The AHDB has awarded its annual Potato Industry Award to Doug Harley, managing director of Cygnet PB, the potato breeding business within family-owned Alexander Harley Group of companies based at Milnathort in Scotland.

Mr Harley launched the Cygnet brand and its limited generation seed production on a commercial scale. This innovation significantly reduced the number of generations of potato seed that needed to be grown before commercial launch.

“The old system took nine generations before you could use the seed commercially,” he explains. “The mini tuber technology we pioneered allowed us to multiply up seed in a disease free environment; decrease the number of generations needed to three; and at the same time reduce disease and increase yields.”

Presenting the award at the recent Seed Industry Event at St Andrew’s, AHDB Potatoes Sector Board chair Sophie Churchill said: “Doug Harley has long been at the forefront of seed potato production and breeding, not just here in Britain but internationally. Not only that, he has also been committed to driving the industry forward through his leadership on our key industry bodies. He is an undoubtedly deserved winner of the Potato Industry Award.”

Mr Harley commented: “I’m honoured to receive this award. I have watched a few of my peers win and to be among such an illustrious group is a privilege.”

Doug Harley with award

The AHDB’s Above and Beyond Award, which recognises “those unsung potato heroes who go that extra mile to make a positive impact on the potato supply chain” went to Gerald Croft, seed sales manager for Greenvale AP.