This year I grew a trial patch of five ‘Cherry Red’ potato plants from January 27th through June 13th. A crazy-early start, even for Northern California. And 137 days is a long time to wait for “new” potatoes. But the plants did well, grew very tall, and flowered even though they suffered some water stress in the spot where they grew. The harvest was well over 5 pounds. I didn’t include the weight of some of the potatoes because their eating quality was spoiled by growing too close to the surface.
Luckily, high stolon-set is a characteristic I love in a potato variety and this one may have everything we look for in red-skinned urban farm growing conditions. It’s a tall plant that sets stolons high on the stem. The stolon length is among the largest I have seen with potatoes growing over 2 1/2′ from the main stem. The potatoes sized up nicely, are very clean, show no signs of scab or other problems. And five seed potatoes crammed into a 3’x3′ planter all managed to do well and produce a pound of potatoes each. With more space and water, this potato could be a strong contender. I also like that the ‘Cherry Red’ flowered and produced true seed. That means we can try crossing them with some of our other red-skinned, yellow-fleshed contenders and see if we come up with an even better variety in the future.
The ‘Cherry Red’ is a fairly new variety bred from the cross (ND4750-2R x LA1858). Released jointly by the Colorado, North Dakota and Texas Agricultural Experiment Stations in 1999. These potatoes are recommended for boiling or baking, so I think I will whip up some potato salad to try them out. The kids like this recipe from Rachel Ray that uses potatoes, green beans, scallions and Balsamic vinegar. And since my husband was very sick the last time he ate regular mayo potato salad, it might be best to give him something different this time just in case.
June 14, 2014
After simmering in salted water for 15 minutes, these potatoes have an excellent “potato” flavor with just a hint of bitterness in the skins. The flesh breaks apart easily and has a dry, baked potato texture. They could be described as crumbly. There’s a very slightly metallic after-taste from the skin of these potatoes that I could do without. The Balsamic vinegar in Rachel Ray’s recipe wipes it out nicely.