This weekend was scheduled to be an exciting one for the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The school intended to host the grand opening of the new Seed Potato Germplasm Lab on the Moscow campus, Saturday October 23rd. But unfortunately because of elevated COVID-19 numbers that grand opening was pushed back to the spring. That delay, however, has not muted the excitement the multimillion dollar facility has generated. CALS dean Michael Parrella said this facility will benefit growers across Idaho and well beyond.
“Idaho produces about 30% of all the potatoes grown in the U.S., and potato quality really starts with the germplasm, quality germplasm that’s identified and that’s pretty much pathogen free. So, this new facility will maintain more than 300 cultivars of potatoes that in a sense can be used to augment breeding programs not only in Idaho but reinforces breeding programs literally around the world.”
Parrella noted the Lab will serve as a beautiful way to welcome people on the west end of the campus, and will be a great recruiting tool for years to come.
“We have a very vibrant department of plant sciences here we have a burgeoning growth in that. So, this year for example, I mentioned our undergraduate enrolment growth. One of the biggest departments that’s seen that growth is plant sciences, so, again, we expect that to accelerate and we expect this facility to kind of fuel that.”
Parrella noted the Seed Potato Germplasm Lab is only part of the construction plans for the west end of campus. He noted plans call for a new Vandal Brand Meats facility to be constructed into the future.
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