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November/December 2013

November/December 2013

Features

Columns

  • Taking Stock
  • National Potato Council
  • United Potato Growers of America
  • United States Potato Board

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Taking Stock — Trends and Conferences

A lot has happened since the last time I sat down to write this column, so let’s cut to the chase and talk potatoes. First, Blair Richardson’s been on the job as USPB president and CEO since August but I’d be remiss not to welcome him to the job in this issue of Spudman. I had an opportunity to meet Blair at the Idaho Grower Shippers meeting in Sun Valley. We have a brief profile of Blair on page ??. You also can view a video interview at Spudman.com. This month’s grower profile features Nebraska seed grower Joe Thompson. Joe and his father moved their farming enterprise from North Dakota to northwestern Nebraska in 1995 and have built a successful operation during the past 18 years. There was a learning curve for the Thompsons during those first years in Nebraska but today they are growing…  » Read more
Southern Migration

Southern Migration

Location, location, location. It’s what prompted Joe Thompson and his family to move from the Grafton and Park River, N.D. region and relocate in Alliance, Neb. to grow seed potatoes. In 1995, Joe and his father, Dan Thompson purchased their farm, which lies west of Nebraska’s Sand Hills, and began operating as Thompson Seed Potato Partnership (TSPP). Joe Thompson is a United States Potato Board (USPB) member, representing Nebraska, and serves on the USPB’s South Central caucus. He also has served as president of the Nebraska Potato Certification Association and as a member of the National Potato Council (NPC) Board of Directors. At TSPP he is a partner and farm manager. It was a learning experience for the Thompsons when they started growing seed potatoes in western Nebraska in 1995. “Those first few years were an education and challenging as we learned irrigation and had…  » Read more
Aloha from Hawaii

Aloha from Hawaii

Hawaii has become the hub for winter grow out of seed potatoes. Four more certified seed potato organizations, Idaho, Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin, will be joining Montana and Minnesota on the north shore of Oahu for certified seed tests. It’s going to be a crowded and busy winter grow season for Milton Agader and Al Medrano, the owners of Twin Bridge Farms, in the Aloha State. Montana has been coming to Twin Bridge Farms since 2001. Nina Zidack, director of Montana’s seed potato certification program, said that the farm is an excellent location because of the quick turnaround from planting to testing for Potato Virus Y (PVY). “Forty days after planting our potatoes we can perform visual inspections and pick leaves for virus testing,” Zidack said. “In Hawaii the plants grow extremely fast. You have a short window for observations and for leaf sampling.” Mike…  » Read more

100 Years of PAA and Certified Seed Potatoes

One hundred years ago this autumn, U.S. potato farmers were harvesting and storing their first crop of certified seed potatoes. These pioneering farmers working with Extension professors across the northern U.S. created seed potato certification agencies based on European programs, which was a system that had helped increase potato yield and quality in Germany, the Netherlands and other old-world potato producing countries.  There were researchers responsible for much of the work in establishing seed potato certification in North America. One of the most influential, Professor James G. Milward, was a potato Extension specialist from Wisconsin. Milward began working with potato farmers in 1907. In 1912 he helped organize the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. By 1914, the first crop of certified seed produced in the US was sold and by 1915, Milward had developed the first published list of certified seed potato farmers. Milward…  » Read more
African Adventure

African Adventure

This past spring I received an invitation to assist the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) in Kenya to establish routine ELISA testing and Tissue Blotting Immunoassay tests or TBIA. The assignment was sponsored by CNFA, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. and the grant was provided by USAID.  ADC is a parastatal organization in Kenya, similar to a quasi-government organization. Potatoes are the second major crop in Kenya after maize.  ADC has the capacity to produce about 5 percent of the seed potatoes needed in Kenya.  This would be certified seed, but there is a lot of farmer to farmer seed that is also used.  Currently, over 110,000 hectares of potatoes (271816 acres) are grown in the country, mostly in the highland areas of western Kenya.  The elevation of the Molo region is 8200 ft. I was there the last three weeks of June (their winter)…  » Read more
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