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May-June 2012

May-June 2012

Features

  • Water Worlds
  • Conserving Water

Departments & Columns

  • National Potato Council
  • United Potato Growers of America
  • U.S. Potato Board
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All Articles

Taking stock: A community of potato growers

Another planting season has come and gone here in the Pacific Northwest. It's been warm and dry for most of the spring. Now we could use some rain. Down in the south and southeast, harvest has begun, and a Florida grower reports that they've had a good growing season and the crop is looking good. In the time I've been editing Spudman, it's been my observation that potato growers are a tight-knit group with long-term ties to their local community. I often meet third- or fourth-generation growers with strong ties to their local communities. I think you'll discover in this month's profile of Sid Staunton, a grower whose commitment is not only to his local community, but to the national community of potato growers and extends to the potato industry as a whole.The Stauntons have been farming in Tulelake and the Klamath Basin for three…  » Read more
Community leader

Community leader

USPB chairman seeks to 'make the industry healthy' Driving across the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, leaving a plume of dust in his wake, Sid Staunton points to a coyote running across a field of cut alfalfa on an ancient lake bed. In the distant northwest, the snow-capped extinct volcano Mount Shasta looms. "It's our sentinel," said Staunton, pointing toward Shasta. "That's always our sign of what the day's going to be like. If she's sitting in the clear, it's going to be a great day and if she's got a big wind cloud on her, you better tie down the wheel lines." On this late-September morning, the peak stands out against the cloudless blue sky as Staunton maneuvers his Chevy Silverado across the checkerboard of fields in the refuge. "This is the Medicine Lake Highlands," he said, describing the geology of the area. Native Americans…  » Read more
Desiccant decisions

Desiccant decisions

Chemicals, variety, timing affect vine kill Vine desiccation is an important decision during the growing season, potentially affecting tubers well into the storage season. Many factors impact vine kill, including chemicals, variety and timing. Knowing each can lead to a profitable harvest of healthy potatoes. Vine kill plays a vital role before harvest. It can control weeds and tuber size, promote senescence and aid maturity - but not a lot of vine desiccation research is being performed today, because most of the chemicals available on the market are active in killing the plant. "Research is done primarily if new products come out or if somebody wants to look at a new (chemical) use or new variety," said Mark Pavek, Washington State University potato Extension specialist. "There are not a lot of reasons research is being done, because most growers know how to use these products."…  » Read more
Doing the math

Doing the math

Shippers see increased weight limits for trucks Don Meacham said the math is simple when it comes to increasing truck weight limits and the benefit that will have for shippers. While it would require adding what he calls a "pup" to the back of the trailer his operation typically hauls, the purchase or lease of that equipment is essentially the only cost increase involved. "The cost is minimal when you spread it out over the length of the lifetime of that trailer," Meacham said. "Your costs are essentially going to be the same as they are now. You do the math." But increasing weight limits to 97,000 pounds from the current national limit of 80,000 pounds means Meacham's operation could haul roughly 20 percent more goods for just a slight uptick in cost. That's one of the reasons Wada Farms in Pingree, Idaho, is in…  » Read more
Looking back: 50 years in potato production

Looking back: 50 years in potato production

Potato planting has gone from two- and four-row planters to six- and even up to 12 row planters, without anymore workers on the machines, poking seed to flow better. Instead of people, there are row monitors and seed piece counters. GPS and auto-steer mechanisms have taken the place of row markers on the planters. The payloader replaced the men filling the planters by hand. Instead of cutting seed of any size, we have sized seed and separate the B size tubers. Chemical control went from DDT and Paris Green to soil-applied insecticides. Soil-applied fungicides came on the scene, reducing soil-borne pathogens such as Rhizoctonia. In earlier years, contact chemicals were mostly applied on the foliage, then came the pre-emergence chemicals and the systemic and trans-laminar fungicides. Black dot disease appeared, after pink eye and pink rot. A simple PVY disease became PVYo, PVYn, PVYn:o, PVYntn.…  » Read more
The traceability alphabet: Seeking to create an ‘integrated whole’

The traceability alphabet: Seeking to create an ‘integrated whole’

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has the undivided attention of the food industry right now. The legislation was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. Since then, FDA has been seeking input from the food industry as it prepares to write rules for four main areas of concern: food facilities, animal feed facilities, foreign supplier verification programs and produce safety rules. A recent editorial in The New York Times criticized the administration and the Office of Management Budget (OMB) for failing to meet a January 2012 deadline to publish drafts of proposed rules to allow for public comment. Joseph Levitt, a partner at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, D.C., said it's not surprising that it has taken FDA a long time to promulgate the proposed rules for the four main areas of concern. "I think that FDA is trying to…  » Read more
Spudman 7: Q&A with David Parish

Spudman 7: Q&A with David Parish

David Parish is an industry veteran in snack food manufacturing, agricultural production, agricultural research and development and procurement. In 2008, Parish embarked on a new business opportunity when he started AIS Consulting LLC, an agricultural consulting and research and development-oriented firm located in Allen, Texas. AIS provides business and technical solutions to a select group of clients in the potato industry. Parish grew up in rural South and North Dakota, graduating from Chamberlain High School in Chamberlain, S.D. After high school, he moved to Fargo, N.D., where he received a bachelor of science in biological sciences from North Dakota State University. Parish currently lives in Allen, Texas, where he enjoys spending time with his daughter, Paige, and doing all things outdoors. What are the best words of advice you've received? Today is irreplaceable, it is your decision to choose if it is going to be…  » Read more
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