Update: Good news and bad news. The good news is that this variety is now virus free! The bad news is that I didn’t manage to propagate enough for a crop in 2020. It should be available next year though.
Azul Toro is one of Tom Wagner’s more famous potato varieties and deservedly so. It is a heavy producer of medium sized tubers with dark blue skin and flesh. It is a multi-purpose type and has excellent flavor for a blue. This is an early to mid-season potato, yielding in about 75-90 days from emergence. It also has spectacular looking flowers and produces fertile pollen. Tom created this variety in 1995 from a cross of his varieties Negro y Azul and Kern Toro. It has a complex pedigree going back to a Solanum chacoense hybrid among other things and has a reputation for heat tolerance. It may also have some resistance to Colorado potato beetles through that heritage. Stolons can be rather long on this variety, reaching out a foot or more. This is a tetraploid variety with excellent dormancy. It was recommended in several of Carol Deppe’s books, which has sustained some interest.
Unlike tomatoes, which grow true from seed, potato varieties must be grown every year to survive and they also need to be periodically cultured in a laboratory to free them of viruses. Because of this, the majority of Tom’s potato varieties have been lost. In many cases, even his most popular varieties are now grown by only a few people, since they have accumulated viruses and become unproductive over the years. Azul Toro was last grown at field scale in 2007. When I tested a plant from the last remaining source before cleanup, it was positive for five viruses: Potato Leafroll Virus, and Potato Viruses A, S, X, and Y. The fact that it still produced reasonably well with such a virus burden may indicate that it has particularly good resistance. As of May, 2020, this variety has now tested completely virus free and I am growing a crop of foundation seed. I expect to have it available again in 2021.
True seed of Azul Toro gives a mix of blue with blue flesh, blue with white flesh, red with white flesh, and white with white flesh. The progeny tend to be early and vigorous plants.
Azul Toro tubers pay a 15% royalty to Tom Wager.