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July / August 2006

July / August 2006
  • Banking on Potatoes The U.S. Potato Genebank is just that; a bank containing 5,000 populations kept as botanical seed, encompassing about 150 species.
  • Storage Management While temperature is probably the most important potato storage concern, another important step in storing potatoes is ensuring adequate relative humidity levels in the storage shed.
  • Time to Shine
  • Vine Kill and Disease Management After growers apply the desiccants that will kill their potato vines and set the stage for harvest, it's not yet time to park the sprayer. They should plan to return within three or four days to make the first of perhaps two applications of fungicide depending on how fast the vines die.
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U.S. Potato Genebank Works to Improve Potatoes’ Genes

The U.S. Potato Genebank is just that – a bank containing 5,000 populations kept as botanical seed, encompassing about 150 species. “Our responsibility is to collect, classify, preserve, distribute and evaluate potato germplasm,” said John Bamberg, project leader for the genebank. “This is the only genebank for potatoes in the United States.” The genebank, located in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., is part of the National Plant Germplasm System of USDA, which is funded through the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. The program also has direct and indirect support from University of Wisconsin-Madison. The U.S. Potato Genebank began in the late 1940s because potato was a quarantine crop, and most potato germplasm comes from a foreign source – there are only a few potato species native to the southwestern part of the United States. Materials that were imported were potential threats to…  » Read more

Humidity Control Key to Storing Bulk Potatoes

While temperature is probably the most important potato storage concern, another important step in storing potatoes is ensuring adequate relative humidity levels in the storage shed. Relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air at any given temperature, relative to the maximum possible at that same temperature. It is dependent on the temperature, so cold air holds less moisture than warm air. Potatoes lose more water during their first month of storage than any other time in storage. This is caused by wound healing, and can be kept to a minimum by controlling humidity. The optimal level for potatoes in storage is around 95 percent relative humidity, or as high as possible without fully saturating the air, said Gale Kleinkopf, research professor emeritus at the University of Idaho. At 100 percent humidity, water droplets can form on the tubers, which can speed up decay and…  » Read more

Time to Shine

In August, the U.S. potato industry gets its time to shine. Hundreds of growers, researchers and industry members are expected to descend upon Boise, Idaho, for the World Potato Congress. It may not be the Olympics – or the World Cup – but it’s exciting nonetheless to have an event of this scale in our own backyard. In this issue of Spudman, you’ll find information on all you need to know about the World Potato Congress. The preview story, by Monty Cox, WPC project manager, highlights some of the activities going on the week of Aug. 20 during the WPC and Farm Show. We’ve included the schedule for the congress so you can plan your week before you get there – making the best use of your time. The preview stories included in this issue also spotlight some of the educational sessions congress organizers have planned…  » Read more

Disease Control Measures Should Be Taken Right Up Until Harvest

After growers apply the desiccants that will kill their potato vines and set the stage for harvest, it’s not yet time to park the sprayer. They should plan to return within three or four days to make the first of perhaps two applications of fungicide depending on how fast the vines die. “You’ve worked all season to grow a disease-free crop,” said Walt Stevenson, plant pathologist at University of Wisconsin. “The application of vine desiccant is not the time to stop that effort.” In past years, he said, growers were often advised to combine fungicide with the desiccant and do both jobs in one spray application. Now, he said, the recommendation is to apply the vine killer, wait a few days for it to work and then spray with fungicide when some of the foliage is gone, the canopy is more open and coverage will be better. The…  » Read more
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