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March 2005

March 2005
  • Potato Transportation The high and rising price of fuel has added significantly to the cost of putting potatoes on the American consumer's dinner table. But even more than rate increases, the industry is facing a growing shortage of rail cars and trucks to carry spuds to market at any price.
  • Readership Response
  • Seed Size Distribution A commercial Norkotah grower I was visiting with recently was trying to choose which of three seed lots he should buy for next year. His first thought was to stick with the seed grower he bought from last year, since that offer was the cheapest.
  • Timing for Planting It's no secret that a uniform stand of healthy, vigorous plants is one of the keys to producing high yields of good quality potatoes.
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Potato Transportation

The high and rising price of fuel has added significantly to the cost of putting potatoes on the American consumer’s dinner table. But even more than rate increases, the industry is facing a growing shortage of rail cars and trucks to carry spuds to market at any price. Dave Smith, president of the Idaho Growers Shippers Association, said truck availability has been short for some time. In part, independent owner-operators haven’t done well, thinning out the truck supply, but that may change as large fleet operators start to sell more used equipment into the market. But, he added, “A big issue is that not enough people want to qualify and drive.” Kevin Stanger, the sales manager for Wada Farms in Idaho Falls, agreed. Independent small operators have gone out of business, the truck population has decreased, and it’s hard to get drivers. The pay is “just OK” for…  » Read more

Readership Response

I want to start this month’s column with a letter to the editor I received about my column last month regarding smaller, more convenient packaging: As a mother of six and now an empty-nester, I can relate to all those people who need smaller packages. However I want reasonable prices too. Is that too much to ask? I can almost use a 5-pound bag of potatoes before they start growing in my basket, but last week I was forced, by my conscience, to buy a 15-pound bag of lovely Russets because they were on sale for less than half the price of the 5-pound bag that I'd normally buy. Now I'm getting some very strange looks by everyone who enters my house as I ask them if they could use some potatoes. I've managed to "farm" some of them out, but it looks like my husband…  » Read more

Seed Size Distribution

A commercial Norkotah grower I was visiting with recently was trying to choose which of three seed lots he should buy for next year. His first thought was to stick with the seed grower he bought from last year, since that offer was the cheapest. I asked him what he was trying to achieve. He said that to stay in business he needed to increase his yield and grow a much higher percentage of count cartons while getting the biggest return for every dollar he had to spend. He needed to keep seed costs low, but he wanted to make sure that the seed he purchased gave him the results he wanted. He mentioned he could buy this seed lot from the same grower as last year for $8 per cwt. delivered, but he was concerned about last year’s results. As I spoke with him,…  » Read more

Growers Must Weigh Risks, Benefits of Planting Window

It’s no secret that a uniform stand of healthy, vigorous plants is one of the keys to producing high yields of good quality potatoes. Most potato growers spend a lot of time selecting seed and preparing to cut and plant in an effort to achieve those kinds of stands. Unfortunately, growers are sometimes disappointed with seed performance due to high levels of seed decay, erratic emergence or slow plant growth. The easiest thing to do in those situations is to blame the seed supplier and ignore all the other things that determine seed performance! Seed quality is very important, but there are a number of other factors that also influence seed performance. Certainly germination and plant development are greatly affected by environmental factors such as temperature, rainfall and sunlight, which are not controlled by growers. One of the most important grower-controlled factors is the decision…  » Read more
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