|Discovery of the First Better Potato
Thirty four years ago, Robert Campbell, President of Cal-Ore Seed, Inc. and Manager of Discovery
Garden’s, left his family farm in Michigan to grow potatoes in California. He became frustrated
with the available varieties, which prioritized grower needs, such as higher yield and disease
resistance. Rob wanted to find potatoes that appeal to consumers. He wanted a potato with
improved consistency, color and taste. In 1989 he began a career in variety development. With
a keen sense of consumers' preferences for a russet potato, he started looking at new varieties.
Copyright © 2010 Discovery Garden's
Rob Campbell in Klamath Falls, Oregon, 2006
Rob's fascination with the
Sierra Nevada mountain range
in California helped as a spring
board for naming the variety.
He also wanted to call
attention to its golden center,
likeness to a competing variety
in the market place, the Yukon
Gold. The two words were
brought together to re-name
TX1523-1Ru/Y the Sierra Gold®.
Photo Courtesy of California Farm Bureau Federation
Launching the marketing campaign was next on the
list. Amanda recalls attending trade shows when, "We
idea and a promise!"
Amanda coordinated development of packaging and
worked diligently to distribute the potatoes to local
grocery stores and farmers markets. Initial volumes
were not large enough to target a national chain, but
Albertson’s-Northern California in San Leandro gave
the Sierra Golds® their first break and ever wider
distribution. More market share led to more growers
Sierra Golds® are now available across the US and in
he generously shares the credit
variety developed by Texas
A&M University potato breeder,
Dr. J. Creighton Miller,
ultimately met Rob's standards.
Rob’s wife, Joan Campbell, and
daughter, Amanda Leo, and
numerous other family and
friends acted as chefs and
taste testers. Joan remembers,
“For awhile, family dinners or
parties always included a taste
testing event.” Amanda joined
the Cal-Ore Seed team in the
fall of 2000 as Office Manager
and Marketing Director.
In the summer of 2001 Rob liked how a variety known as TX1523-1Ru/Y emerged early and had
hearty vines. As it was growing, Rob liked the interior color and the russet-like skin. Because it
matured early, it was one of the first potato crops ready for harvest on the Stockton Delta in
Central California that year. After 5 acres of harvested potatoes were put in storage, tests
were conducted in a professional kitchen. They received rave reviews.