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May 2008

May 2008
  • Beneficial Bugs Every field is teeming with life, from nematodes to bacteria and fungi to insects, and there's a benefit to keeping it that way.
  • Building a Championship Team
  • Polatis Farms The days are getting longer in Idaho and the snow is melting. Spring planting is just around the corner. It's the prelude to the start of the busiest time of year for farmers.
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Use chemicals wisely to preserve good insects and nematodes

Every field is teeming with life – from nematodes to bacteria and fungi to insects – and there’s a benefit to keeping it that way. There are often too many beneficial organisms lost during a broad-spectrum chemical application, so Bill Snyder, a professor of entomology at Washington State University, recommends using selective insecticides and biological controls to kill the bad bugs while preserving “the beneficials.” Parasitoid wasps are beneficial insects because they kill aphids that can introduce disease to potato plants. The wasps can also affect aphid behavior, with dying aphids flying to a “safe” location out of the field before dying. Spiders and predatory insects like ladybugs, damsel bugs and praying mantises are generalists that kill a range of potato disease vectors. “They all feed on whatever they can catch so they’re not as picky as the parasitoid wasp,” Snyder said. Nearly half the bugs that can…  » Read more

Building a Championship Team

I was never a huge college basketball fan, despite being around some excellent teams. Growing up in Michigan, I remember the years University of Michigan and Michigan State University won the NCAA tournament, and when I lived in Kentucky that state university’s basketball program was still good. But I didn’t go to any of those universities, and had no connection besides living in the state they get their name and funding from. It wasn’t until I was enrolled at the University of Kansas that I really saw how exciting college athletics are – and there aren’t many programs that get as excited about basketball as Kansas fans. For once, I was part of a community that would rally around an idea – and although true fans may criticize the team when it’s doing poorly, they’ll be the first to defend it to outsiders. Suffering through the…  » Read more

Idaho potato growers predict good season for grain, weak for potatoes

Idaho’s potato farmers are talking about high market prices. High market prices for wheat, that is. In the past, wheat has always been considered a rotational crop with marginal profit, but this year wheat has taken on the status of a cash crop for many farmers. The price of wheat has farmers throughout the state shaking their heads in amazement. Potato farmers across the spectrum – fresh, processed, value-added and seed – agreed that current prices of wheat and grains in general are a much-needed financial boon for potato farmers and could help alleviate the glut of potatoes on the market by taking some fields out of potato production. At the same time, escalating prices of fuel, fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides are blunting the profit picture for all farmers. Merrill Haney, a fresh potato farmer from Blackfoot, Idaho, said he’s planning on planting about the same acreage of…  » Read more

Idaho grower is potato council’s 2008 president

The days are getting longer in Idaho and the snow is melting. Spring planting is just around the corner. It’s the prelude to the start of the busiest time of year for farmers. Richard Polatis’ days are divided into preparing for the coming potato season, monitoring world grain prices for his grain elevator business and working on his responsibilities as the new president of the National Potato Council (NPC). Polatis has been growing potatoes in Idaho’s Bingham County for 38 years. He and his older brother, Dan, formed a partnership in 1970. They started with 700 acres, some of it rented, and grew from there. "Originally, we were going to start with 300 and then we took in another brother," Polatis said. The other brother would eventually opt out of the business, and Richard and Dan kept on going and growing. Today, "we’re right close to 10,000 acres,"…  » Read more
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