Breeding and Varieties

Potatoes NZ Inc. works closely with Plant and Food Research (PFR) on New Zealand’s only commercial potato breeding programme.

Potatoes NZ Inc. has an agreement with PFR where it receives 10% in royalties on returns from the sale of cultivars from the breeding programme the two organisations share. This money is put back into research and development, primarily targeted at the breeding programme.

Working at sites across key potato-growing areas, PFR’s potato research focuses on new cultivars with traits desired by the consumer, such as nutritional value, colour and flavour, and increasing quality and productivity for processing – size, shape, cooking quality and disease resistance.

PFR’s extensive germplasm collection includes both commercial and non-commercial lines, giving our breeders access to wide genetic variability for parental lines. The PFR genomics researchers are investigating the molecular control of key traits to inform the breeding programme.

The PFR breeders have over 30 years’ experience and a number of commercial successes.

  • ‘Purple Heart’, a fresh market potato with high concentrations of antioxidant purple colouring in the flesh and skin.
  • ‘Purple Passion’ with high levels of purple colour in the skin and yellow flesh.
  • Fresh market ‘Red Rascal’ with red skin.
  • High yielding ‘Allura’ for the fresh market.
  • White-fleshed ‘Moonlight’ for general purpose and French fry.
  • French fry potatoes ‘Lone Ranger’ and ‘Bondi’.

Click here to watch a video on the PFR potato breeding programme via Youtube.



There are around 50 varieties grown in New Zealand, but not all of them are grown commercially. The main commercial varieties are Russett Burbank, Innovator, Rua, Nadine, Agria, Moonlight, Desiree, Ilam Hardy and Red Rascal.


Plant Variety Rights

The plant variety rights to all potato seed lines are owned by an individual, or a company, somewhere in the world. This means they have exclusive commercial rights to sell, and propagate for sale, that plant. Whenever a potato seed grower buys a particular seed, a royalty is paid to whoever owns the rights to that plant.

If you would like to find out who owns the plant variety rights to a particular breed of potato, go to:

Plant variety rights section of the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ)

  • Click on “Search for plant variety rights”
  • Go to the “Genus” field
  • Scroll down to “Solanum Tuberosum” (the scientific name for potatoes)
  • Go to “Common Name” – find the entry for “Potato”
  • Potato varieties are listed alphabetically and include the owner’s name
  • Click on the blue number in the left hand column (for example, Agria is POT014) to access the owner’s full contact details and when their rights expire.

If you would like more information about Plant Variety Rights and protecting the intellectual property rights around new plant varieties, visit the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), of which New Zealand is a member.

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