May 10, 2023
New partnership hopes to improve seed potato production in Wisconsin

A new public/private partnership aims to improve seed potato production in Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is teaming up with Starks Early Generation Seed Potato Farm in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in the effort.

The farm, part of the university’s Seed Potato Certification Program, produces early generation seed potatoes for Wisconsin producers and other farmers for a fee.

A new public/private partnership aims to improve seed potato production in Wisconsin. Photo: File

Last fall, a group of seed potato growers including Eagle River Seed Farm, Baginski Farms, Schroeder Brothers Farms, and J.W. Mattek & Sons formed the Wisconsin Potato Coalition (WPC) to assume operations of planting, growing and harvesting seed at the Starks farm.

Under the new arrangement, the private WPC will manage approximately 100 acres of early generation seed potatoes, along with several hundred acres of rotation crops, according to an article on the university’s website.

The WPC’s goal is to provide clean, early generation foundation seed to Wisconsin’s $350 million potato industry. University scientists and inspectors with the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program will draw on their expertise in plant pathogens, disease management and diagnostics to aid in seed production and to oversee program testing and certification.

“This new public-private partnership capitalizes on the strengths of both partners,” Amanda Gevens, professor and Extension specialist in the plant pathology department and the current administrative director of the certification program, said in the article.

The WPC will contract with seed potato customers each winter to determine the quantity and varieties of seed potatoes to cultivate. They will then plant, raise, harvest and store the certified seed potatoes. Scientists and coalition members will partner on research, and the university will manage onsite greenhouses.

“Our coalition is excited to provide this service for the Wisconsin industry,” said Kevin Schleicher, director of WPC and director of sales for Wysocki Family of Companies. “Local potato farms are strongly positioned in the national potato industry when we have a clean, quality source for early generation seed in Wisconsin.”

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