Statement regarding Uihlein Farm minituber production

Since the founding of the Uihlein Farm in 1961 through the generosity of Henry Uihlein II, the Farm produced foundation seed potatoes for New York State growers. Due to economic constraints, it phased out field production of seed potatoes, ceasing entirely in 2018. In spring 2019, orders from potato growers to the Uihlein Farm for minituber production decreased. Due to this and other factors the Uihlein Farm operation is no longer financially sustainable.

In recent years, at the national level, the private sector has expanded the commercial production of potato minitubers making it possible for growers in New York to source varieties from Cornell and elsewhere at attractive prices. We now think that it is unnecessary to duplicate industry efforts and will be discontinuing our greenhouse minituber operation at the Uihlein Farm. The 2019 production year will be its last, with minitubers produced this year to be distributed from the Uihlein Farm in spring 2020 as planned.

Our Foundation Seed Potato Program will continue to support New York agriculture from its location in Ithaca. The laboratory on the Cornell campus has always been the entry point for potato varieties destined for the Uihlien Farm in Lake Placid. The Ithaca lab is where all the initial tissue culture and disease testing work is performed and where a duplicate of the Uihlein Farm tissue culture collection is maintained. Beginning in 2020, all tissue culture work will be carried out at the Ithaca laboratory where we will continue to grow tissue culture plants of new potato cultivars that are adapted for production in New York.

Seed potato growers wanting to grow Cornell cultivars after spring 2020 will need to order their minitubers from commercial minituber producers in the United States. Our program will directly notify growers with whom we work about this change. Although these changes will affect the distribution of varieties developed by the Cornell Potato Breeding program, they will not interfere with one of our main programmatic missions, to breed and deliver new cultivars with resistance to the golden nematode. Cornell will continue to collaborate with partners to address the management of potato cyst nematodes, an issue of national importance to United States agriculture.

Following this announcement, we will now begin to explore alternatives for future use of the greenhouse and labs at the Farm location. Future field land use at Uihlein Farm also continues to be under discussion with relevant parties.

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