potato specialist in the department of horticulture. “And it has a lower yield of the highest-grade tubers because it’s susceptible to so many stress-related disorders.
“We need something to replace it that still makes fries McDonald’s will accept,” he said.
You can read more on WSU’s website.
Photo credit - WSU: Pavek and Tri-State Researchers select new potato varieties.