Woman in greenhouse holding a McDonald’s container of French fries.

NDSU Develops Potato Variety Now Approved for McDonald’s World-famous Fries

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The most recent potato variety to join the list of approved McDonald’s potato varieties is the Dakota Russet, developed at North Dakota State University by Asunta Thompson, associate professor of plant science and potato breeder.

The Dakota Russet produces low sugars, which results in consistent French fry color and less undesired defects like dark ends.

“This is a dream come true,” Thompson says. “Having our russet accepted by McDonald’s for their French fries is the gold standard we all strive for. Cultivar development takes a team, and this difficult achievement would not have been possible without support from the NDSU potato improvement team, potato farmers and agriculture partners.”

“My goal since returning to NDSU in 2001 was to identify superior cultivars across market types,” Thompson says. “I focused on earlier maturity which would allow greater opportunity for economic and environmental sustainability for our farmers, while helping address the global challenge of feeding the world.”

The cross (traditional hybridization) was made in 1999, and Thompson selected the seedling in the single-hill nursery in fall 2001. The variety was officially named and released in 2012. The approval process for the Dakota Russet to be accepted by McDonald’s was completed in March 2022. The Dakota Russet is one of eight varieties accepted in North America. The most recent additions to the McDonald’s North American varieties were in 2016.

The Dakota Russet was developed with the needs of Midwest farmers in mind, producing consistently high yields and fitting the shorter growing season with its medium maturity.

“The development of the Dakota Russet, and its acceptance from McDonald’s as a potato variety speaks to the innovative research happening here at NDSU as part of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station,” NDSU President David Cook says. “Our talented researchers work hard to contribute to the success of our state and the world.”


Asunta Thompson, 701-231-8160,