The man we have to thank for the Maris Piper potato is none other than John Clarke who hails from Northern Island. John Clarke was responsible for 33 potato varieties with 30 of those carrying the Ulster prefix (such as the Ulster Monarch potato)
The Maris Piper is actually a ‘grandson’ of one his varieties and they’re grown more than any other type of potato in the UK. In 2012 19,000 hectares of potatoes were grown.
Maris Piper cropped up in the UK in 1966 (a particularly good year!) and was the result of a massive potato breeding initiative at the Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) in Cambridge.
This particular variety was produced because of the need to find a variety that was resistant to Potato Cyst Nematode (Globodera rostochiensis) commonly known as eelworm – thankfully it has kept that resistance throughout its lifetime.
The Belfast Telegraph published a great article on the history of John Clarke and the Maris Piper which you can read here.