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November/December 2011

November/December 2011

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Of Families and Anniversaries

Of Families and Anniversaries

It's the end of October and a cold wind is rattling the window and heralding the approaching winter as I write this column. I've just spent the past month at the polar opposites of the nation's potato growing regions. The end of September I spent a week visiting growers in Klamath Falls and the first week of October was spent visiting with growers and researchers in Maine. I owe a big thank you to John Keeling of the National Potato Council and Don Flannery of the Maine Potato Board for giving me the opportunity to visit with the growers throughout Maine. In fact, this month's centerpiece story on Mark Tarr and Tarr Farms comes from my trip to Aroostook County, The County, in Maine parlance. His family has been farming some of the same land for the past four generations. Family and multi generations farming…  » Read more
All in the Family

All in the Family

Mark Tarr was born to be a Maine potato farmer. It's in his DNA - a simple fact of life. When all eight of your great-great grandfathers were farmers in Aroostook County, referred to as "The County" by Maine denizens, then the odds are pretty good that you will find yourself working that rocky Maine soil, growing potatoes. "I farmed with my grandfather and I farmed with my father, so it was all natural, just to step into it," Tarr said about his life's work. "It was a great way to spend more time with my father. In the summer when he'd go to work, if he didn't wake me up to take me with him I'd ride my bicycle to work, and I'd generally be mad at him for not waking me up to go with him." Tarr estimated that he spends more time…  » Read more
Seed Treatments

Seed Treatments

Seed treatments shouldn't be overlooked even though they may constitute only a small part of a grower's overall disease and insect control program. A variety of fungicides and insecticides now are available for growers to apply to seed pieces prior to planting or as in-furrow treatments.Because disease and insect pressures differ from one growing region to another, producers should carefully select those products that best fit their situations. Many of the products now available provide effective control of multiple disease and/or insect threats in a single formulation. As always, apply according to label directions.Below is a list of potato seed treatments currently on the market: Maxim 4FS (Syngenta) - A liquid potato seed treatment that controls rhizoctonia, fusarium seed piece decay and silver scurf. Maxim 4FS provides long-lasting activity at very low use rates, according to the manufacturer. One quart treats approximately 40,000 pounds of…  » Read more

Russet Burbanks Hold Steady

There are a few surprises when comparing the 2011 certified seed potato acres with the 2010 statistics but there was nothing surprising about the number one seed potato. Russet Burbank remains the most popular seed potato by a wide margin over the number two seed potato variety, the Frito-Lay varieties. Rumors of the decline of the Russet Burbank have proved to nothing more than idle talk at this time. Released in 1914, it retains its popularity by a margin of over 14,000 acres to the Frito-Lay varieties. And once again Idaho is the national leader in Russet Burbank seed acreage with 15,123 acres out of a national total of 24,078, almost 63 percent of the national production, nothing surprising there. As Russet Burbanks lead the nation in total acreage so Idaho leads the nation in total seed acreage with 34,766 acres, 30 percent of the…  » Read more
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