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Potato Breeding Programme


Company Background 

IPM Potato Group (IPM), is a major player in the development of new and improved potato varieties and in the production, marketing and distribution of seed potatoes globally. IPM Markets Seed Potatoes of Irish, Scottish, Dutch and French origin in over forty countries, with Ireland, The UK, Egypt, Canary Islands, Morocco & Cyprus among the most important markets. IPM was founded in 1950, with a function of exporting seed potatoes, and the Teagasc Potato Breeding Programme began in 1962 to breed new potato varieties for the Irish market. With the introduction of plant breeder’s rights in the 1960’s, the protection of intellectual property of new varieties enabled the collection of royalties to support research and breeding efforts, and both parties identified opportunities in the future and the need for collaboration.

Industry Challenge 

IPM & Teagasc recognised that, as Potato Breeding has a long lead time (It takes twelve years to produce a new potato variety, requiring rigorous testing for consumer quality, market suitability, disease resistance and adaptation to different agro-ecologies) a close, structured, long-term partnership was required.


In the early 1970’s, a partnership was formed between Teagasc and IPM to breed new varieties for a diverse range of global markets. This formal partnership is now in place for almost 50 years. As part of this collaboration, thousands of seedlings are tested initially in Ireland and thereafter selected lines are evaluated under different growing conditions in a wide range of geographic locations, to ensure they are suited to different environments. Usually one or two varieties are released each year for different market segments such as fresh consumption, processing and export. This long term strategy enabled goals to be set and resources to be put in place. Goals such as a high dry matter, versatile variety with good disease resistance for the Irish market, and a variety with nematode resistance for the UK market were among the targets set. Rooster and Cara respectively ticked these boxes with great Success.

Engagement Type 

This is an on-going collaborative research project with IPM. Teagasc’s Technology Transfer Office provided support in concluding the most recent collaboration.

Impact on the Company 

The collaboration with IPM, which continues to this day, has expanded the scope of the breeding programme to breed for global markets. Forty five varieties have been released in the intervening period with over 29 of these still being marketed commercially or under early development. Rooster is by far the best known of these varieties in Ireland and now accounts for over 60% of the total Irish potato area. Cara was the first successful variety released and is still popular in the UK, Canary Islands and Egypt.  Varieties such as Banba, Burren, Nectar and Electra are currently the most widely marketed varieties and seed produced in North Western Europe is exported to over 40 countries mainly in southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Teagasc/ IPM varieties are being grown as far afield as Australia, Kenya and Brazil under local seed production agreements.