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April 2012

April 2012

Features

Departments & Columns

  • Spudman 7: Keith Kelling
  • Taking Stock: Getting down to business
  • Cultivar Corner: Wanets
  • The Guenther Report
  • National Potato Council
  • United Potato Growers of America
  • United States Potato Board

 

 

 

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All Articles

Getting down to business…

Getting down to business…

I can't believe that winter is behind us, but it's a fact that planting is underway in the Columbia Basin and the dirt will be flying soon throughout southeast Idaho and the rest of the northern states. I just returned from three days in Washington, D.C., at the National Potato Council's Potato D.C. Fly-In. I came away equally impressed with the combined efforts of potato growers from all over the country taking the industry's issues to their Congressional representatives and with the senators, representatives and federal policy makers who spoke on these issues during two days of presentations. Coming to Washington was an interesting mix of veteran potato growers as well as members from the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. It's a great opportunity for growers to lobby their Congressional representatives as well as develop the skills necessary to lead the industry into the future. You…  » Read more
Leading by example

Leading by example

Driving through Maine, you experience a land of two-lane blacktop roads that wind through copses of hardwood trees. On this autumn day, the first Saturday of October, the sky is azure blue and cloudless. There's a razor-sharp crispness in the air, a brisk cool warmed by rays of the sun. Earlier in the week, it was rain followed by a sprinkling of snow. But today, the Crane Brothers' farming operation is taking full advantage of the first sunny day in a week to wrap up the harvest. The sign on the barn says Crane Brothers, but these days it's the Crane cousins who are continuing the expansion of the family farm in Exeter, in central Maine. Steve and Jim Crane are continuing to grow and develop what was once a relatively small 50-acre fresh-potato operation started by their grandfather in the 1940s. Their dads, Neil…  » Read more
Building a better spud

Building a better spud

Researchers nationwide are searching their shelves for potato varieties that produce lower acrylamide levels when processed into french fries. Rich Novy, a plant geneticist in Aberdeen, Idaho, who works for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and other researchers are developing potatoes with lower levels of glucose, a reducing sugar, and an amino acid called asparagine. Combined, they form acrylamide when heated at high temperatures. Acrylamide is a compound discovered in cooked food in 2002 by Swedish researchers and is suspected of being carcinogenic at extremely high levels. Although subsequent studies have found no link between levels of acrylamide ingestion and cancer, potato processors and growers are being proactive and are halfway through a four-year study to identify potato varieties with lower levels of acrylamide following processing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies haven't determined if acrylamide presents a health…  » Read more
Keeping weeds to a minimum

Keeping weeds to a minimum

Potato growers can add a new weapon to their weed- control arsenal for the 2012 season with Reflex, a Syngenta herbicide that has shown a lot of promise in university research trials. Reflex has been available for several years, but wasn't labeled for potatoes until 2011. "Herbicides are usually developed for crops other than potatoes, and Reflex was listed for cotton and soybeans," said Pamela J.S. Hutchinson, a University of Idaho potato cropping systems specialist. "None of the herbicides were developed specifically for potatoes. They were developed for another crop first, and that is the challenge in getting herbicides for potatoes." Reflex is a pre-emergence herbicide that inhibits protox, an enzyme in chlorophyll production. Applied through a ground sprayer or overhead sprinkler irrigation system, it has shown excellent control of pigweed and nightshade weeds, typically at 90 percent over the course of a season. While…  » Read more
Science of psyllid biology

Science of psyllid biology

Little is known about the biology of potato psyllids in the Pacific Northwest. Even less is known about its management in potatoes grown in this region. The following article is based on information on potato psyllids from other states, limited research and observations on potato psyllids and zebra chip in the Pacific Northwest and our general knowledge of the pest, potato pest management and insecticides registered on potatoes. This document has been reviewed by more than a dozen entomologists and researchers working on potato psyllid and it is our best attempt at providing growers and potato pest management decision makers with information regarding management of this pest. The potato psyllid is a phloem-feeding insect that has an extensive host range of at least 20 plant families, but reproducing mostly on the potato and nightshade family (Solanaceae). This insect has been very costly to cultivated solanaceous…  » Read more
Zebra Chip and the Columbia Basin experience in 2011

Zebra Chip and the Columbia Basin experience in 2011

No longer breaking news to anyone in the potato world, Zebra Chip was found in the Columbia Basin in 2011. This bacterial disease vectored by the potato psyllid is known for causing substantial damage to potatoes in Texas and farther south. Plant death comes relatively quickly once infected. And unfortunately, once the psyllid feeds on an infected plant, the insect will always retain the bacterium and can infect additional plants. The bacterium can also be passed on to their eggs, so even their offspring contain the bacterium and can infect plants. This past season, the Columbia Basin had infection and damage ranging from none to very light to extensive. Most fields had little or no damage, particularly those located in the central and northern Basin. However, several fields were extensively damaged in the southern Basin. What we sawFoliar symptoms caused by ZC are very similar…  » Read more
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