Characteristics | Management Profile

The original clone was "Burbank" discovered in the 1870s by Luther Burbank and originally called "Burbank's Seedling" (ref. Howard, W.L. 1945. Luther Burbank's Plant Contributions. pp. 58-60. Univ. California, Berkeley, CA, Bulletin 691). It developed from a first generation seedling of an open-pollinated cultivar "Early Rose" in Massachusetts. The "Russet Burbank" form of the smooth-skinned cultivar Burbank is characterized as having a russet (or rough) skin type and was reported to be a chimera of Burbank. Russet Burbank was identified in 1914 by Lou Sweet, a grower in western Colorado. The Russet Burbank became and still is the major cultivar grown in the USA especially in the Pacific Northwest. Its two major uses are for making French fries and use as a baking potato. Russet Burbank is probably the most studied potato cultivar in North America and is considered standard of comparison for French frying. It is an indeterminate variety whose vine is large, vigorous and spreading, and has a late maturation.

Russet Burbank tubers  Russet Burbank vines
Russet Burbank Tubers          Russet Burbank Vines

Summary of Plant Characteristics

  • Purpose -- frying and baking
  • Growth Type -- indeterminate
  • Maturity -- late; full season
  • Dormancy -- long, about five months at 45oF
  • Vine -- large, upright and spreading; thick stems
  • Leaves -- long, medium-wide, light to medium green color
  • Flowers -- few, white and infertile
  • Eyes -- shallow, numerous and well-distributed
  • Tubers -- cylindrical - long and large, renowned for its shape; russet skin
  • Set -- medium
  • Specific Gravity -- middle, usually about 1.080
  • Sugar -- low, acceptable for frying
  • Stem End Discoloration -- somewhat susceptible (also called jelly end and sugar end disorder)
  • Bruising -- susceptible to internal black spot (IBS) and dehydration
  • External Defects -- susceptible to secondary growths and mis-shaping
  • Internal Defects -- susceptible to net necrosis
  • Yields -- wide variation due to geographical climate, in WA, as high as 600 cwt/a, but in high temperature locations will drop the 200 cwt/a or less.
  • Disease susceptibility - susceptible to bacterial soft rot, dry rot, leak, pink rot, silver scurf, black scurf, seed-piece decay, wilts, early blight, leaf roll and net necrosis, PVX and PVY, and bacterial ring rot
  • Disease tolerance -- resistant to common scab
  • Herbicide -- resistant to metribuzin injury; no problems reported
  • Other -- night-time heat will induce severe mis-shaping of tubers; requires more water during growing season than most cultivars; tuber quality is sensitive to nitrogen fertilization.
  • Storage -- Stores very well for a long period; sugars kept low.
  • Taste -- rates very high in taste testing panels for both frying and baking.

Table. Tuber yields and specific gravity of Russet Burbank in different

  Total cwt/a US1 cwt/a Specific gravity
Russet Burbank 499 328 1.082
Combined means of 12 trials, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, 1981-89
Russet Burbank 404 255 1.082
Idaho means of 32 trials, 1981 to 1989