Final thoughts on Idaho Potato Conference

Well, the proverbial dust has settled from last week's Idaho Potato Conference, now everyone is moving on to Kennewick for this week's Washington-Oregon Conference and Ag Show.

I'll be there with a limited supply of Spudman stocking caps for those filling out our annual survey. Even if we run out of the caps, please stop by and complete a survey, to talk, tell me what you want to see in the magazine or just to pick up a "Proud to be a Spudman" bumper sticker.

If Washington and Oregon growers have similar issues as Idaho growers, and they always do, there will be lots of talk about low grower returns and the need for a reduction in acreage to return to a decent GRI that growers enjoyed a few years ago.

One of the more common complaints I heard came from seed growers who have received few orders for 2010 season. The seed growers I spoke, to a man, with concurred that part of the problem was due to the lack of contracts in the process market. Until the processors issue contracts and acreage can be determined none of the process growers are ordering seed.

And everyone is waiting for the process contracts in Washington are announced before making a move. With a flat market and a current surplus, everyone is being rather guarded in their estimates of how many acres processors will contract for in the coming year.

Discussions regarding sustainability continued this year with researchers introducing new varieties that require less inputs but the bottom line with sustainability is you can create a sustainable potato, such as the Premier Russet, but until the QSRs adopt the potato then rumors of the demise of the Russet Burbank will continue to be just rumors.- William Schaefer, Spudman Editor

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