Tuesday, 4 January 2011
The Sebago potato was bred in Maine in 1932, and released in 1938 by the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station. It was a cross between Katahdin and Chippewa, both of which are also still around, although uncommon now. It was very popular in North America for quite a while, but has mostly been displaced by other, newer, varieties. However, it took Australia by storm and it is still the most popular potato in Australia, by far.
It's a versatile potato in the kitchen, lending itself to boiling, mashing, roasting, baking and frying with equal ease. It's a pretty classic looking potato, with excellent classic potato flavour - an entire continent swears by it, after all - and it stores quite well.
It's good in the garden too; with a decent range of disease-resistance (although susceptible to blackleg) and generally good yields of large, even, shallow-eyed potatoes that are white fleshed with medium-thick tan skins. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, disease resistance includes PVA, wart disease, yellow dwarf, common scab, fusarium dry rot, late blight, early blight, tuber net necrosis, verticillium wilt, and PVY. As a plant, they are notably attractive and healthy looking, with strong green, vigorous leaves and mauvy-pink flowers. Those big plants need room and the yield will drop if the plants are crowded, so give them plenty of space. The pollen is said to have low fertility, but I don't know how it does at forming berries.
So why has it dropped out of favour here? I suspect its weakness for Canadians is its long season to maturity; 110 to 120 days, or more. However, those of us in Southern Ontario should be able to grow them without great difficulty. These were one of the potatoes I got from Pinehaven Farm, from just south of Peterborough.