Dec 6, 2007
Idaho Potato Conference Highlights Water, Sustainability and Climate Change

Agricultural sustainability, water supply status and the impacts of global warming are among the topics at the University of Idaho’s 2008 Potato Conference. The event – part of the university’s Extension program – will mark its 40th anniversary when it convenes Jan. 23-24 in Pocatello.

“It’s a milestone that we’ve reached and we’re particularly excited that we’re doing it in the International Year of the Potato,” said Phil Nolte, University of Idaho Extension seed potato specialist and conference chairman. As has been the case for four decades, the conference will address current changes facing the potato industry and potato science.

“Water, climate and sustainability are key issues,” Nolte said. “Last year was a hot and stressful one for the potato crop, and there was concern throughout the season about how water supplies would hold up. There’s every reason to believe that we will be dealing with the very same problems next season.”

Keynote speaker Jay Lehr, who testifies frequently before Congress and consults with numerous federal agencies and foreign nations, will share his expert opinion on environmental issues, groundwater hydrology and climate change as they affect agricultural sustainability. Lehr is the author of more than a dozen books and 400 magazine and journal articles.

Three University of Idaho faculty members will outline the current water-supply situation, describe how to produce potato crops in water-short years and discuss the effects of heat and water stress on potato quality. They include Gary Johnson, assistant director of the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute; Jeff Stark, University of Idaho director of the Potato Variety Development Program, and Mike Thornton, potato specialist. Colleague Juliet Windes, an Extension cereal cropping systems agronomist, and other speakers will address the challenges facing Idaho agriculture from global warming.

Other conference topics will include potato cyst nematodes, potato virus Y, the impacts of a marketing cooperative on price behavior in Idaho and the contribution of the potato industry to Idaho’s economy. Speakers will also discuss organic pest and crop management, new potato varieties, green manures and many other management and marketing issues.

The Potato Conference, held at Idaho State University’s Pond Student Union Building, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 and 8 a.m. to noon Thursday, Jan. 24. In-state registration is $15 until Jan. 4 and $20 at the door. Out-of-state participants pay $75 until Jan. 4 and $90 at the door.

For more information, visit at or call Nolte at 208-529-8376.

The Idaho Crop Improvement Association’s Idaho Seed Potato Grower’s Seminar will precede the conference on Jan. 22 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pocatello.

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