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January 2008

January 2008
  • Happy New Year!
  • M&M Heath Farms Organic potatoes account for only 0.4 percent of retail potato sales, but in 2007 the segment grew by 30 percent. There are more markets available for organic spuds, but it?s been slow building.
  • Quality Cooperation A North Dakota potato grower, a plant breeding lab at Michigan State University and a minituber seed grower in Michigan are working together to improve the quality of red potatoes from the Red River Valley.
  • The Search for Zebra Chip Zebra chip is the newest disease to affect potato production, and researchers are looking at a range of possible vectors of the disorder.
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Happy New Year!

While it’s hard to believe that 2007 is coming to an end and 2008 is about to begin, the staff at Spudman has been eagerly – and anxiously – awaiting this issue for quite some time. You see, for the staff at Spudman, the new year brings more than confetti and soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions. 2008 also is ushering in a new era for Spudman. By now you’ve noticed that we have an entirely new look – both outside and in – and we’re proud to unveil it in this first issue of 2008. The new year is always a time to reflect on that past and look to the future. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing – for many months. This redesign has been in the works for a long time, and we’ve worked hard to ensure that this magazine you’ve come to trust will…  » Read more

Variety of markets builds organic acreage in Idaho

Organic potatoes account for only 0.4 percent of retail potato sales, but in 2007 the segment grew by 30 percent. There are more markets available for organic spuds, but it’s been slow building. Mike Heath of M&M Heath Farms in Beuhl, Idaho, grew his first 20-acre plot of certified organic potatoes in the mid-1980s, but the first years weren’t profitable. He didn’t have customers willing to pay the added premium for organic produce. He didn’t give up on them, but the following year he cut back the acreage and focused on growing markets for his products. Heath now grows, organically, 16 varieties of potatoes on 50 acres. He farms an additional 450 acres that he uses for rotation. Of those acres, 140 are dry beans, 130 are alfalfa or other kinds of hay and another 100 acres is grain, either wheat or barley. The rest of the…  » Read more

Line straining improves varieties for Red River Valley grower

A North Dakota potato grower, a plant breeding lab at Michigan State University and a minituber seed grower in Michigan are working together to improve the quality of red potatoes from the Red River Valley. The project is the result of a conversation at the 2006 National Potato Council’s Seed Seminar between Tom Campbell of Tri-Campbell Farms in North Dakota and Don Sklarczyk of Sklarczyk Seed Farm in Johannesburg, Mich. A potato variety may start off with few undesirable qualities, but over the years those poor qualities become more prominent, said Tom Campbell, co-owner of Tri-Campbell Farms, a grower/shipper/packer in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. Tri-Campbell works closely with breeding programs to develop new varieties. In 2007, the company had about 110 varieties in its test plots, said Campbell, co-owner of the company. But the company also is focusing on its existing varieties to…  » Read more

Vectors of the disorder remain elusive

Zebra chip is the newest disease to affect potato production, and researchers are looking at a range of possible vectors of the disorder. Zebra chip potatoes first appeared in Mexico in 1994 and then on the Texas side of the border in 2000. Since then, zebra chip potatoes have been found Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and California. The disorder hasn’t appeared in other states, although people are looking for it, said Gary Secor, professor of plant pathology at North Dakota State University. The disease can be difficult to find when surveying a field. In plants, zebra chip can resemble other disorders such as purple top wilt commonly caused by phytoplasma, leaf roll virus or discoloration and collapse. “If you want to know if you have zebra chip, you have to look at the tubers,” said Joe Munyaneza, research entomologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service…  » Read more
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