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April 2007

A Chance To Improve

The last couple of months, I've written about the importance of adding value and giving consumers something special. And I could probably fill several more columns with some of the same ideas. But I t... more

Adjusting planter speed can improve yield and uniformity

High yields and uniform potatoes start with homogenous seed pieces planted at even intervals, Mir-M Seyedbagheri told growers at the University of Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello Jan. 16-18. Seye... more

Aroostook County family has farmed the same acreage since 1953

The Maine Potato Board named the Moir family of Woodland, Maine, the Farm Family of the Year for 2006. Ronald and Ruth Moir farm about 1,500 acres in Aroostook County with their three sons Alan, Jason... more

Beat ’em to the Punch

It's not news that in order to survive you have to be thinking ahead of your customer. You have to know what they want before they want it. Product needs to be on the shelves waiting for them when the... more

Bill DeVos: Growers Should Focus on Consumers

There are three items prominently displayed in my office. One is a painting by Colorado artist Tom Lockhart, Greenwings over a Wintry Marsh," which I won at an NPC National Seed Seminar hosted by Colo... more

California Sues Makers of Potato Chips, Fries

When Congress got rid of the controversial Delaney Clause by passing the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, most Americans got rid of a problem. But California has a Delaney-like law, and California... more

Calling in Sick

This winter was a sick one for me. Between battles with strep throat, sinus infections and downright icky colds, it seems I haven't gone one week without feeling crummy. And it's been a sick one for o... more

Clen and Emma Atchley grow crops while preserving the environment

Some people believe farmers stand in the way of protecting the environment, but there are growers out there working to preserve the land and the nutrients in it.A lot of people see farming as a detrim... more

Colorado Grower Adapts to Changing Industry by Expanding Farm

Bruce Heersink knows what it takes to keep his farm successful. Afterall, he's watched his dad and grandfather before him. Bruce is the fifth generation to farm his family's land in Monte Vista, Colo.... more

Colorado Seed Farm Too Tall for Pests

There probably aren't too many potato growers in the United States who'd be all that comfortable practicing their profession at 7,600 feet above sea level, where the air is thin and the temperatures g... more

Communication is key to keeping good workers

Almost every farmer has had to deal with the farm labor issue. As the labor supply gets tighter and tighter, finding good workers and getting good employees to come back every year will become even mo... more

Consumers, processors drive demand for organic spuds

Organic agriculture is about 2 percent of total U.S. agriculture, and sales of organic produce were about $5.8 billion in 2005. But the market segment is growing, and in 2007 sales from organic produc... more

Continuing Education

There was nothing like the feeling of getting my first published issue of Spudman in the mail. It was amazing. But what's even better than holding the finished product in my hands is knowing that peop... more

Different Practices Can Help Manage Late Blight in Sprinkler-Irrigated Potatoes

Integration of several control tactics is needed to manage potato late blight in sprinkler-irrigated potatoes. These include strict sanitation practices, proper irrigation management, cultural practic... more

Disease Control Measures Should Be Taken Right Up Until Harvest

After growers apply the desiccants that will kill their potato vines and set the stage for harvest, it's not yet time to park the sprayer. They should plan to return within three or four days to make ... more

Disease Thrives on Cool, Wet Weather in Midwest, East

Prevailing weather for the Midwest and Eastern states during the summer of 2004 can be summed up in two words cool and wet. It just so happens that the late blight pathogen we've all learned to recogn... more

Diversity is key to minituber grower’s success

Valley Tissue Culture in Halstad, Minn., sets itself apart from other seed growers by the number of varieties it produces. Valley Tissue cultures and grows between 60 and 75 potato varieties in its la... more

Ein Traum Von Amerika: The 1990s

Wulf is a tough old bird… he is 65 and he just keeps going."Wulf Lebrecht's son, Chris, said that about his father in the German-made documentary film "Ein Traum Von Amerika" ("An American Dream... more

Ein Traum Von Amerika: The 2000s

Wulf is still farming in Idaho.When Wulf Lebrecht was a youngster in Germany he had a dream to become an American farmer. Before he could do that he helped his mother and siblings keep their farm goin... more

Expand Global Markets At Home

On a recent episode of ABC's World News, reporter Robert Krulwich examined the most popular movie theater snack in the world. It wasn't popcorn or candy it was potatoes.Americans went to the movies 1.... more

Experts Answer Questions about GPS for Potato Growers

What is GPS?D.J. Mulla: GPS stands for Global Positioning System. This is a network consisting of 24 satellites that broadcast radio signals to earth. Under the right conditions, these signals can be ... more

Family Business

This issue marks my one-year anniversary as editor of Spudman. In the last year, I've not only learned a lot about the potato industry, but I've learned a lot about myself. Taking on another magazine ... more

Farming Tradition Continues For Van Orden Family

There are more than 50 years of potato-growing history in the Van Orden family of Bingham County, Idaho. Michael, Gaylen and LeRoy Van Orden are working to continue that tradition, with more than 1,50... more

Father, Son in Maine Design Potato Equipment

They may no longer be growing potatoes, but the Ellises certainly are involved in the potato industry on a world-wide basis. Malcolm and Jaye Ellis, an Aroostook County, Maine, father and son pair, le... more

Federal Government Targets Employers of Illegal Immigrants

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding its efforts to target employers of illegal aliens, which could have negative consequences for farmers and their workers.On April 20, Homelan... more

First Time for Everything

I enjoy firsts." My first car was a 1987 Plymouth Sundance I sold it to buy my first pick-up truck.My first girlfriend was Jamie in junior high she's now my wife.And I bought my first house in Decembe... more

Florida Grower Has Potato Business In His Blood

Farming isn't just what Florida potato grower Alan Jones does. He was born to it and it's in his blood. At age 38, like many other farmers, he's growing not only potatoes but a number of other crops a... more

Fourth generation grower couldn’t stay away from the farm

Running a potato farm is a not a commitment to be taken lightly, and Mike Baginski's parents, Ted and Sue, wanted him to be sure it was what he really wanted to do. They had him move away from the fam... more

Growers Can Manage a Potato Crop with Less Water

Irrigation is required for profitable commercial potato production in the Western United States. Potatoes have a relatively shallow root zone and a lower tolerance for water stress than most other cro... more

Growers Must Weigh Risks, Benefits of Planting Window

It's no secret that a uniform stand of healthy, vigorous plants is one of the keys to producing high yields of good quality potatoes. Most potato growers spend a lot of time selecting seed and prepari... more

Health Traits May Drive Future Potato Research

Communicating the healthful aspects of potatoes can help return the vegetable to its rightful place of prominence on North American dinner plates, a Colorado State University researcher said.David Hol... more

Healthy Soil Regimen Reduces Need for Chemical Attack

For more than 30 years, potato growers have managed the chronic disease called potato early dying (or potato early die) with a chemical attack that ranges from relatively mild preventatives to complet... more

Humidity Control Key to Storing Bulk Potatoes

While temperature is probably the most important potato storage concern, another important step in storing potatoes is ensuring adequate relative humidity levels in the storage shed. Relative humidity... more

Idaho Co-op Gathers Support

Idaho's new fresh potato cooperative is going strong. United Fresh Potato Growers of Idaho (United) now has membership agreements from growers who represent more than 80 percent of all fresh potato ac... more

Idaho Grower Tackles Challenges Associated with Growing Seed Potatoes

With a few years of active duty in the U.S. Army under his belt, Norm Johnson returned to school to earn a master's degree in hospital administration. But somewhere on that path, a trip to his father-... more

Imidacloprid Resistance Appearing After 11 Years

There's no need for growers to panic, but it's true. Colorado potato beetles are becoming resistant, in some production areas, to the leading insecticide that has been knocking them dead for 11 years.... more

Industry Leaders Look to Remove Trade Barriers

North America's potato industries are continuing processes started years ago to even out the playing field and assure fair trade for all parties involved. Ministerial exemptions, anti-dumping laws and... more

Industry looks at packaging innovations

Connecting with consumers means marketing potatoes in a way that will stimulate new purchases. Industry leaders agree that adopting this simple strategy is vital to increasing demand and, in turn, pro... more

Intensified nationwide testing under consideration

Potato growers in Idaho are in for a lot more of the same kind of activities" as they enter the 2007 growing season. But growers across the United States may get a greater share of the scrutiny as APH... more

Investigation of Pest Under Way in Idaho

In early May, officials from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) were still trying to track down the source of two tiny cysts th... more

It Takes An Industry

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo EmersonThat's one of my favorite quotes. Whenever I reach a particularly stressful deadline ... more

Jim Wysocki Has Ambitious Goals For His Year As NPC President

The potato industry is going through some big changes. And it's not just the marketplace that's different. It's the nature of the business. Thirty years ago, hard work and producing a good crop assure... more

Kim Wahlen Works Hard In Industry He Grew Up In

Kim Wahlen is a third-generation potato grower, farming about 6,000 acres near his hometown of Aberdeen, Idaho. His grandfather, Peter Frederick Wahlen, immigrated from Sweden to Salt Lake City, Utah,... more

Learning from Automakers

Last month we asked growers what it would take to make supply and demand more equal. I am amazed but not entirely surprised by the results.Sixty-three percent of those who answered the question said t... more

Learning from Grandpa

I've always known my grandfather was a special man. In his life, he taught many people many things about what it takes to be a good, hard-working and honest person. And in his recent death, he taught ... more

Learning From The UK

It's no secret that supply of potatoes in the United States exceeds demand. The gap between the two may slowly be narrowing as growers make an effort to plant fewer acres, but it's still there. It won... more

Maine potato growers enjoy being among the best of the best

In Mars Hill, Maine, a potato-growing family has been named Grand Champion Growers while raising only 300 acres. Bryan Bell, of Bell Brothers, has no plans to expand the farming operation. He said the... more

Managing for control of Colorado potato beetle

As usual, the beetle is battling back.Potato growers are unique among all farmers in having to contend with the crown prince of insect pests, the Colorado potato beetle (CPB). It thrives on plants of ... more

Market Outlook

Louis Wysocki was the driving force.The first annual Potato Industry Outlook Summit was held Dec. 9 thanks to the ideas and energy of Mr Wysocki, a Wisconsin potato grower/shipper. More than 250 peopl... more

Michigan Family Grows Minitubers Without Soil

In 1997, Don Sklarczyk embarked on an adventure that would forever change the way he did business: He switched to hydroponically growing minitubers for seed potatoes.Sklarczyk Seed Farm, Johannesburg,... more

Michigan seed grower to lead the council in 2007

Don Sklarczyk was elected to a one-year term as president of the National Potato Council at the group's annual meeting in January. Don grows minituber seed potatoes with his wife, Mary Kay, and son, B... more

New Assistant Editor Joins Spudman Staff

Scott Christie has joined the staff of Great American Publishing as the assistant editor for Spudman. His duties will include writing and editing content for Spudman, as well as assisting on the compa... more

New Direction

I never back down from an opportunity to make myself better. So, when I was offered the position to take over as managing editor of Spudman, I couldn't say no. So, here I am about five months into thi... more

New Organization Adds Structure to Potato Breeding Efforts

The three states of the Pacific Northwest have created the Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI), an agency that will license, promote and market new potato varieties developed by the cooperative... more

New USPB Chairman Sees Potato Market Turning Around

U.S. Potato Board (USPB) Chairman Ray Meiggs knows that it's going to take a lot of work to help return the country's potato industry back to where it belongs. Far from being just an elected board mem... more

New Year’s Resolution

The new year is a time when people resolve to do a lot of things: lose weight, get organized, spend more time with the family. I have a challenge for the potato industry: Resolve to embrace the promis... more

Northwest Potato Growers Expect Dry Season

This year's irrigation outlook for Northwest potato growers is dry, just like it's been the past few years.Idaho is in the seventh year of a drought cycle, and this year's water supply is still uncert... more

NPC President Motivated by Family

If you ask Dan Moss why he's a potato grower, you're apt to hear a one-word answer: family. Not only was Moss raised by a farmer, but he's raised his family on a potato farm. It's great for families,"... more

NPC, USPB Heads Discuss Issues Facing U.S. Potato Industry

The National Potato Council (NPC) and U.S. Potato Board (USPB) are the potato industry's national voices. Both stand side by side as different but equally important pillars" of the industry. In the fo... more

Ohio grower helps forge new path for state’s produce farmers

During the 1920s and 1930s, potato chip companies relied on Ohio potato growers to supply them with chipping potatoes. Dan Dee Pretzel and Potato Chip Co. built a plant in the midst of the potato-grow... more

Okray Farms Continues Tradition Started in 1905

The governing philosophy at Okray Farms is slow, steady growth. And that's exactly what they've done over the last 100 years. What started as a small operation buying and selling produce in 1905 has g... more

Oregon Grower Rallies to Survive Loss of Big Account

Sherwood, Ore., potato grower/packer/shipper Jay Hoffman, who loves baseball and even has a regulation diamond on his farm, is not going to let the loss of his best customer shut him out.For more than... more

Outgoing USPB chairman shares perspective on industry transformation

If I could choose one word to describe my year as chairman, it would have to be transformation." It truly gave me a new perspective on the potato industry, different from what I had just 12 months ago... more

Pacific Northwest Taking Proactive Measures to Stop Threat

The recent discovery of potato tuberworms (PTW) and tuber moths has potato growers and industry officials concerned and researchers studying how and why tuber moth, thought to be a subtropical pest, h... more

Packaging innovation unlocks the future for Colorado potato grower

It's shiny, almost futuristic. It's compact and made of stainless steel and glass. It's computer driven and engineered to size, weigh and pack potatoes in consumer-friendly mesh bags, with sizes rangi... more

Planning, Patience Imperative During Planting Season

When faced with seed performance problems in the early season, there is usually little that the affected grower can do. After the seed has been planted and a problem develops, often the only thing the... more

Planting the Seeds of Success

It's difficult to think about planting as the Michigan snow covers everything in a blanket of white and temperatures dip below zero, but based on the turnout at the winter potato meetings, many of you... more

Potato market looking good for 2007

If the last few years are any indication, the potato industry could be in for another good year in 2007. While the retail market is still decreasing and prices have gone through the typically seasonal... more

Potato Transportation

The high and rising price of fuel has added significantly to the cost of putting potatoes on the American consumer's dinner table. But even more than rate increases, the industry is facing a growing s... more

Potato-head Proud

The U.S. Potato Board announced at its annual meeting in March that it is partnering with Hasbro to bring Mr. Potato Head (the original Spud Man, born in 1952) onboard to help promote the healthful as... more

Pre-season maintenance can reduce disease potential

This year, with concern about higher energy costs and potentially reduced water supply, some extra time and a relatively small investment in equipment maintenance can significantly increase the profit... more

Readership Response

I want to start this month's column with a letter to the editor I received about my column last month regarding smaller, more convenient packaging: As a mother of six and now an empty-nester, I can re... more

Safety is Job No. 1

U.S. consumers have serious concerns about the produce they buy. The Produce Marketing Association has surveyed primary household shoppers since September 2006, when an E. coli outbreak associated wit... more

Seed Size Distribution

A commercial Norkotah grower I was visiting with recently was trying to choose which of three seed lots he should buy for next year. His first thought was to stick with the seed grower he bought from ... more

Seed Spud Growers Hanging on in Central Oregon

Not far from where the epic western Bend of the River" was filmed in 1952 lies a semi-arid region in central Oregon where a sizeable portion of the state's seed potatoes are grown.Anyone who's spent a... more

Selecting A Source: Look into Farm’s History Before Choosing a Seed Provider

When growers are looking for a seed potato provider, there are some things they must each consider first, said Phillip Nolte, Extension seed potato specialist at the University of Idaho in Idaho Falls... more

Sharing Responsibility

Recently, I had a great opportunity to participate in a panel with other trade media folks at the United Produce Conference in Chicago. There were a few hundred people in the room, so I was a little n... more

Start Thinking About Harvest Now To Ensure a Bruise-Free Crop

Producers need to attend to numerous details during the growing season to raise a quality potato crop. It begins by properly working the soil followed by paying attention to planting accuracy, and the... more

State of the Industry

The state of the nation's potato industry is constantly changing, and the past few years have seen marked differences in the world market and in the marketing of potato products in the United States. ... more

Summit Looks at Future of Potato Industry

More than 200 people traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., in December to attend the first-ever Potato Industry Outlook Summit. Held in conjunction with National Potato Council's Seed Seminar, the Outl... more

Technology aids farming and irrigation practices

It's said that the information age started with the military in the 1950s, and the technology we have in the 21st century is a direct result of it. Farmers haven't benefited near as much as other indu... more

The Medium is the Message

In journalism school, we learned about Marshall McLuhan a Canadian writer and communications theorist. McLuhan taught that the medium is the message." How the message is conveyed is just as important ... more

Time to Shine

In August, the U.S. potato industry gets its time to shine. Hundreds of growers, researchers and industry members are expected to descend upon Boise, Idaho, for the World Potato Congress. It may not b... more

Timing and rate of application crucial in shallow-rooted plants

Stress conditions moisture, nutrient availability, soil properties, limited root systems can play a crucial role in tuber development, so managing the application timing of nutrients is vital to set a... more

Turning A Profit

I just read in the North American Potato Market News that Publisher Bruce Huffaker is projecting a 14,400-acre increase in U.S. fall potato production this year mostly in the Western states. Huffaker ... more

U.S. Cooperative Brings Potato Growers Together

Only four weeks after its formation, United Potato Growers of America had already completed its first program: the acreage bid buy-out program, which ended in mid-April.United's goal with the buy-out ... more

U.S. Potato Cooperative Marks One-Year Anniversary

One year after it was formed, the United Potato Growers of America is movin' on up to Salt Lake City.With the December hire of Julia Cissel as CEO, the potato cooperative is moving to its permanent ho... more

U.S. Potato Genebank Works to Improve Potatoes’ Genes

The U.S. Potato Genebank is just that a bank containing 5,000 populations kept as botanical seed, encompassing about 150 species.Our responsibility is to collect, classify, preserve, distribute and ev... more

Umatilla Russet, Red LaSoda see biggest gains in 2006

U.S. seed potato acres approved for certification in 2006 increased 4 percent from 2005. A report from Colorado State University showed 113,871 acres certified for 291 varieties. Industry groups have ... more

USPB Chairman Looks to Continue Legacy

Randy Hardy is really looking forward to the World Potato Congress. It's going to be a good opportunity to show off not just Idaho but the quality of what the United States produces," said Hardy, of O... more

Washington grower leads family business of potatoes and fruit

Like many young people who grow up on farms, Jared Balcom wanted nothing to do with agriculture when he went away to college at Washington State University.I'd had my fill of farming. It kind of gets ... more

Water, family drive Oregon seed grower to keep his operation small

Oregon's Klamath Basin is known for fertile soil in the semi-arid desert. Potato production in the area isn't affected much by late blight or Colorado potato beetle, but water is probably the biggest ... more

Wisconsin grower-shipper-packer named chairman

The U.S. Potato Board elected its board for 2007-08 during its annual meeting March 14-16 in Broomfield, Colo. Larry Alsum, general manager and owner of Alsum Produce and Alsum Farms in Friesburg, Wis... more

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