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March 2012

March 2012

Features

Departments & Columns

Spudman is pleased to make available a selection of the articles from our March issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

 

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A family legacy

A family legacy

Kevin Searle is the general manager for General Potato and Onion Distributors of Idaho (GPOD) in Shelley, Idaho. Searle has been packing and shipping Russet Burbank potatoes for the fresh market with GPOD for 23 years. Raised on a family farm, Searle also farmed independently for five years and represents the third generation of his family working in the potato industry. A former member of United States Potato Board (USPB), Searle served as an administrative committee member on the Domestic Marketing Committee. Searle also is a past chairman of the Idaho Grower Shipper Association. He just completed his second term as the chairman for the Idaho and Eastern Oregon Potato Committee and is a previous chairman and current member of the Idaho Potato Commission's Ag Affairs Committee. Searle is a graduate of the 2006 Potato Industry Leadership Institute class and also completed the United Fresh…  » Read more
Protecting tuber quality: Potato seed treatments set solid foundation for successful season

Protecting tuber quality: Potato seed treatments set solid foundation for successful season

Seed treatments help protect your investment, while laying a solid foundation for the remainder of the growing season. Willie Kirk, plant pathologist at Michigan State University, said growers in Michigan must be vigilant against three main diseases: seedborne late blight, rhizoctonia and fusarium seed-piece decay. "What we recommend are products with mancozeb components," Kirk said. "Maxim 4FS, followed by a mancozeb dust treatment. We don't like dust treatments from a health standpoint, but they enhance suberization and prevent seed-to-seed spread of disease at cutting." The Maxim 4FS treats silver scurf, rhizoctonia and fusarium immediately, followed by some treatment containing mancozeb to prevent the transmission of late blight. "The reason I like mancozeb: It prevents the spread of late blight at cutting," Kirk said. "When we do it in the lab, it takes 30 seconds of contact with the inocula to spread late blight." Kirk said…  » Read more
Eye on psyllids

Eye on psyllids

One year, it's the potato tuber worm; another year, it's the beet leafhopper. This year's public enemy insect is the potato psyllid. At both the Idaho Potato Conference and Washington/Oregon potato conference, the psyllid was foremost on the agenda of everyone attending. Last fall's discovery of potato psyllids and zebra chip disease transmitted by psyllids in the Columbia Basin, Hermiston, Ore., and across the Columbia River in McNary, Wash., has grabbed the undivided attention of growers throughout the Pacific Northwest. It's not as if psyllids just arrived in the United States. According to USDA-Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Joseph Munyaneza, Ph.D., they were first found in Saltillo, Mexico, in 1994, and they crossed the border into Texas in 2000. Munyaneza spoke at both conferences on potato psyllid and zebra chip disease. Munyaneza, a research entomologist at the at the Yakima ARS lab, described the aboveground symptoms…  » Read more
History of irrigation

History of irrigation

There have been a lot of innovations in agriculture and the potato industry throughout the years. From the first self-powered tractors to today's GPS-guided, air-conditioned behemoths. Potato harvesters, planters, windrowers and climate-controlled storage sheds have all made giant strides in improving the means, quality and yield of the crop. However, it all comes down to water in agriculture. Without a reliable water source and without an efficient and effective means to get that water to your plants, all the newest equipment and latest innovations won't do you much good come harvest time.The irrigation companies profiled here share a pattern of entrepreneurial development. All are now global, multinational corporations taking the green revolution of irrigation to the far corners of the world. In Robert Morgan's book, "Water and the Land: A History of American Irrigation," he traces the development of field irrigation, from surface irrigation to…  » Read more
Retaining nitrogen in soil: Nutrient demands vary from cultivar to cultivar

Retaining nitrogen in soil: Nutrient demands vary from cultivar to cultivar

Getting the proper nutrition to your potatoes is an essential element in maximizing your crop's quality and yield. There are 17 essential nutrients necessary for plants to complete their growth cycle. Three - carbon, oxygen and hydrogen - are supplied primarily through air and water. The remaining 14 come primarily from soil and inputs. Nutrients can be added to the soil in a number of ways, from soil amendments such as manure or compost to commercial fertilizer. The three primary macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Secondary macronutrients are sulfur, calcium and magnesium. There are a number of factors that determine how much of each nutrient should be applied to your crop: Yield potential, variety, remaining nutrients in the soil, previous crop residues, amount and types of soil amendments, soil type, pathogen pressure and previous year's crop. The nitrogen demands of an early-maturing cultivar, such…  » Read more
Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

The days are longer and the ground is starting to awaken. The soil seems to swell with fertile anticipation for the spring rains and growing warmth. Yep, it's time to get to work. It's planting time, and that entails everything to get your crops in the ground. These are the days you try to squeeze 30 hours out of a normal 24, and somehow, someway, you find the means to defy natural law and make time slow down. This month's feature profile is on Kevin Searle, the general manager of GPOD, a fresh-pack operation in Shelley, Idaho. For more than 20 years, Searle has been shipping Idaho potatoes to retail and foodservice businesses on the East Coast. Searle is a firm believer in not only the nutritional value of potatoes but in their economical value in delivering that nutrition. His is a positive message for…  » Read more

Research funding critical to success

By John KeelingExecutive Vice President & CEONational Potato Council America's agriculture industry didn't become the greatest in the world just because it was blessed with bountiful land and hard-working farmers; it rose to the top due in large part to our considerable and ongoing commitment to agriculture research. For the potato industry, the importance of continuing this research commitment cannot be overstated. The application of research-driven production techniques and technologies has driven dramatic improvements in potato yields. Between 1990 and 2010, the per acre yield for U.S. fall harvested potatoes increased by over 70 percent, from 295 cwt to 410 cwt. Unfortunately, vital research advances are in jeopardy as research and Extension positions are being cut at many state universities. It should come as no surprise then that in a 2011 national survey of potato growers conducted by the National Potato Council (NPC), 47 percent…  » Read more

Five keys to growing fresh retail sales

By Don LadhoffRetail marketing consultantU.S. Potato Board One of the highlights of the fresh breakouts at Potato Expo 2012 was a presentation covering new research that the United States Potato Board (USPB) conducted into the potato shopper, studying perceptions and behaviors before and during the shopping trip. The presentation stressed five key findings, and the implications they hold for retailers seeking to grow their potato sales. USPB's landmark shopper study The study, conducted in late 2011 with more than 1,900 primary food shoppers, found that fully 91 percent of fresh potato purchases are planned, representing a significant increase from research conducted just one year earlier. The study also found the potato shopper is more prepared than other shoppers, indexing higher for reading circulars, clipping coupons, making a shopping list and planning out their meals in advance. Yet once in the store, these same potato shoppers…  » Read more

Cultivar Corner: Lelah

Parentage: S440 x ND3828-5 Developers: University of Wisconsin-Madison Plant Variety Protection: Pending Incentives for production: Attractive and uniform tubers with long-term (9 months) and coldchipping ability (<47F). Specific gravity is high. Lelah is less susceptible to common scab thanSnowden, and tuber glycoalkaloid levels are significantly lower than for Snowden. Morphological Characteristics Plant: Medium-sized vine with white flowers. Vine has semi-erect growth habit. Lelah averages about 2.2 stems per hill. Flower production is high with abundant pollen and medium to high fruit production. Tubers: Bright white color with smooth skin texture. Very uniform tubers, with round-ovalshape, medium thickness, and very shallow eyes. Agronomic Characteristics Vine Maturity: Medium-early. Lelah is about 14 days earlier than Snowden. Yield Potential: Medium. Yield potential is lower than for Snowden. Specific Gravity: High (higher than Snowden). Culinary Quality: Best suited for chipping. Boiled potatoes do not produce after-cookingdarkening and tuber consistency…  » Read more
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