Donald MacKelvie, 1867-1947, Potato Breeder

Donald MacKelvie was a small farmer on the isle of Arran, who also ran a general store. He was involved in lots of different activities, one of which was potato breeding.

The potatoes he raised were all named using the prefix "Arran". He did some of his own crossing, but many of his varieties were derived from seed produced for him by a Mr. Keay of Wolverhampton. He concentrated on developing his skills of selection.

One of his achievements was the raising of potatoes which were immune to wart disease, a serious problem in the early 1900s. I have never seen wart disease; it is no longer common.

He was very aware of the officials who were gradually taking control of potato production in Britain, and developed good working relationships with them.


ARRAN CONSOL (released 1925)
This is perhaps the best keeping potato. It was grown during World War 2 to ensure that potatoes were available during April and May; it keeps dormant (does not shoot) for a very long time. White, early maincrop.

ARRAN BANNER (released 1927)
Maincrop, earlier than most. Flavour and quality highly dependent on growing conditions. Grown in Cyprus for export for a while.

ARRAN VICTORY (released 1918)
Very floury late maincrop. This has a bright purple skin and very white flesh. It was bred in 1912 but released in 1918; its name derives from the 1918 victory in World War 1.

ARRAN CAIRN (not sure of date)
An excellent-flavoured variety, maincrop, roundish tubers, yellow skinned, rather floury. They store well. The tubers are quite small.

Pictures (click on small images for detail):



ARRAN PILOT (released 1930)
This is a good-flavoured first early, and was extremely popular commercially for about 30 years. There are now earlier 'earlies' (e.g.Rocket) but it is still available for amateurs to grow. It has a better flavour than some other earlies and does not disintegrate when boiled in spite of fairly high dry matter.

Pictures (click on small images for detail):



ARRAN COMET (released 1957)
Donald McKelvie's last variety. Tubers large, first early, relatively pest-free. Dry matter 5, good flavour, can tolerate water shortage.

ND / Diversity website

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