When you think about how to use new advances in X-ray technology, potato breeding is probably not the first thing that springs to mind. However, scientific researchers at the University of Wisconsin are doing just that to help develop new potato varieties — and to do it faster! State-of-the art, high- speed X-ray technology is now becoming a routine practice for evaluating potential new potato varieties, because it is faster and much more effective. Do you remember your last X-ray at the doctor office? It was time-consuming, uncomfortable and expensive. Not so with potatoes! Every day during harvest, tens of thousands of potatoes are examined in just milliseconds, at virtually no cost!
This technology is possible by incorporating a high speed X-ray imager into the potato-grading line (where potatoes are evaluated after harvest). This imager takes an X-ray image of each tuber as it passes through the machine at a high rate of speed. From that image, computers calculate just about anything that you ever wanted to know about that tuber, including its weight, length, width, height and shape; most remarkably, it can determine if there are defects on the outside and even the inside of the tuber. This is a huge improvement on previous technology in both speed and expense, which is akin to doctors being able to take the X-rays they need as you drive past the clinic! (more…)