Carrington Research Extension Center


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Organic fingerling potato variety trials


What are fingerlings?

Fingerling potatoes are small, elongated potatoes that are typically 1 to 2” in diameter and 2 to 5” in length resembling fingers, hence the name. These potatoes are mature when harvested and not to be confused with new potatoes, which are young potatoes that are harvested before they are mature. These potatoes are in demand with chefs and market farmers for their unique flavors and textures. Fingerling potatoes can be smooth or knobby and come in variety of colors and names from the yellow-skinned Russian Banana, the pink skinned French variety, to the purple skinned Purple Peruvian to name a few. Most fingerlings may be referred to as heirloom or folk varieties, although current plant breeding efforts are developing new varieties.


Assortment of fingerling potatoes from the CREC 2015 organic variety trial.

Field trial results

The CREC has evaluated specialty organic potatoes each year since 2005. During the 2013-2015 growing seasons 14 fingerling varieties were trialed at the center with Yukon Gold or Red Norland used as check varieties. Objectives of these trials were to determine the adaption and quality of these potatoes along with varietal comparisons in a dryland organic environment. Field trials were planted mid-May each year of the study. Harvest dates were late-September to early October, demonstrating the late maturity of this type of potato. Data gathered show days to brown vine, or dry down, range from 110 to 132 days, as compared to check variety Yukon Gold with ~100 days to dry down. Tuber weight, the average weight of an individual potato in grams for the three year period is 60 grams or ~ 8 potatoes per pound compared to Yukon Gold at 157 grams or less than 3 per pound. Yield data gathered from the last three years at the CREC demonstrate the yield potential of fingerlings to be lower than Yukon Gold. The average yield for Yukon Gold is 177 cwt/ac, or 177 hundred pound bags of potatoes per acre. The highest yielding fingerlings were Russian Banana, Red Thumb, and Austrian Crescent at 153, 148, and 138 cwt/ac respectively. Yields presented are total yield/ac with no grading or culling. Data gathered demonstrate the lower yield potential of fingerlings along with information to make varietal comparisons. To view complete data sets from individual field trials please click on the links below.


2014 trial in bloom.

Taste testing

To determine differences in overall quality a taste test was conducted from the 2014 crop by Dr. Abby Gold on the NDSU campus. Eleven varieties of fingerlings and Yukon Gold were evaluated for appearance, texture, tenderness, flavor and overall quality. Preliminary results rated Ozette and Butterfinger best for overall quality with Austrian Crescent being close behind.  Russian Banana was rated best for appearance and texture with Butterfinger rating best for flavor and tenderness. Plans are underway to gather further results from the 2015 crop.

After the potatoes have been processed and analyzed portions of the harvest have been donated to the Great Plains Food Bank to be distributed throughout ND. Who says, “You can’t have your data and eat it too!”


2013 crop being loaded into the semi-trailer.

Research Specialist

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