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March 2010

March 2010
  • A Growing Tradition It's a period of transition for the Morris brothers and their Columbian Basin farm, Morris Irrigated Farms, based in Quincy, Wash. As one brother retires from the farming operation, a son returns to join his father and uncle and continue the farming venture into a third generation.
  • Organic Idaho At the Idaho Potato Conference's organic potato production workshop University of Idaho researchers Amber Moore and Nora Olsen along with Jen Miller, sustainable agriculture coordinator for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, gave individual presentations on fertilizing techniques utilizing dried distillers grains, promising varieties based on 2009 results and funding sources for current organic farmers and those in transition to organic production.
  • Seeding Change Reports of the demise of the Russet Burbank may be a little premature, but there is a developing sense that the mighty variety is slowly being retired due to the rising demands for more sustainable varieties.
  • Snowpack, Supply, Something Else
  • Spudman 7 Jeanne Debons has been working with the non-profit organization the Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI) since July 2006 when she returned to Oregon after working overseas for 14 years.
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Columbia Basin family farm looks to the third generation

See Web-exclusive images on the Spudman Facebook fan page here. It's a period of transition for the Morris brothers and their Columbian Basin farm, Morris Irrigated Farms, based in Quincy, Wash. As one brother retires from the farming operation, a son returns to join his father and uncle and continue the farming venture into a third generation. Oldest brother Steve retired from the farming operation at the end of 2009 and Paul and John continue the operation with Paul's 27 year-old son, Trevor, who returned home to take Steve's place and potentially take the Morris farming tradition into a third generation. The Morris' parents, John and Shirley, began farming in the Columbia Basin in 1953, moving from Marysville when the Columbia Basin irrigation district opened. On a warm September, afternoon Paul Morris took time from overseeing the potato harvest to discuss the family operation. Morris is a former chairman…  » Read more

Potato conference highlights new research in organic variety differences

<object width="350" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/WPXIYDEB0os&hl=en_US&fs=1&"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/WPXIYDEB0os&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="350" height="344"></embed></object><br /> At the Idaho Potato Conference's organic potato production workshop University of Idaho researchers Amber Moore and Nora Olsen along with Jen Miller, sustainable agriculture coordinator for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, gave individual presentations on fertilizing techniques utilizing dried distillers grains, promising varieties based on 2009 results and funding sources for current organic farmers and those in transition to organic production. Moore and Olsen told the audience that they found lower glucose levels in tubers fertilized with dried distillers grains, an organically approved waste product from ethanol production. According to Olsen those potatoes with lower sucrose levels stayed greener longer into the growing season, they weren't under dead vines as long as other varieties and they did not have the conversion of starch into sucrose into reducing sugars. Moore said that in-season application of 48…  » Read more

Seeding Change

<object width="350" height="340"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/BckMSTdxATY&hl=en_US&fs=1&"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/BckMSTdxATY&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="350" height="340"></embed></object><br /> Reports of the demise of the Russet Burbank may be a little premature, but there is a developing sense that the mighty variety is slowly being retired due to the rising demands for more sustainable varieties. Phil Nolte, seed potato specialist at the University of Idaho Idaho Falls Extension office, said seed lots of Russet Burbanks, though still No. 1, dropped to 43 percent of certification last year. Ranger came in at No. 2 with 15 percent and Norkotah line selections came in third with 8 percent. Aberdeen Agricultural Research Service researcher Rich Novy identified a number of promising varieties that offer growers options that could result in financial gain while at the same time placating those calling for more sustainable crops. Novy said that Jacqueline Lee, developed by Dave Douches at Michigan State University has shown…  » Read more

Snowpack, Supply, Something Else

As I write this column in early February, I look out my window and see that the slight snowstorm from two days ago has melted away. That's the way this entire winter has been here in Idaho and throughout the Pacific Northwest. A little snow here and there, a few days of bitter arctic cold air dropping down, uninvited, to stay for too long, and then just cold and overcast. It's been an El Nino winter and the lack of accumulating snowpack has growers a little anxious throughout the northwest. A grower from the Klamath Basin I spoke with expressed alarm at the lack of snowpack in his area. They need some big storms to come through during the next two months. Two days ago was Groundhog Day and the news from Punxsutawney, Pa., was that Phil saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter. So be…  » Read more

Spudman 7

Jeanne Debons has been working with the non-profit organization the Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI) since July 2006 when she returned to Oregon after working overseas for 14 years. She received her doctorate in 1986 from Oregon State University under the direction of Mary Powelson in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and Scott Overton of the Statistics Department and had originally worked at the Central Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Redmond, Ore., and then Madras. Debons works out of her home in Bend, Ore., with her husband, who takes care of all the bookkeeping, reports, taxes and database jobs for PVMI. <object width="350" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/mjrNnGgvs94&hl=en_US&fs=1&"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/mjrNnGgvs94&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="350" height="344"></embed></object><br /> 1) What are the best words of advice you’ve received? From my Dad: If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. 2) What are your goals for the next…  » Read more
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