Dunnett's 60 years of potato breeding honoured

Dr Jack Dunnett accepts the British Potato Industry Award from Potato Council director Rob Clayton
Dr Jack Dunnett accepts the British Potato Industry Award from Potato Council director Rob Clayton

This year's British Potato Industry Award has been given to breeder Dr Jack Dunnett MBE in recognition of his contribution to the industry over six decades.

Dunnett was responsible for several of the Pentland series of varieties, bred at the then Scottish Plant Breeding Station near Edinburgh where he worked for 23 years. 

Then in 1976 he co-founded Caithness Potato Breeders, followed by seed supplier Caithness Potatoes, established in partnership with major Scottish seed growers.

This led to the Nadine variety, which is still the dominant variety in Australia and New Zealand, while his Stemster variety is grown successfully in France for seed exports to North Africa.

He was also responsible for many other familiar varieties including Kestrel, Swift, Merlin, Osprey, Maxine, Verity, Mimi and Harmony.

It is estimated that over the last 20 years, around half a million tonnes of seed of his varieties have been produced in the UK alone.

In 2001 he published a memoir, A Scottish Potato Breeder's Harvest. He was awarded an MBE in 2004 and an honorary degree from the Open University last year.


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