North America, Research

Maine’s foremost potato expert is bringing his expertise around the world

Potato farmers depend on Steve Johnson. At least they did for 34 years. Now Johnson, who retired on June 30, is taking his expertise to other parts of the world, as Paula Brewer reports for Bangor Daily News (BDN).

Johnson, who was a crops specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Presque Isle, has told farmers when to plant, how to treat diseases and pests, how to properly store crops and introduced technology to growers. Though he has left Aroostook, he is not leaving agriculture. He has too much invested.

He has harvested 33 consecutive crops of research potatoes, and pioneered an “electronic potato” that became the industry standard for calibrating harvesters to reduce bruising the crop in the field. He also has shared his expertise throughout Maine and across the world, in places like Australia, Guatemala and Macedonia.

He brought some of Maine’s potato varieties to Macedonia and the Dominican Republic, worked with potato processors in New Zealand and wrote a program to predict late blight in Australia.

This winter Johnson will return to Australia to work with the seed industry there, and he plans other projects to help people learn more about the science of agriculture.

Source: Bangor Daily News (BDN). Read the full story here
Photo: Steven B. Johnson, PhD, UMaine Cooperative Extension professor and crops specialist, poses in a field at the Aroostook Farm in Presque Isle in spring 2021. Credit: Courtesy of Steven Johnson via Bangor Daily News

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