April 2014

April 2014



  • Industry News
  • Cultivar Corner
  • Calendar & Classifieds
  • Advertiser Index
  • Spudman 7


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All Articles

Taking Stock: Long Time Coming

Let’s start off with a note of thanks to Congress for recent passage of the farm bill. It took two years of stops and starts before the House and Senate reached a bipartisan consensus. It was a long time coming but the benefits appear to justify the wait. John Keeling’s column on Page 36 discusses the positive measures in the bill that impact the potato industry. Now, maybe we can move forward on expansion of the shipping zone for potatoes into Mexico and inclusion of white potatoes in WIC vouchers. We’re trying something a little different in this month’s issue. Instead of the traditional grower profile anchoring the April issue, we’re focusing on the topic of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as the centerpiece. Known by a variety of acronyms, UAS, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, they’ve created quite a debate across the country. In…  » Read more
Flying into the Future

Flying into the Future

Whether you call them unmanned aviation systems (UAS) or unmanned aviation vehicles (UAV) or the more common designation of drone, the eye in the sky may be the next tool in the agricultural arsenal of the 21st  century farmer. For almost 100 years aviation has been a tool in the agriculture farm shed. The first documented use of an airplane as a crop duster in the U.S. was in 1921 in Ohio. Since then aerial applications have become a common component in agriculture. The UAS or drone technology, first developed for use in the defense industry, has crossed over and is being developed for multiple uses in the civil airspace of the U.S. From new applications in agriculture to home delivery of packages, the aircraft are being heralded in the media as another example of the advancing pace of technology in our daily lives. Jeff…  » Read more
Preparing for the Future

Preparing for the Future

Global warming may be the farthest thing from the minds of U.S. farmers after the arctic assault experienced by much of the country last winter. One frigid year notwithstanding, scientists still take climate change pretty seriously. It might be worthwhile for potato growers to know what experts are saying about the potential impacts on spuds. Studies so far have painted a mixed picture. Like other plants, potatoes take in carbon dioxide, the gas most often associated with the buildup of greenhouse gases. Scientists say CO2 has a fertilization effect and simulation models suggest that, for many crops, this may partially offset some negative effects from climate change. David Fleisher, an agricultural engineer with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), wanted to find out how potatoes would respond to increased CO2 levels under drought conditions. He and his colleagues at the ARS Crop Systems and Global…  » Read more

Years of Farm Bill Labor Bears Fruit

Over the past four years, the farm bill has been an agenda item at every NPC meeting, including the Potato D.C. Fly-In where we lobby Congress on our issues. I’ve personally traveled tens of thousands of miles to speak at dozens of state meetings urging growers to contact their members of Congress in support of agriculture policy that benefits specialty crop growers. NPC has written countless columns, press releases, and social media posts imploring those in the industry to not give up the fight. At last, we can all breathe a sigh of relief at a job well done. On Feb. 4, the U.S. Senate passed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (more commonly referred to as the 2014 Farm Bill) by a decisive vote of 68 to 32. The week before, the House passed the bill by a wide bipartisan vote of 251-166. Days after…  » Read more