Gregory Porter receives Honorary Life Membership of the Potato Association of America
Gregory Porter, a professor of agronomy at the University of Maine’s School of Food and Agriculture, will receive an honorary lifetime membership of the Potato Association of America (PAA) at the organization’s annual meeting. in July 2022.
An Honorary Life Membership award, the highest honor bestowed by the AAP, recognizes outstanding contributions to the potato industry. Porter has been a member of the PAA since 1981 and has served as vice president, president-elect, and president.
From 1998 to 2002, he was editor of the “Production Management of the American Journal of Potato Research”.
He also helped organize two AAP meetings that were held in Maine and served on many of the organization’s committees.
Porter, who grew up on a potato farm in Aroostook County, has dedicated his 38-year career at UMaine to improving potato production in the eastern United States.
He has conducted research on crop and soil management practices to improve the yield and quality of potatoes and other crops.
Over the past decade, Porter has released five new varieties in partnership with the Maine Potato Board – Easton, Sebec, Caribou Russet, Pinto Gold and Hamlin Russet.
Caribou Russet has proven to be highly successful, growing to 1,476 acres of Certified Seed in 2021 (#2 in Maine, #16 in the US), with an estimated farm value of around $41 million in 2022.
Jeannie Tapley, director of operations at the Maine Potato Board:
“Dr. Greg Porter’s hard work within the potato industry has provided invaluable research to improve potato production.”
“The University of Maine Potato Breeding Program has been a tremendous success and this program would not be what it is today without the dedication and leadership of Dr. Porter.”
“The Maine potato industry has been extremely fortunate to have him in our corner, and we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
Porter also leads the Northeast Regional Potato Variety Breeding and Development Project (NE1731), a regional collaboration that leads the evaluation and release of new varieties.
His efforts to compile research results from universities across the eastern United States and disseminate them to growers are critical to the success of the project.
Kathleen Haynes, retired research geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service:
“Greg didn’t care what program developed the varieties, only that they were beneficial to Maine growers.”
The intensive process of potato breeding and varietal development takes about 10 to 12 years. Porter and his team start with up to 50,000 unique clones each year and research them over a 10-12 year period in multiple locations until they find one or more with the production characteristics and appetite they are looking for.
Candidates are meticulously tested at Aroostook Farm, a 425-acre research farm operated by the Maine Agricultural Forest and Experiment Station in the heart of Maine’s potato country.
Porter draws on his previous work in agronomy and crop physiology to ensure that potential varieties will thrive under realistic growing conditions.
Porter has authored or co-authored more than 66 publications in scientific journals and 250 articles for potato growers and other outlets.
In addition to his research, Porter teaches courses in crop ecology and physiology, experimental design, and statistical analysis.
He served as chair of the Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences from 2005 to 2010. In 2007, he assumed leadership of the University of Maine Potato Breeding Program.