Cultivation/Production, Events, North America

Experts, vendors, producers ponder potatoes at Eastern Idaho Ag Expo

The 40th annual Eastern Idaho Ag Expo opened on Tuesday in Holt Arena and the 51st annual Idaho Potato Conference opened the following day in the Pond Student Union on the Idaho State University campus.

For the first time in memory the ag show and potato conference are at the same time as the Washington/Oregon Potato Conference and ag show in Kennewick, Wash.

Brock Mitchell, Double L vice president for sales and service, said the downward trend for farm receipts has not been a factor in equipment sales. “Sales were up in 2018 and we’ve had a good start in 2019,” he said “Higher interest rates make me nervous but so far sales have been good.”

Wednesday’s potato conference opened with a session on the latest research on Potato Virus Y and by University of Idaho’s Alex Karasev and Nora Olsen. Karasev said that the PVY-n-wi strain is now the dominant strain of PVY found in Idaho. The amount of PVY-n-wi found in crop surveys has increased from 20 percent to over 70 percent.

Karasev reported that there is lower susceptibility to PVY in the Russet Bannock variety and the Russet Payette is resistant to all strains of PVY.

Mark McGuire, UI associate dean of research and director of the Idaho Agricultural Experimental Station, told the audience of plans to break ground on a new germplasm lab this summer or fall and to move into the new facility in 2020 on the Moscow campus. He said the new lab would increase capacity.

Dan Moss, of Rupert and current chairman of Potatoes USA, spoke on the Potato Sustainability Initiative, saying the PSI survey was an evolution from Good Agricultural Practices audits and was a reaction from McDonalds’ desire to placate customers wanting to see greater sustainability from the quick service restaurant. The current PSI audit runs to 108 questions. Moss said that the new survey will be about half that number.

Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said the 2018 crop has had strong demand and attributed that to harvest problems due to poor weather in the Midwest along with global quality issues. He described frozen and dehy demand as “robust.” “Perfect market conditions for Idaho prices this year,” Muir said.

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