Potatoes Are A Passion At Irish Eyes

Irish Eyes Farm manager Greg A Lutovsky from the Washington-based seed experts tells us about the 2024 potato trends to look out for.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Irish Eyes

Greg A Lutovsky is passionate about potatoes. After originally toying with turning an old sandbox into a raised bed in a bid to grow corn, radishes and tomatoes when he was a kid, Lutovsky’s interest in seeds has turned into a role as farm manager at Irish Eyes, a seed purveyor based in Ellensburg, Washington, that’s focused on potatoes.

“In my 20s, being ginger, Irish and loving potatoes, I gravitated toward seed potato farming,” explains Lutovsky of his path. “There is no other veggie that is so flexible you can grow it just about anywhere and return such large yields for a small space.”

Taking a minute out from farm manager duties, we spoke to Lutovsky about the glory of Kennebecs and the changing demands of the potato seed market. We also got into a recommended way to grill potatoes.

Learning a Love for Seeds


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Lutovsky’s love for seeds was formed during his early years growing up in Georgia. “In the third grade when we would eat watermelon outside, we would spit the seeds between the cement pad and mobile home underpinning,” he recalls.

“Low and behold, after a week I noticed the seeds had sprouted. Before you knew it I had blossoms and now small little watermelons. I would check the watermelon plants every day before school and immediately afterwards. After a few weeks, I came home and found a watermelon so large I couldn’t even pick it up. I was hooked!”

It turns out, Lutovsky’s moment of wonder came with a little human help. “Later on in life my dad came clean,” he says. “He told me the day after I left for school he removed my little watermelon and replaced it with a 30 pound watermelon. Dad and I had a good laugh when he told me in my 20s.”

Potato Seed Trends

When it comes to picking up on trends in the potato world, Lutovsky says that demand has rocketed since his early days at Irish Eyes.

“Gardeners did not have much access to seed potatoes other than a few old standards,” he recalls, mentioning the Red Pontiac, Kennebec and Russet varieties. “Doing research I found there were thousands of different varieties of potatoes, so I started offering Yellow Finn and a new potato called Yukon Gold. They became immediately popular with garden centers and home gardeners.

“Now the garden market has developed into yellows and something fun or different like fingerlings.”

Predicting 2024 Potato Preferences

Gazing toward next year, Lutovsky predicts that “yellows like Yukon Gold, Yukon Gem and the heat-tolerant Jelly will hold the top spots.”

Lutovsky adds that two relatively new varieties—the purple-skinned Huckleberry Gold and the yellow-hued Montana—are also likely to become top five seed sellers. “Both of these potatoes are low carb and friendly to diabetics.”

Kennebecs, Caribes & Viking Purples

When it comes to personal potato favorites, Lutovsky picks based on how they’re going to be used. “When I make French fries, I choose Kennebec hands down,” he explains. “For lumpy mashed potatoes, it’s a tie between Caribe and Viking Purple. For a breakfast or baked potato, I would chose Arizona Gold, a new release for 2024.”

However, pushed to anoint one variety as victor, Lutovsky plumps for the Huckleberry Gold. “It’s not the best for any one purpose, but it’s the best for every purpose,” he says, noting how its great yield and storage properties make it a top choice for baking, frying, mashing and using in hash browns.

Break Out the Grill

Lutovsky is a big advocate for utilizing the grill when cooking potatoes. “My favorite way to fix a potato is to barbecue it on your grill,” he says. “Slice half-inch slabs, cover them with oil so the seasonings stick, season it with garlic and your favorite seasonings and grill it on medium low,” he advises. “When the first side is crispy, turn it over and crisp the other side. It’s like a crispy potato chip with a soft center—add a small dollop of sour cream in the center of each slice.”

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