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January 2006

January 2006
  • Bill DeVos: Growers Should Focus on Consumers
  • Idaho Potato Brotherhood There are more than 50 years of potato-growing history in the Van Orden family of Bingham County, Idaho. Michael, Gaylen and LeRoy Van Orden are working to continue that tradition.
  • New Year's Resolution
  • Promoting Idaho Potatoes Kim Wahlen is a third-generation potato grower, farming about 6,000 acres near his hometown of Aberdeen, Idaho. His grandfather, Peter Frederick Wahlen, immigrated from Sweden to Salt Lake City, Utah, nearly 90 years ago.
  • State of the Industry If anyone knows what's happening in the fields, it's potato growers. To see what growers are thinking and how they feel about the current market, Spudman sent questions to several growers across the country. Six responded: Andy Diercks from Wisconsin; Danny Johns from Florida; Carla Worley from Colorado; Justin Dagen from Minnesota; Todd Michael from Ohio; and Stanley Searle from Idaho.
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Bill DeVos: Growers Should Focus on Consumers

There are three items prominently displayed in my office. One is a painting by Colorado artist Tom Lockhart, “Greenwings over a Wintry Marsh,” which I won at an NPC National Seed Seminar hosted by Colorado. Then there is the gold medal won in doubles table tennis in the BC Senior Games this summer. The last item is a decorated plate about the North Dakota potato industry. It shows a horse-drawn cultivator, tractors pulling a planter and a digger and the late Dr. Bob Johansen among potato plants in a greenhouse. Dr. Johansen was a prolific breeder and developed many potato varieties at North Dakota State University. They all carry the prefix “Nor.” Norchip, Norgold, Norland, Nordonna, Norking, Norqueen, Norvalley and Norkotah come to mind. Some of these varieties have been replaced by others, especially the Norchip. Norlands are still going strong. Norgold showed too much hollowheart.…  » Read more

Farming Tradition Continues For Van Orden Family

There are more than 50 years of potato-growing history in the Van Orden family of Bingham County, Idaho. Michael, Gaylen and LeRoy Van Orden are working to continue that tradition, with more than 1,500 acres of potatoes, 650 acres of sugar beets and 2,900 acres of wheat. LeRoy and Gaylen, the older Van Orden brothers, started farming with their father in 1974. The youngest brother, Michael, returned to the farm in 1981 after attending Brigham Young University and going to work for the Federal Reserve. “I missed it; it’s just a good life,” Michael said. “I enjoy the aspects of working on the farm.” The three brothers have been farming as a partnership since they started working together in ’81. And though there have been times when working with family has been difficult, the three have worked well together, with open communication. LeRoy is the senior partner, Gaylen…  » Read more

New Year’s Resolution

The new year is a time when people resolve to do a lot of things: lose weight, get organized, spend more time with the family. I have a challenge for the potato industry: Resolve to embrace the promising market conditions brought about by the decreased acreage in 2005; resolve to make 2006 the year of innovation. Like a lot of resolution, this one won’t be easy. It will take a lot of work with retailers and with each other. The market won’t come to you. And you can’t continue doing things the same old way because consumers constantly are looking for the latest and greatest. And I know there’s room for potatoes to step up and take their share of the supermarket spotlight. But it’s up to you, the grower. It’s time to bring potatoes back to the table – the dinner table, and the lunch…  » Read more

Kim Wahlen Works Hard In Industry He Grew Up In

Kim Wahlen is a third-generation potato grower, farming about 6,000 acres near his hometown of Aberdeen, Idaho. His grandfather, Peter Frederick Wahlen, immigrated from Sweden to Salt Lake City, Utah, nearly 90 years ago. “He rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle up to Idaho when he was 19 years old, and homesteaded the farm that my dad lives on now,” Kim said. “Dad farmed until he was 76 years.” Kim was born and raised in Aberdeen. He loves his small town and is very active in the community. Wahlen’s wife, Connie, is a California transplant (he met her at Brigham Young University). Together, they make a good team, along with their six children. The two oldest daughters are married: Angie Daw from Blackfoot, Idaho, and Jill Lucas from American Falls. Daughter Hailey is a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Sons Tanner and Garrett attend Aberdeen High as…  » Read more

State of the Industry

The state of the nation’s potato industry is constantly changing, and the past few years have seen marked differences in the world market and in the marketing of potato products in the United States. To shine light on those changes, as well as paths for the future, Spudman has asked leaders from the nation’s state potato organizations to answer a few questions on the state of the industry. Read on to hear what they have to say. ------------ Will Wise Oregon Potato Commission President and CEO What are the top three issues facing potato growers in your state? What about potato growers in the nation? Several challenges face Oregon potato producers going into 2005. Among those are processing plant capitalization and economy of scale, export growth and trade patterns and consumer tastes and preferences – including the dieting trends. The doors of a frozen product processing plant will close in…  » Read more
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