As part of my work here at Spudman magazine, I have the opportunity to travel to various trade shows and conferences across the country. Its during these trips that I get a chance to plant seeds for the potato industry.
Because the airline industry crams people into an aluminum can, it makes the flight more bearable if youre friendly toward the seatmate youre inevitably going to be touching for the next few hours, depending on the flight. Talk is usually superficial, chatting about destinations and weather, but when the conversation turns to jobs, my seatmate usually perks up.
After initially exclaiming that they love the name of the magazine, Ill often hear about how much they love potatoes. On a flight from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids, Mich., I listened to a flight attendant tell me all about her favorite recipes, from hash browns and home fries
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With commodity and specialty crop prices high and optimism for 2008 also high, landowners are looking to get a piece of those profits by turning to different types of land rental contracts that buck traditions.
Many growers act as both a tenant and a landlord in a given year. Crop rotation schedules often require potato growers to work with neighbors to restore soil tilth and reduce pest and disease pressure in their fields.
The rent for a piece of farmland can be paid in various ways, either with part of the crop or cash, but there should always be a contract that outlines and anticipates any problem areas so the agreement is equitable, said Ben Eborn, Extension educator in Teton City, Idaho.
By equitable, we mean fair for both the landlord and tenant, he said. They can be written or oral. I highly recommend the written form, but
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Seeding rate is often measured by the number of trucks used; if X number of trucks have been used, Y number of acres should be seeded, and vice versa.
But the size of the seed pieces and the spacing of the planting could affect the total yield and profile of the crop. Researchers at the University of Idaho sought to find out if seeding a field at 20 cwt. would give the same yield as seeding the field at a 13-inch spacing.
The seeding rate study used Russett Norkotah, Ranger Russett and Altura varieties hand-cut to 1.5, 2.25 and 3 ounces. The three size treatments were then planted at a spacing of 8, 12 and 16 inches. A seeding rate of 20.4 cwt. was the same for 1.5-ounce seed planted at 8 inches, 2.25-ounce seed at 12 inches and 3-ounce seed at 16 inches.
Yield was affected
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Florida potato production is counter-cyclical. While growers in other states are looking at snow-covered fields, tinkering with their equipment and watching their storage sheds get lower and lower, growers in Florida are planting a winter crop,
Frank Johns, owner of Tater Farms in Hastings, Fla., is a fourth-generation potato grower whos watched the window for Florida growers get shorter as storage techniques and new varieties have gotten better. Johns runs the farm with his wife, Polly, and his youngest son, Christopher, joined the farm in charge of planting after graduating from the University of Florida in December. His sons both graduated with degrees in building construction, so time will tell if Tater Farms will be managed by a fifth generation of Johns.
We would like for the farm to continue, but it might end with my generation, Johns said. It is a way of life and takes
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