Oregons Klamath Basin is known for fertile soil in the semi-arid desert. Potato production in the area isnt affected much by late blight or Colorado potato beetle, but water is probably the biggest issue for growers.
In 2001, the federal government cut off water from Klamath Lake, and Gavin Rajnus, 33 years old at the time, was thrust to the front of a protest movement. In the years since, water has continued be an issue in the region and on Rajnus farm.
The Rajnus seed-growing operations were started in 1949 by Rajnus grandfather, Laddie, whose father emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1911. Laddies two sons, George and Donald, formed Rajnus Brothers Seed in 1980. The company hand-cut all of its seed to ensure quality tubers, although the process is slower and costlier.
Gavin Rajnus graduated with a bachelors degree in agriculture from Oregon State University in 1991
» Read more
U.S. seed potato acres approved for certification in 2006 increased 4 percent from 2005. A report from Colorado State University showed 113,871 acres certified for 291 varieties.
Industry groups have encouraged growers to plant fewer acres to keep prices at a profitable level, and it appears to have made an impact, as the increase in plantings was minimal.
Given as good a marketing year it was, theres still the possibility that growers will continue to restrain themselves as far as plantings, said Robert Coltman, program director for the Wisconsin Seed Certification Program. I think next year will determine how successful theyve been.
About 75 percent of the total acreage approved was dedicated to the top 20 varieties. The top varieties in 2006 are Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah selections, Norland, Russet Norkotah, Ranger Russet, Shepody, Umatilla Russet, Atlantic, Red LaSoda, Yukon Gold, Rio Grande Russet, Snowden, Superior, Dakota
» Read more
Running a potato farm is a not a commitment to be taken lightly, and Mike Baginskis parents, Ted and Sue, wanted him to be sure it was what he really wanted to do. They had him move away from the familys farm in Antigo, Wis., to gain some real-world experience and a perspective away from the family and farm.
So, after earning an associates degree, Mike moved to Hagerstown, Md., to work at his uncles shipping company. He stayed there a little more than a year, all the while harboring a desire to take over the family business.
I knew I wanted to come back, Mike said. I missed Wisconsin, and I missed farming.
Mike said his mom probably didnt want him to return to the potato business because shes lived through it once, and wouldnt want to do it again. But the Baginski men secretly dreamed of
» Read more