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July-August 2012

July-August 2012

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  • Beating PCN

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  • National Potato Council
  • Cultivar Corner
  • United Potato Growers of America
  • U.S. Potato Board
  • Spudman 7
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Storage Evolution

Storage Evolution

Walt Sparks. His name is synonymous with potato storage. Potato storage systems have come a long way from the days of old A-frame, non-ventilated buildings. And Sparks is the person most often cited as the first researcher into potato storage theory. You can’t discuss the history and evolution of potato storage systems without his name popping up. Whether speaking with research scientists or business professionals, Walt Sparks will enter the discussion at some point. While Sparks was a research scientist at the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center from 1947 to 1981, his influence in the development of storage systems continues into the 21st century. “Walt was the grandfather of air movement within a storage,” Bob Thornton said. End of ‘seat of pants’ management Thornton and Willy Iritani, each a professor emeritus of horticulture at Washington State University (WSU), are cited by many…  » Read more
Keeping it Clean: Sanitary potato storage promotes healthy tubers

Keeping it Clean: Sanitary potato storage promotes healthy tubers

You’ve made major investments in time, labor and inputs to bring in a healthy crop of potatoes. Now the question is: Have you made the necessary investments in your storage system to protect thehealthofyourcropgoing into storage? You may have brought in a great harvest, but that’s only the first half of the job. Now you have to bring those potatoes to market healthy and with minimal shrinkage. Storage cleaning and disinfection are critical steps to minimizing disease carryover. Mary LeMere, storage research manager at the University of Wisconsin’s Hancock Agricultural Station, said that her focus during the summer is sanitizing storage facilities and anything that comes into contact with the potatoes. “Sanitizing walls, ceilings, floors, plenums, but it’s also sanitizing any equipment that mightbringinair — fansand humidity systems,” LeMere said. Along with the actual storage facility, LeMere said that they sanitize all the trucks transporting…  » Read more
Family Legacy

Family Legacy

From the time he was big enough to stand on a milk crate and grade potatoes, John Christoffel “Stoffel” Probasco has been involved with potatoes on his family’s farm in Chesterfield, N.J. “I’ve been working on the farm since I was 6 or 7,” said Probasco, 38. “I’m particularly grateful for my family and the opportunities I’ve been provided.” A former United States Potato Board (USPB) board member, Probasco has just concluded his sixth year of service to the U.S. potato industry. For two years, he served as the USPB’s finance chairman. Probasco was also a member of the USPB’s Administrative Committee’s Domestic Marketing Committee before ascending to the Executive Committee. “Farming, and especially potatoes, can be a very prohibitive industry to get into,” he said. “It’s very difficult to just start out on your own, but the future of this industry relies on the…  » Read more
Christmas in July

Christmas in July

It’s early summer here in southeast Idaho. Potato fields are in bloom right now. The flowers have such a quiet beauty in their simplicity. I read that in France, King Louis XVI would wear a potato flower in his buttonhole and Queen Marie Antoinette would wear the flowers as a garland in her hair. Of course that’s back when the potato was considered an exotic plant in Europe. I don’t want to overstate the facts, but it almost seems like an early Christmas for the potato industry. The news that Mexico has agreed to join the Trans- Pacific Partnership hit the industry like a lightning bolt — a very welcome lightning bolt, that is. I heard from a number of growers who heralded the news as a great opportunity to facilitate more trade between both countries. You’ll want to read John Keeling’s column on Page…  » Read more
Built with Straw

Built with Straw

Marcus and Jessie Koenig may have the only large potato storage in the world using straw-bale insulated walls. You’ll find them in southwestern Ontario, about an hour’s drive north from Port Huron, Mich. Their system doesn’t rely on stacking the bales and then covering them with plaster. Instead, the walls were built in sections or panels flat on the ground and then assembled. The straw walls were made using a technology developed by Ian Weir, one of the owners of NatureBuilt Wall Systems Inc. “By building in this manner, we are able to build a more consistent product, in climate- controlled conditions with much flatter wall surfaces at a more cost-competitive price,” Weir said. “Another advantage is that because the walls can be built off-site, they can be built in advance and installed as soon as the foundation is ready, greatly speeding up construction time.”…  » Read more
Inhibitor Alternatives

Inhibitor Alternatives

In the fresh potato market, few things are as unwelcome as a spud that looks like it should be planted rather than eaten. Sprouting may be a natural process, but it’s a sure turnoff to shoppers. However, it’s a rare sight in the produce aisle, thanks to some effective sprout inhibitor products. Chloropropham, or CIPC, has been the industry standard for nearly 50 years. It’s still considered a safe and effective compound, but its future is uncertain. The EPA classifies CIPC as a carbamate and has placed limits on the amount of residue that’s allowed on spuds marketed to U.S. consumers. In addition, some export markets have established much lower residue levels and, in some cases, zero tolerance. Not surprisingly, the industry has seen increased interest in alternative sprout inhibitors. Nora Olsen, a University of Idaho potato specialist, and Mary Jo Frazier, a UI research…  » Read more
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