In a groundbreaking initiative, about 100 Northwest farmers and scientists recently gathered in a test field near Quincy, Washington State, to explore sustainable potato farming, as Anna King of Northwest News Network reports in a news story published by OPB here.
The Pacific Northwest, responsible for nearly 25% of the world’s frozen potato products, faces challenges from climate change, growing populations, and restrictions on pesticides and water use. The test field, organized by McCain Foods, aims to evaluate different potato varieties and their performance under varying levels of fumigation.
The goal is to identify less resource-intensive methods that still yield high-quality potatoes.
“Can we get to where we have other options, less chemical, less inputs that still provide quality fries for the QSRs — the McDonalds, the Burger Kings of the world?” asked Ken Luke, a manager with McCain.
“I’ve not met a grower yet who doesn’t want to improve their soil health,” said Daniel Metheringham, a VP of Agriculture with McCain Foods. “They maybe don’t have the how. That’s what the innovation hub [test field] is about, working out the how.”
The full results are expected in mid-September, but the initiative already shows promise for a more sustainable and resilient potato industry.
Source: OPB. Read the full story and listen to an audio version here
Photo: Ken Luke, a manager with McCain Foods, shows off some of the old standby potato varieties, along with some of the new, like the fresh “King Russet.” Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network via OPB