The Colorado State University Potato Program at the San Luis Valley Research Center consists of five team members. They are David Holm, Kent Sather, Samuel Essah, Andrew Houser, and Sastry Jayanty. This interdisciplinary team focuses on potato research and extension education programs. The central mission of this team is to support the Colorado potato industry, and consumers alike.
Dr. David G. Holm Potato Breeding and Selection Program
Dr. Holm was born in Southeast Idaho and raised on a family farm near Shelley in Bingham County. Potatoes, grain, and alfalfa were the primary crops raised. He credits his Dad and Grandfather with instilling in him an interest in potatoes, and his 7th grade science teacher with helping him decide on a career in science when he challenged the class to start thinking about the future and what they wanted to do for a living. Dr. Holm received his B.S. (1972) and M.S. (1974) from the University of Idaho and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota (1977). Dave began his professional career and is currently a Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Colorado State University located at the San Luis Valley Research Center, where he served as Superintendent from 1983–1997. Dave’s principal research responsibilities include the breeding and selection of new potato cultivars through traditional hybridization methods. Development of seed stocks of advanced selections for grower evaluation and seed increase is also an integral part of his program. He maintains close interaction with various research, extension, and production segments of the potato industry in Colorado and other major potato production areas of the US. He considers these relationships critical to the release and successful adoption of new cultivars. In 1979, he initiated the Colorado Potato Breeding and Selection Program, which previously had been solely a selection program receiving seedling tubers from other programs. During Dave’s tenure, 18 cultivars have been released. He has cooperated with other universities, the USDA-ARS, and Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada in the release of another 11 cultivars. He also has developed five clonal selections of Sangre and Russet Norkotah.
Kent Sather Colorado Potato Certification Service
Kent Sather is the manager of Colorado Potato Certification Service, overseeing the certification protocols for 13,000 – 15,000 acres of Colorado seed potatoes. He graduated from University of Idaho in 1979 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Plant Science. His first two years in the potato industry were spent in seed potato research in eastern Idaho.
During the next 18 years he worked as the assistant manager of Nebraska Potato Certification Service, overseeing disease testing and maintaining the tissue culture laboratory. In 1997, he assumed the assistant manager position of Colorado Potato Certification Service, moving into full management after he attained his Masters of Science degree in Potato Physiology from Colorado State University in 2003. He has been involved with the US Potato Board Seed Export Committee and is actively involved in the Potato Association of America Certification Section as well as the National Potato Council certification subcommittee, holding various offices in both of these organizations over past years.
Dr. Samuel Essah Potato Crop Management Program
Dr. Samuel Essah is Assistant Professor and State Extension Specialist at Colorado State University, in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, at the San Luis Valley Research Center. He is the head of the Potato Management and Physiology Program at the research center, and conducts research to develop cultural management guidelines for the successful, sustainable, and economic production of potato cultivars, which optimize their genetic potential, while minimizing economic input and environmental degradation. He has contributed to the release of over fourteen Colorado potato varieties from the Colorado State University potato breeding and development program.
Dr. Essah is currently the U.S. director of the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in North America, director of the Potato Association of America, and Senior Editor of the Production and Management Section of the American Journal of Potato Research.
Dr. Essah has been involved in International Agricultural Activities since joining Colorado State University. His involvement in international agricultural has taken him to countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Australia, Scotland, and Ghana several times.
Dr. Essah is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Horticultural Science, the Potato Association of America, European Potato Association, African Potato Association, and life member of the Indian Potato Association.
Andrew Houser Potato Pathology Program
Andrew has been working with potato disease issues at the SLV Research Center for 13 years. He received his BS in Botany from Adams State College in 1999 and his MS in Horticulture with a plant pathology emphasis from Colorado State University in 2008. He is currently working on a PhD from CSU and is serving as the interim plant pathologist at the center. Andrew’s research interests include evaluating new potato clones for disease resistance, evaluating powdery scab population dynamics in the soil, as well as developing new strategies for managing black leg and tuber soft rot. Andrew is also the Assistant Manager of the Colorado Potato Certification Service in which he works with local potato seed growers in producing high quality Colorado seed. Andrew currently resides in Monte Vista with his wife (Lori) and his two sons (Tanner and Josiah).
Sastry jayanty Potato Postharvest Physiology Program
Dr. Sastry Jayanty obtained his Ph.D in plant molecular biology from National Chemical Laboratory, Pune and ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India. His postdoctoral training was at Michigan State University and Purdue University on postharvest biology of fruits and vegetables.
Sastry is currently Assistant Professor and State Extension Specialist at Colorado State University, in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, at the San Luis Valley Research Center.
Sastry’s research interests include physiological disorders and nutritional aspects concerning potato. His research employs both molecular and biochemical tools to study the pre and postharvest factors affecting the quality of the produce. He recently published articles concerning accumulation of selenium in potatoes, ways to reduce acrylamide formation in fried potato products and characterization of antidiabetic compounds such as biguanide related compounds in vegetables.
One Ph.D student successfully graduated from Sastry’s postharvest program and he is currently co-advising three students who are pursuing their master degrees in Horticulture. Sastry enjoys mentoring students through work experiences and/or science projects. He serves on San Luis Valley Regional Science Fair Board of Trustees.