Spudman

JulyAugust 2021

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Spudman • July/August 2021 35 Q&A WITH David Holm David Holm has had a significant impact on the quality of potato varieties available to growers today. For 43 years, Holm has led the breeding program at Colorado State University, where he's helped develop nearly three dozen varieties in production and collaborated on another 20-plus. Holm is about to call it a career, but his impact will continue for decades to come. Spudman7 KNOW SOMEONE WHO SHOULD BE FEATURED? Email Zeke Jennings at [email protected] or call 616-520-2159 1 Po tato farming is a big par t of the culture in southeastern Idaho. Did you know early on that you wanted to work with po tatoes? There were a lot of things that pushed me toward having a career working with potatoes. Being raised on a potato farm in Southeast Idaho was just one of them. Probably the most influential were my dad and grandfather. Also, a seventh-grade science teacher encouraged our class to start thinking about potential careers. I enjoyed science and coupling that with my dad and grandfather's interest in trying new potato varieties, it helped my career start to gain vision. I decided that potato research was what I wanted to do. 2 Af ter ge t ting your undergrad and master's degrees from UI, you moved to a Ph.D. program at Minneso ta. What at trac ted you to that? As I was nearing the completion of my master's degree, I started applying to various universities to do a Ph.D. program. The University of Minnesota was on the list. They had very good potato research programs. When I was offered an assistantship, I knew that was where I needed to go. It was a great experience for me. 3 What would be a project or two from your career that you feel especially proud of ? The overarching project for my career was potato breeding. Over the last 43 years, my program developed 33 new varieties, including clonal selections and cooperated with other universities and agencies in developing another 21 varieties. All of the potato market classes are represented by these varieties. I also have had the opportunity to work with several great collaborators in the study of health promoting traits of potato. We released Purple Majesty in 2005. Its health- promoting attributes are more studied than most any other potato in the world. 4 What have been the biggest advancements in po tato breeding during your career? Collectively, anything related to molecular breeding of potatoes has been a major advancement. Poised to be another major advancement is diploid breeding of potatoes. Time will tell! 5 What is the most common desired trait you hear from growers they want in newer varie ties? Disease resistance is commonly mentioned. Usually mentioned is resistance to PVY, soft rot, tobacco rattle virus and potato mop-top virus. 6 What do you enjoy doing away from work? Gardening, yard work and flying my wife's drone. We also enjoy visiting our children and grandchildren. I also enjoy being involved in the San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair and Colorado Science and Engineering Fair. 7 What is your favorite way to eat po tatoes? I like to eat potatoes in virtually every form and method of preparation. For me, it is mostly a function of variety attributes and what methods of preparation they are best suited for.

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