March 2016
Marching into Spring By Bill Schaefer

A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese.” So wrote Aldo Leopold in “A Sand County Almanac.” I quote Leopold for two reasons: 1) “A Sand County Almanac” has always been a constant reading companion for me; and, 2) It’s a great segue to this month’s grower profile of Steve Diercks and his son, Andy Diercks.

The family has been growing potatoes in the Wisconsin sands since 1961 when Steve’s father and grandfather decided to add to their holdings in Antigo, 90 miles north of Coloma. Steve and Andy are third and fourth generation potato growers in their family. They grow a little bit of almost everything: chip, process and table stock, russets, round whites, reds and yellows.

Father and son are vocal advocates for Wisconsin’s potato and vegetable industry as well as the national potato industry. “Somebody has to do it, somebody has to be involved,” Andy said when asked why he devotes so much time to the state and national organizations. They want consumers to know that Wisconsin is more than just the nation’s dairyland, but that they also grow some of the nation’s best potatoes.

Another family that has been actively involved in the potato industry on state and national levels for decades is the Sklarczyks. Don Sklarczyk is a former president of the National Potato Council (NPC) and at the NPC’s annual banquet this January I had the opportunity to present Don’s son, Benjamin Sklarczyk, with Spudman’s 2016 Emerging Leader Award. With young people like Benjamin coming forward to lead the potato industry the future looks promising for many years to come. There’s a profile of Benjamin and his family on Page 26.

March means more than just the approach of the vernal equinox. With the warm weather you can count on countless bugs through the growing season. Alan Schreiber gave a valuable seminar on resistance management at the Washington/Oregon conference. A condensed version of his presentation can be found on Page 16.

Though his presentation focused on the Pacific Northwest, I think growers everywhere will find value in his rules for preventing resistance management.

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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