1812_Badger Common'Tater

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$18/year | $1.50/copy | Volume 70 No. 12 | DECEMBER 2018


Annual Review Issue


Chad Malek

Specialty Potatoes & Produce

HOW TO COPE WITH Frost-Damaged Spuds FLUX TOWERS MEASURE Plant and Pine Water Use REGISTER FOR GROWER ED Conference & Industry Show BREEDING POTATOES with Improved Traits CONSERVE CAPITAL & Manage Cash Flows

True to its name, Specialty Potatoes & Produce grows varieties like this field of Austrian Crescents in full bloom.

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On the Cover: Finding a niche in growing yellow, red and purple fingerlings;

organic russets, yellows and reds; small rounds and a myriad of potato varieties, Chad Malek of Specialty Potatoes & Produce in Rosholt, Wisconsin, doesn’t shy away from planting fields full of such spuds as the Austrian Crescents shown in full bloom, in 2016, on the cover.


When this issue’s interviewee, Chad Malek, planted some organic and fingerling potatoes when he was straight out of high school, in 1999, he guesses they may have been a bit ahead of their time. He went to work for a larger farm, saved money and “made a better plan.” Today, he grows conventional and organic potatoes, often planting experimental varieties, or conducting on-farm trials, as shown.

DEPARTMENTS: ALI’S KITCHEN.................... 65 AUXILIARY NEWS............... 46 BADGER BEAT.................... 55


Strategies for coping with and storing damaged spuds


Sen. Patrick Testin gets his hands dirty and goes “On the Job” at Insight FS


100 varieties & advanced clones displayed at Potato Variety Harvest Expo 2018

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PLANTING IDEAS.................. 6


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POTATOES USA NEWS........ 52 WPIB FOCUS...................... 47

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WPVGA Board of Directors: President: Josh Mattek Vice President: Gary Wysocki Secretary: Rod Gumz Treasurer: Wes Meddaugh Directors: Mike Carter, Mark Finnessy, Bill Guenthner, Eric Schroeder & Eric Wallendal Wisconsin Potato Industry Board: President: Heidi Alsum-Randall Vice President: Richard Okray Secretary: Bill Wysocki Treasurer: Keith Wolter Directors: John Bobek, Andy Diercks, Cliff Gagas, John T. Schroeder & Tom Wild WPVGA Associate Division Board of Directors: President: Casey Kedrowski Vice President: Joel Zalewski

Secretary: Cathy Schommer Treasurer: Rich Wilcox Directors: Chris Brooks, Paul Cieslewicz, Nick Laudenbach & Kenton Mehlberg Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association Board of Directors: President: Charlie Mattek Vice President: Dan Kakes Secretary/Treasurer: Roy Gallenberg Directors: Jeff Fassbender & J.D. Schroeder Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary Board of Directors: President: Kathy Bartsch Vice President: Devin Zarda Secretary/Treasurer: Datonn Hanke Directors: Jody Baginski, Brittany Bula, Deniell Bula & Marie Reid

Mission Statement of the WPVGA: To advance the interests of WPVGA members through education, information, environmentally sound research, promotion, governmental action and involvement. Mission Statement of the WPVGA Associate Division: To work in partnership with the WPVGA as product and service providers to promote mutual industry viability by integrating technology and information resources. Badger Common’Tater is published monthly at 700 Fifth Avenue, Antigo, Wisconsin 54409

WPVGA Staff Executive Director: Tamas Houlihan Managing Editor: Joe Kertzman Director of Promotions & Consumer Education: Dana Rady Financial Officer: Karen Rasmussen Executive Assistant: Julie Braun Coordinator of Community Relations: Jim Zdroik Spudmobile Assistant: Doug Foemmel

WPVGA Office (715) 623-7683 • FAX: (715) 623-3176 E-mail: wpvga@wisconsinpotatoes.com Website: www.wisconsinpotatoes.com LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/WPVGA

Subscription rates: $1.50/copy, $18.00/year; $30/2 years. Foreign subscription rates: $30/year; $50/2 years. Telephone: (715) 623-7683 Mailing address: P.O. Box 327, Antigo, Wisconsin 54409 Or, subscribe free online: http://wisconsinpotatoes.com/blog-news/subscribe/ ADVERTISING: To advertise your service or product in this magazine, call (715) 630-6213, or email: Joe Kertzman: jkertzman@wisconsinpotatoes.com. The editor welcomes manuscripts and pictures but accepts no responsibility for such material while in our hands. BC�T December




Planting Ideas




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It’s the neighborly thing to do. Apparently, there

are a lot of neighborly things to do in the agriculture industry. During the 2018 harvest season in Wisconsin, there was no shortage of stories about neighbors helping neighbors. One grower told me how, when he found out the neighboring farm still had hundreds of acres of potatoes still in the ground in late October, and after several frost and rain events, he went over to lend a hand harvesting. Then he said, “I still had potatoes in the ground, too,” and after a pause, “but the ground was too wet, and I couldn’t get into my fields anyway.” There doesn’t seem to be any hesitation, no thought of the work involved, the late hours or missed family time when it comes to potato and vegetable growers helping each other out when there’s a need. The unselfish acts of kindness were especially notable during one of the most difficult harvest seasons on record in Wisconsin. Growers don’t need or want to be reminded of the unrelenting rain and cold that delayed, and in some cases halted, harvest. Yet, when a tractor broke down or someone needed a part or helping hand, as growers tend to do, they were there for each other. And kindness catches on. In the midst of harvest, when asked to host Frito-Lay suppliers visiting from Latin America, several growers agreed (see “Now News” in this issue.) When I needed someone to write an informative article about “Coping with Frost-Damaged Potatoes,” Paul Bethke, U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture, and Troy Fishler, research manager of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Research Facility in Hancock, joined forces and worked up an insightful feature article for me. Please see the story in this issue. Yes, there’s no shortage of neighborly acts in this industry, and that’s so refreshing. Speaking of neighbors, I got to know mine a little better when interviewing Chad Malek, whose crew is shown planting celery above, of Specialty Potatoes & Produce, for this issue. Please see the story inside. Please email me with your thoughts and questions. If you wish to be notified when our free online magazine is available monthly, here is the subscriber link: http://wisconsinpotatoes.com/blog-news/subscribe.

Joe Kertzman

Managing Editor jkertzman@wisconsinpotatoes.com


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CHAD MALEK, Owner, Specialty Potatoes & Produce

By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater

NAME: Chad Malek TITLE: Manager/owner COMPANY: Specialty Potatoes & Produce LOCATION: Rosholt, WI HOMETOWN: Rosholt, WI YEARS IN PRESENT POSITION: 14 PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT: Lakeview Farms, Malek Farms, Paramount Farms and Heartland Farms SCHOOLING: Rosholt High School AWARDS/HONORS: 2018 Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association “Young Grower of the Year” FAMILY: Wife, Jennifer, daughter, Erin, and sons, Adam and Jacob HOBBY: Traveling Above: While Chad Malek grew up in farming, a farm was not handed down to him, so he’s had to build up Specialty Potatoes & Produce, in Rosholt, Wisconsin, one piece at time. 8

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One of Chad Malek’s first memories is driving tractor picking

up pipe when he was six years old. “They put me behind the wheel of an old Allis Chalmers WD model with a hand clutch, so it was pretty easy,” he quips. “After that, I got to drive tractor anytime we worked with pipe.”

Malek Farms was a corporation owned by Chad’s uncle, Don Malek, and father, Joe. “I got to ride with my dad while he sprayed,” Chad recalls. “I was disking by age 12. I would wake up early, work for a couple hours and then go to school.” “It was fun being able to work in the packing shed and with the equipment. We made cardboard boxes using a foot-operated stapler,” he says. “We’d see who could make them faster without messing up.” “I would hang bags on the Weigh-OMatic bagger, see how big a handful I could grab and how long I could go before needing to grab more without missing any,” Chad relates. “When you were doing 5-pound bags, that thing would be spinning.” Chad says he spent a lot of summer

days changing hand-set irrigation guns and resetting pipe, noting that they farmed every corner, so after they sprayed, they connected pipes and started watering again. “You learned quickly how to fix blowouts and check mainlines before you fired them up because they were harder to fix,” he says. “You also learned how to set pipe by yourself.” SEAT TIME “It was a treat to be able to get some seat time in a tractor, no matter what I got to do. It still is, although I don’t do it as much,” Chad adds. Together, Don and Joe raised up to 300 acres a year of mostly fresh market russet potatoes. Chad’s cousin, Chris Malek, worked at Malek Farms in summers, as well, so when Chad graduated from high school in the

Chad Malek of Specialty Potatoes & Produce grew these experimental potato varieties alongside a ¼-acre of banana fingerling potatoes.

mid-1990’s, there wasn’t enough room at the farm for everyone. “So, I went to work for the neighboring potato farm,” Chad says. “I was given more freedom working there. I could cultivate, plant and even run a harvester.” By the time the late ’90s rolled around, fresh market potato prices had hit historic lows and many of the Rosholt, Wisconsin-area farms were not able or willing to continue and closed their doors. “I was working for Lakeview Farms with the Zdroiks at that time. They, too, stopped farming after the ’98 season,” Chad relates. “Things were pretty dismal, and most guys were happy to close that chapter of their life and move on. I, however, was just out of high school and wanted

Yellow potatoes are harvested at Specialty Potatoes & Produce on what Chad Malek says seemed to be one of the only nice harvest days of the 2018 season.

to farm. So, in 1999, I planted some organic and fingerling potatoes,” he says. “It was a bit ahead of its time,” he continues. “I decided I best go work for a few years for one of the big farms and save some money and make a better plan.” MEANINGFUL MILESTONE In 2003, Chad’s daughter, Erin, was born, a milestone in his life that made him rethink where he wanted to be, and big factory farming wasn’t it. “So, I decided to call on a customer I’d sold to a few years earlier to see if they still were buying fingerlings. They were and that was the spark I needed to help push me in the direction I wanted to go,” Chad says. “My dad was living in Nekoosa and had a few sandy acres there I could

try this on.” In 2004, Chad planted a quarter-acre of banana fingerlings and a few small round potatoes. “I sold out right away,” he says. “So, in 2005, we cleared some of the scrub pines off the field in Nekoosa and planted about 18 acres or so of banana fingerlings,” he explains, “plus a few purples and other fingerlings. I sold out again.” The farming operation grew quite a bit over the next several years, both in Nekoosa and Rosholt. “Around 2008 or so, the lease was up on some of the Malek Farms ground. I outbid the tenant at the time and was able to begin farming the family’s land I grew up on,” Chad remarks. continued on pg. 10

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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 9

Plant growth is measured on banana fingerling potatoes.

In 2012, Malek purchased the current building he uses for his shop and grading area in Rosholt. In 2013, he bought a storage facility from Faldet Farms that became available when they decided to focus on grain farming. “That gave us about 170,000 hundredweight [cwt.] of storage,” he says. “At that point, we started grading/packaging our own product, and since then, we continue to grow and add on to our packing shed yearly. We now grow a mixture of specialty potatoes, both conventionally and organically.”

Tanks 5 and 6 in the Specialty Potatoes & Produce cooler hold organic Pacific russets (left) and organic dark red Norlands.

Are you the sole owner of Specialty Potatoes & Produce, and do any other family members work on the farm? My wife, Jennifer, and I are the owners. My dad, Joe, works part time with us when he is not traveling. My brother-in-law, Daniel, has been with us for over five years. My family is a big part of the business. Jennifer handles most of the accounting for the business. My daughter helps her out with some of the office work and the boys like to join me when checking fields and doing any of the “fun” activities that I also enjoyed as a kid. My dad has been a great resource for me and it’s been extremely helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of him and work alongside him again. He enjoys doing what he has done his entire life and we enjoy having him be a part of it. This really wouldn’t be possible without all the family support. I believe you changed a half-acre fingerling potato farm into 600 acres of potatoes and 700 acres of rotational crops, is that correct? Left: Red Thumb, Purple Pelisse and Exquisa fingerlings are newly dug and hosed off, fresh from a Specialty Potatoes & Produce field in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

10 BC�T December

Yes, each year we increased proportionately to the amount of land and help we could find to raise and harvest potatoes. What varieties of potatoes did you plant this year, and how many acres of each? We typically grow organic russets, yellows and reds. On the specialty side, we raise three different types of yellow fingerlings, two red fingerlings and two purple fingerlings, along with a few experimental varieties each year. Conventionally, we raise a few different varieties of yellows, russets and some small rounds of reds and yellows. Do you sell mostly to the fresh market, and who are your customers? Everything we sell is fresh market. Most of our fingerlings are for food service. Our customers are mainly from Wisconsin south and to the East Coast. Occasionally, we sell to California when they gap on supplies. We supply a customer in New York State who takes a lot of our fingerlings early in the season. Organics are more retail than food service by far. We sell to RPE, Inc.— one of our bigger customers. The

Wysockis have helped us grow our business over the years in various ways outside of just buying our potatoes. They have worked with our family for years. You also planted cabbage this year. How many acres, and for what market? We planted 100 acres organically for processing sauerkraut. We feel it’s important to be diverse in what we grow, and we are always looking for different rotational crops. Is the cabbage market a nice niche market for you and why or why not? I believe it has potential, but it may be too early to say. I think there are some fresh market options that need to be explored as well. What are your rotational crops? In our rotation, we include organic corn, organic soybeans, alfalfa, organic oats, organic peas, sweetcorn, organic cabbage and millet. Are there distinct growing, spacing and hilling methods for the varieties

It’s blue skies and wispy clouds above a field of Austrian crescent fingerling potatoes.

of potatoes you grow? Absolutely, the fingerlings and minis are not as deep as most of the regular-sized stuff. We changed to 34-inch rows a few years back. Spacing is different for most varieties. Some stuff is as tight as 3 inches, so planting gets slow. We have a few different hillers, so it depends on

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type, timing and soil conditions to determine what we use. What variety of potatoes is your best seller? I would say the two biggest on our farm would be yellow fingerlings and round yellows. Currently, that seems to be what generates the highest demand. continued on pg. 12

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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 11

How were the growing and harvest seasons for you? I believe most growers in Wisconsin agree this season will probably be ingrained in our minds for generations to come. First, there was the heaviest snowfall I ever remember seeing at one time, which came on April 14. Then a heat spell in May caused stand issues for many, if not most, growers in the area. Rains drowned out some of the stuff in June, and there was heat and no rain in July until the time we were ready to harvest, and then heat and rain in August. There was more rain and heat in September when we should store,

then frost and freeze that would only prove to be a challenge, to say the least, for most growers for the rest of the season. This season overall was just a challenge and one that most of us would like to forget. We’ve had larger challenges, though. In 2015, we had a fire in our storage facility and lost about 50,000 cwt. of storage space and the entire crop that was stored there due to smoke damage. It was November 20, so most of the building was still full. It was a pretty big hit. Events like that can take

Above: Purple Viking potatoes are graded at Specialty Potatoes & Produce.

months to sort through and years to recover from. What percentage of your acreage is organic, and is this a direction in which the market is going? About a third or better of all the acres I farm are certified organic. We rent potato acres from a few of the farms for conventional production. I believe it is a niche in the potato market, although it, too, is getting saturated, and some of the premiums aren’t what they could be. continued on pg. 14

Family is a big part of the business, with Chad Malek’s kids helping when they can. From left to right, Erin holds an Alsum Farms & Produce “Premium Potatoes” box, Adam helps do a three-plant sample for size and quality, and Jacob is thinking it looks easy to chisel plow with an autosteer. 12 BC�T December



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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 12

The set and growth are checked on Amarosa fingerlings at a field in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

The North Star Potatoes label graces a five-pound bag of organic yellows.

We, as growers, possess the ability to outproduce anything and everything, and, unfortunately, usually do. I believe organics have their place because consumers are more conscious about what they are buying and feeding to their families.

What are you most proud of concerning the farm? I believe what I’m most proud of is building this company from the ground up. While I grew up in farming, a farm was not handed down to me, so I’ve had to build it up one piece at time.

How many full- and part-time employees do you have? We have 10 full-time employees and hire an additional 10-15 seasonally.

You stress food safety at Specialty Potatoes & Produce. What exactly can you do to ensure quality, nutrition and safety? We have a dedicated employee, Logan, who handles all aspects of our food safety program. We have various audits throughout the year, including GAP, PRIMUS, and, on the organic side, MOSA. Logan spends countless hours keeping up with all the paperwork required by the different audits.

One former employee was tragically killed in a construction accident on October 12, 2017. A neighbor, A.J. Zdroik, worked for me right out of tech school, and he played a big role in helping me outfit my packing shed. He was the type of guy, I could say, “OK, A.J., I need a conveyor that will direct one size of potatoes into a bin over there and another size to go in the opposite direction to that bin.” I’d draw a little diagram and buy the materials, and he would build it perfectly, exactly as I envisioned it in my head. A.J. wanted to work construction so he could make more money, save it and come back to work for me on the farm. I encouraged him to do what he needed, so he quit in May of last year. 14 BC�T December

monitor our bins remotely gives you peace of mind. I believe technology, for the most part, helps us manage everything more efficiently. I believe you package your own potatoes, and the North Star label goes back generations, correct? The North Star label was developed in the late ’60s by one of my cousins for

We are required to ensure all our staff is trained properly on food safety and all requirements are met or exceeded. What have been some of the major technological advancements in your time at the helm? On the farm side, it is the GPS systems and mapping and recordkeeping. On the irrigation side, being able to monitor, start and stop systems remotely allows you to keep up on watering schedules, especially with a farm as spread out as we are. On the storage end, being able to

Size is checked on a new variety of yellow potatoes.

Malek Farms. Once I needed my own label, I decided to go with that to keep the old label going. We bought a packing shed in 2012. That shed had a few pieces of equipment and some storage. We have since gone through two major renovations and expansions there. First was 2016, when we added a flume system, more tanks and cold storage for handling early product off the field. Second was 2017, adding more holding tanks, a Wyma VegePolisher and a new Volmpack weighing and bagging machine. In 2018, we added a JMC baler, which has made our packing more efficient. We pack about 200,000 cwt. of product, including our own potatoes and those we pack for several other growers.

Specialty Potatoes & Produce, and do you hope to pass it down to the next generation? I hope to be able to continue to grow specialty and new varieties for years to come. We keep trialing different types of potatoes to be able to stay ahead of or keep up with trends.

What does the future hold for

My children are pretty young, so

Above: Chad Malek’s crew plants cabbage using an 8-row transplanter.

I don’t want to speculate if they will want to farm. This business is tough, and it will take some real dedication to want to take it over. Of course, I hope we could have a fourth generation of growers.

BC�T December 15

Coping with Frost-Damaged Potatoes of frost damage when Consider strategies for managing likelihood temperatures drop to below freezing. potato tissue is no longer frost-damaged tubers before we Frozen viable and cannot be healed. Rapid water loss begins as soon as the put 2018 to rest affected tubers thaw. Frost-damaged By Paul Bethke, U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of WisconsinMadison Department of Horticulture, and Troy Fishler, research manager, Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Research Facility, Hancock Agricultural Research Station Rain and cold delayed potato harvest throughout Wisconsin in 2018. Many farms were still digging potatoes in late October and into November. Temperatures below freezing took a toll on numerous fields when potatoes suffered frost damage. No one wants to see another harvest like 2018, but perhaps there is value in reviewing the causes and consequences of frost damage and discussing strategies for managing frost-damaged potatoes before we put 2018 to rest and begin making plans for 2019.

from frost damage. Low spots in a field collect cold air and are more susceptible to frost damage than higher elevations. Soil moisture content also influences the susceptibility of potatoes to frost damage. Soils with lower water content cool more rapidly, and warm more rapidly, than soils with higher water content. Multiple environmental factors, including strong winds, clear skies and low humidity, increase the

tissues develop wet patches on the skin as moisture leaks from lenticels. Underlying tuber flesh oxidizes with time and will appear grey after a few days. Frost-damaged tissue loses its structural integrity and feels soft to the touch as soon as it thaws.

Within days of thawing, affected regions begin to shed soggy masses of formerly frozen tissue. Adjacent, non-frozen tissue remains viable and a closing layer will form at the interface between healthy and frozen tissue if conditions allow. The threat of infection by pathogenic organisms is very high until wound periderm formation is complete. Strategies for managing frost-

Frost damage occurs when tuber temperature drops below approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit (F) and tuber tissues freeze. Potatoes that are closer to the surface are more likely to experience freezing temperatures than those deeper in the soil. Green potatoes, which are at the soil surface, will undoubtedly be the first to suffer

Green potatoes, which grow at the soil surface, are the first to show symptoms of frost damage. 16 BC�T December

Symptoms of frost damage include moisture leaking from damaged skin and lenticels, soft tuber flesh and wrinkling of the skin.

damaged potatoes are based on conventional best practices for storing potatoes. To begin with, consider not harvesting fields where the damage is extensive. In some cases, crop insurance may be the best option. Potatoes from fields with extensive frost damage, like potatoes from fields with a high incidence of pink rot or soft rot, are unlikely to store well. For chip and fry processing potatoes, explore options for running the material through a processing plant directly off the field. This option depends on whether the potatoes have undergone extensive coldinduced sweetening prior to harvest. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures promotes accumulation of reducing sugars in tubers and dark color in finished products.

A clear boundary, delineated by arrowheads adjacent to the top-center tuber, separates frost-damaged, frozen tissue from healthy tissue that was not frozen.

Varieties differ in their resistance to cold-induced sugar accumulation, and those that are slow to accumulate

sugars have the best chance of producing acceptable products after exposure to cold temperatures.

For fresh market potatoes, packing and shipping directly off the field is continued on pg. 18

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Coping with Frost-Damaged Potatoes . . . continued from pg. 17

unlikely to be a good option. It is very difficult to grade out frost-damaged tubers, and damaged regions on tubers that aren’t pulled from the line are likely to become apparent to customers after shipping. ESTABLISH PRIORITIES Once a decision has been made to store frost-damaged potatoes, then the storage manager needs to establish priorities for stabilizing the stored material and delivering a saleable product. We suggest that the highest priority should be maintaining the quality of those potatoes that have not been frozen. As potatoes are being loaded into storage, remove as many damaged tubers as possible. Make sure that staff have a clear picture of what

frost damage looks like. After bin loading, establish conditions that promote wound-healing and maturation of the skin, while at the same time suppressing the growth and spread of rot-promoting bacteria. The rate of wound healing and the potential for rot both increase rapidly as the storage temperature increases. A temperature of 50 degrees F is a compromise that allows for wound healing to occur in about two weeks without strongly promoting the activity of soft rot bacteria. SET A TEMPERATURE Therefore, an initial step in the management of frostdamaged potatoes is to establish a temperature set point of approximately 50 degrees.

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If pulp temperatures are less than 50 degrees, warm the pile slowly and reduce the humidity in the supply air to well below 95 percent. The optimal relative humidity of the supply air depends strongly on the amount of water that needs to be removed from the pile. An empirical approach to determining an appropriate value is likely to work

Priorities for storing frost damaged potatoes • Promote wound healing • Minimize disease • Remove excess water

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BC�T December 418COLUMN x 5” 7.708” x 5”


as well as a theoretical approach. Set the humidity of the supply air so that the return air has a relative humidity of about 90 percent. The goal is to prevent condensation of warm, moist air on cool potatoes as the air moves up through the pile. Condensation promotes disease and slows the removal of water from damaged potatoes. Ventilate with fresh air when outside temperatures allow, since this helps to remove moisture given off by damaged potatoes. An unavoidable consequence of this storage management approach is that potatoes on the bottom of the pile will lose water faster than usual and are likely to have pressure flattening and black spot bruising earlier than in a typical year.

It may take a few weeks to dry up the damaged tubers. It is important to prevent soft rot from spreading rapidly during this time. Careful monitoring of bins is required to catch problems early. Rapid onset of extensive disease may signal a lost cause that should be shipped as soon as possible. Potatoes with moderate disease symptoms can be treated with products such as FruitGard Wipeout, FruitGard Maintenance and ZeoAir that have chlorine dioxide as the active ingredient. Products containing peroxyacetic acid/peracetic acid, such as StorOx and Jet-oxide, can also be effective in suppressing the spread of soft-rot bacteria.

LOW STORAGE EXPECTATIONS Frost-damaged potatoes are not expected to store well or long. Disease is likely to linger, and hot spots may flare up periodically. Restoring acceptable sugars in processing potatoes that have gone off color will be a challenge. Extra vigilance will be required when packing fresh market potatoes because of concerns over substandard appearance and disease. The 2018-’19 storage season will undoubtedly present many challenges to the Wisconsin potato industry. Yet that industry has never been in a better position to meet those challenges. The expertise and skill of many will contribute to making the best of this year’s crop.

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Comparing Evapotranspiration and Pine Plantation Eddy covariance Flux Towers allow scientists to directly observe changes in plant water use By Ammara Talib and Ankur R. Desai, University of Wisconsin-Madison Throughout the summer, water from thousands of wells throughout Central Wisconsin nourishes one of the most agriculturally productive regions of the United States. As a result, Wisconsin farmers today harvest some of the nation’s largest bounties of potatoes, corn, peas and beans. However, water withdrawal comes with questions about its long-term sustainability, as well as optimizing irrigation scheduling in droughts and reducing impacts to local water bodies. Answering these questions requires tracking where water goes after it is applied. But this is harder to figure out than it appears at first glance. Solving this problem is the goal of research being done at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison by Professor Ankur Desai. Dr. Desai is working with support from the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) Water Task Force, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and UW-Madison. WATER USE STUDY In collaboration with Heartland Farms and the Tri-County Area School District School Forest, Desai’s lab is conducting an exciting new multiyear study on plant water use and yield in an irrigated potato field and a nearby pine plantation near Hancock, Wisconsin. These scientific observations track how plant water use changes with agricultural practices and climate, 20 BC�T December

Dr. Ankur Desai’s lab established a research site on Heartland Farms in Hancock, Wisconsin, where eddy covariance (EC) sensors, along with basic meteorological sensors, are mounted several feet above the potato crop canopy, on a 7-foot tripod, to capture the water and carbon exchanges. The equipment on the research site has been in operation since June 29, 2018.

with a goal to improve forecasting of agricultural drought. Climate extremes such as heat waves and droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity. Such droughts have already threatened the Midwest agricultural system. For example, the 2012 North Central America megadrought reduced maize and soybean production in the Midwest by 13 percent and 3 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year. New measurements from “eddy covariance Flux Towers” allow scientists to directly observe changes in plant water use in droughts like

these. WATCHING WATER The eddy covariance (EC) technique is a well-established and standard method to directly observe exchanges of heat, water, momentum and carbon at field scale from instruments mounted on towers above a vegetated canopy. Worldwide, there are over 400 EC Flux Tower sites, including several run for nearly two decades by Dr. Desai’s lab in Northern Wisconsin. High-tech American-manufactured instruments, shown in the accompanying images, directly measure motions of “turbulent

on an Irrigated Potato Field

Figure 1: Comparison of Model versus Observed.

eddies” in the atmosphere and the amount of water, heat or carbon dioxide being carried away by them at 10 times a second! Last summer, Dr. Desai’s lab established two research sites, one located on a sixth-generation family potato farm—Heartland Farms in Hancock, Wisconsin—and one on a red pine plantation in the Tri-County School Forest northeast of Heartland Farms.

EC sensors, along with basic meteorological sensors, are mounted several feet above the potato crop canopy to capture the water and carbon exchanges from a 7-foot tripod for the farm, and from a retractable, trailer-based, 100-foot Flux Tower for the pine plantation. UW researcher Jonathan Thom manages the towers, using cellular technology to remotely monitor their 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year operation.

Above: A trailer-based, 100-foot retractable eddy covariance (EC) Flux Tower, located on a pine plantation in the Tri-County School Forest northeast of Heartland Farms, has been in operation since October 13, 2018. continued on pg. 22

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BC�T December 21

Comparing Evapotranspiration. . . continued from pg. 21

Water losses are monitored at these sites at half-hourly timescales, continuing from now on up to the next three years. IMPROVING IRRIGATION One way these observations can help is by evaluating simulation models of plant water use. For irrigation scheduling, farmers often rely on the Wisconsin Irrigation and Scheduling Program (WISP) model, developed by soil scientists at UW-Madison and based on satellite data. Initial summer 2018 comparisons of observed cumulative evapotranspiration (ET) from the potato field finds that WISP underestimates ET in July and overestimates it in late summer and fall (Figure 1). Total evaporative water loss on the field was nearly eight times higher in July than October. The pine tower only recently began operations. Initial comparisons of the first few days of overlap in October 2018 for half-hourly measurements at the two sites find pine plantation ET typically higher than the nowharvested potato field (Figure 2). However, without multiple seasons of observations, one cannot conclude that trees consume more water or trees can be replaced with crops for water conservation. Additionally, tower observations need to be combined with groundwater recharge to determine the overall water balance differences

Figure 2: Water loss for Potatoes versus Pine. (Bottom numbers are Day, Month, Year, Hour).

at the two sites. To scale these measurements, Professor Desai’s Ph.D. student, Ammara Talib, is pursuing methods to combine the observations with those from the recently launched NASA ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment mission (ECOSTRESS) and the polar-orbiting NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) microwave satellite. From these, the team can develop a locally calibrated water use product to help develop an improved fieldscale agricultural drought forecasting product. FORECASTING DROUGHT Reliable seasonal forecasting of agricultural drought, whereby precipitation deficits or enhanced water loss lead to reduced crop yields, is currently a pipe dream.

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The 2012 North Central America drought was not forecast well in terms of its magnitude. This underprediction is due to missing information on land-atmosphere coupling. As part of her Ph.D. dissertation, Talib is developing new methods to forecast these droughts using the tower and satellite observations of plant water use. If successful, the analysis will provide field-specific, regionally accurate maps of ET and drought risk for crops in the Central Sands. Information about crop water loss and demand is critical for healthy plant growth and improving crop yield forecasts and irrigation planning. Open-access data on plant water use in the Central Sands area will provide researchers, policymakers and farmers insight into crop health and water use. Professor Desai looks forward to continuing his partnerships with the WPVGA, Wisconsin DNR, Heartland Farms and Tri-County School Forest, and hopes this work allows the region to address water conservation without compromising crop yield.










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Now News Alsum Farms Celebrates 45th Anniversary Attendees saw firsthand how red potatoes are harvested at field day Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc. celebrates 45 years as an innovative grower, packer and shipper of locally grown potatoes and onions, and provider of fresh, quality produce.

According to chief operating officers Heidi Alsum-Randall and Wendy Alsum-Dykstra, company associates saw firsthand how red potatoes are harvested from farm fields.

“We began 45 years ago with Wisconsin potatoes and onions,” says Alsum Farms & Produce President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Alsum. “Our success over the past 45 years is because of a great team of Alsum employees who are dedicated to serving our customers every day.”

For lunch, staff enjoyed roasted red potatoes with all the fixings in celebration of not only the 45th anniversary, but also the new crop Wisconsin potato harvest.

In honor of its 45th anniversary, Alsum Farms & Produce hosted Farm Field Days, August 14-15, at the farm in Arena, Wisconsin.

From humble beginnings in 1973, Glen Alsum started the family-owned and operated business in a 16x20foot shed, repacking potatoes and onions and selling them to local grocery stores. After Glen’s tragic death in February

Above: Founded in 1973, Alsum Farms & Produce, a second-generation familyowned-and-operated farm, involves Larry Alsum (center) working alongside several family members, including his two daughters, Wendy Alsum-Dykstra (left) and Heidi Alsum-Randall (right). Top of Page: The Alsum Farms & Produce staff poses with potato harvest equipment.

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1981, his cousin, Larry, became general manager and owner, and continues to serve as the company’s visionary leader. FEET FROM ORIGINAL SHED Today, Alsum Farms & Produce remains headquartered mere feet

away from that original packing shed and has emerged from a one-person operation to a leading national grower, packer and shipper of russet, red, white, golden, fingerling and organic potatoes. Alsum Farms & Produce is a national distributor of Wisconsin potatoes and onions, and Great Lakes region yearround distributor of over 300 kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which are locally grown in season. Continued growth and expansion led Alsum Farms & Produce to its current 382,000 square feet of office, production, maintenance,

transportation, cooler and potato storage space in Friesland and Arena, Wisconsin, as well as 200 full-time employees and nearly 2,500 acres of fresh potatoes. The farm operation’s latest expansion includes adding a storage bin in Friesland. The new bin features a state-of-the-art air flow system, including in-floor circulation, that allows for an even air flow to potatoes throughout the storage bin, no matter if they are stored bulk or in macro bins. Alsum continues to focus on innovation, sustainability, food safety

and serving its people. Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc. packs potatoes and onions under the Alsum Farms & Produce brand. Organic potatoes are packed under the Alsum Organics and Rainbow Organics labels. Alsum also packs unclassified potatoes under the Family Favorite brand and repacks sweet potatoes and oranges under the Alsum Farms & Produce label. To learn more about Alsum Farms & Produce, its full line of products or for delicious potato recipes, visit www.alsum.com.

Antigo Flats Produce Group Holds Field Day Topics include cover crops, aquifer, soil health and edge-of-field monitoring The Antigo Flats Producer Group hosted a field day, November 8, at the Langlade County Airport in Antigo, Wisconsin, to discuss cover crop trials, edge-of-field monitoring projects, the aquifer under the Antigo Flats and a soil health challenge extended to all local growers to try in 2019. Chuck Bolte, a precision ag and nutrient management supervisor for AgSource Laboratories, welcomed growers, researchers and industry associates, and introduced the day’s presenters. Dan Marzu, a University of Wisconsin-Extension agricultural

educator working in Lincoln and Langlade counties, explained the cover crop trials at the airport and how cover crops can fit into potatoand vegetable-growing rotations. Marzu asked attendees to consider their objectives in planting cover crops and such things as pH levels, timing of fall plantings, soil type and characteristics, climate, and root growth, both vertically and horizontally, of cover crops. Oats, winter rye, cereal rye, red clover, winter and spring wheat, field peas, radish, turnips and mustard all got mentions, as well continued on pg. 26

Above: Chuck Bolte, dressed in his AgSource Laboratories blues, gave opening remarks at the Antigo Flats Producer Group Field Day, November 8, at the Langlade County Airport in Antigo, Wisconsin.

BC�T December 25

Now News. . .

continued from pg. 25

Dan Marzu, in blue coat and brown cap, a University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture educator, gave a presentation on cover crop trials being conducted at the Langlade County Research Station.

as bio-fumigation, suppression of soil-borne fungal pests and nematode control. Guests were invited outside to see the cover crops, but they were warned that the lack of warm days and sunshine, as well as excessive


rain in the fall of 2018, had stunted the growth of the crops. ANTIGO FLATS AQUIFER Dave Hart from the Wisconsin Geological Society talked about the aquifer under the Antigo Flats and how irrigation can affect it.

He explained that recharge occurs everywhere, not just in uplands,

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Hart and an academic staff of state geologists conduct groundwater modeling and provide maps, fact sheets and outreach to regional students and interested parties.

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including in sands and silts. There was a lively discussion on the aquifer and how water starts at high levels, seeps along toward lower levels, and fills up all the spaces in between the grains of sands and soils, creating the aquifer. The aquifer is not an underground river, stream or lake, but saturated sand, silt and soil. Groundwater feeds the aquifer, and irrigation pumping could divert some of the water that would normally seep into rivers, lakes and streams. Yet, growers have been irrigating in the area since the pre-1960’s, and the outwash plains of the Antigo Flats make for excellent silt loam soils that store water and create a healthy aquifer. In closing, Hart said the area needs more data, as people have not been monitoring groundwater levels,

to determine how groundwater levels are affected by drought, high precipitation and well pumping. SOIL HEALTH CHALLENGE Bolte discussed sustainable resources such as soil, water and air, as well as the money generated from farming, and said that soil health helps sustain plants, animals and humans. He requested that all area growers have soil analyses conducted on their fields to measure carbon and nitrogen. Calling it his “soil your undies farm challenge,” Bolte asked growers to “plant” a pair of 100 percent cotton underwear 1-6 inches underground in a field in the spring and to dig them up in the fall. If the soil is healthy, Bolte said, there will be nothing left of the underwear. Eric Cooley, co-director of University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms—a farmer-led water quality research

and educational program—gave a presentation on edge-of-field monitoring and trying to mitigate soil and nutrient loss. Cooley and his team are working with Antigo-area farmers, collecting water, soil, run-off, sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus data. They set up stations and monitor edge-of-field runoff 365 days of the year. In all, 200 sites are monitored, and they can collect data for three-to-seven years on a single site. The Wisconsin Potato Industry Board has made significant monetary contributions to the project. The Antigo Flats Field Day was an information packed event that left attendees with not only satisfied stomachs from a lunch of Subway sandwiches and chips, but also ideas, initiatives and challenges for the year to come.

New Personal Property Tax Exemption for 2018 Machinery exemption included in Budget Act and signed into law in 2017 By Jordan Lamb and Wes Webendorfer, DeWitt Ross & Stevens Wisconsin businesses have long advocated for the repeal of the state’s personal property tax, arguing that it is unfair, antiquated and stifles private sector investment. Compliance with the tax is also challenging and expensive. Every year, businesses are required to inventory and determine the fair market value of a wide range of business personal property and report the figures to local tax assessors. This can take many hours and distracts owners, managers and employees from running their businesses.

(Budget Act) and signed into law in the fall of 2017. Machinery is defined as “a structure or assemblage of parts that transmits forces, motion or energy from one part to another in a predetermined way by electrical, mechanical or chemical means.”

EXEMPT DEVICES A device is now likely exempt from personal property tax if it plugs in, is fueled in some manner or contains a mechanism to make it run. Businesses will be able to exempt an array of office equipment under the “machinery” exemption that was continued on pg. 28

Fortunately, since January 1, 2018, Wisconsin businesses have had the ability to utilize a new exemption to the personal property tax for “machinery” that was included in the 2017-2019 Biennial Budget Act BC�T December 27

Now News. . .

continued from pg. 27

previously subject to tax.

of Personal Property.

In practice, this means that members will no longer report property that was previously listed under Schedules C (machinery, tools and patterns) and D-1 (regarding computer equipment and software) of the Statement of Personal Property form issued by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

While the new exemption for machinery is a welcome change, WPVGA members should consider the following actions to ensure they are obtaining the benefits of the new tax law:

March 1 is the annual due date for businesses to self-report taxable personal property to their local assessors on the Statement

• Consult a tax accountant and/or attorney to determine whether specific items of personal property are subject to the “machinery” exemption; • Update your list of personal

property and ensure tax records are well-organized; and • Compile evidence to justify items previously reported as taxable that may be exempt beginning in 2018, as assessors may ask to examine personal property listed on the Statement of Personal Property. The WPVGA will continue to support future efforts in the Wisconsin legislature to completely repeal the state’s business personal property tax.

Latin American Frito-Lay Growers Visit Wisconsin Farms Study tour brings potato farmers together from far reaches of the continent Wisconsin potato growers hosted a large contingent of Latin American (LATAM) Frito-Lay suppliers, a trip arranged by PepsiCo, October 16, 2018, during a difficult harvest season. Feedback from the LATAM supplier group was enthusiastic and filled with appreciation for the hospitality of the Wisconsin growers, which included Schroeder Brothers Farms, Wild Seed Farms Inc., Heartland Farms Inc. and the Wysocki Family of Companies. The LATAM group was made up of 19 growers from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.


Frito-Lay growers from Latin America took time to pose for a picture with their Wisconsin counterparts, as well as PepsiCo and U.S. Frito-Lay team members, October 16, 2018, during their visit to state potato farms. At rear-center are J.D. Schroeder (red jacket) and Eric Schroeder (to J.D.’s left, or readers’ right, with beard) of Schroeder Brothers Farms in Antigo, Wisconsin.

“On behalf of PepsiCo and the U.S. team, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to


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host the big LATAM supplier group. The feedback and appreciation received are at the highest level,” says Frito-Lay Senior Director Gerhard Bester. “We know this was a really, really busy and stressful time for you, but it never showed during the visit,” Bester adds. “Thanks for sharing your learnings and best practices with the PepsiCo family.” “Also,” he concludes, “the LATAM growers have invited you to visit when you are interested! Let me know and we will hook you up with the correct people.”

Sen. Patrick Testin Goes “On the Job” at Insight FS Monthly business visits highlight diversity of jobs available in 24th District

As part of his “On the Job” series, Sen. Patrick Testin (left) visited Insight FS at the company’s Wautoma, Wisconsin, location, where, among other hands-on experiences, he examined plant roots with an agronomist.

Once a month, Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) goes “On the Job” with a business in Central Wisconsin, and July 2018’s host was the Wautoma location of Insight FS. Sen. Testin got a real hands-on experience with the agricultural cooperative, mixing fertilizer, learning about agronomy and changing valves on propane tanks and hoses. “I started this series to highlight the diversity of jobs available in the 24th District,” says Sen. Testin. “Across the state, Insight FS employs hundreds of people in a wide range of jobs— everything from propane sales and service to agronomy, feed sales and agri-finance.” Insight FS employs 13 full-time, one part-time and four seasonal employees in Wautoma. In addition to the Wautoma location, Insight FS has staffed offices in other

parts of the 24th Senate District, including Sparta, Wisconsin Rapids and Amherst Junction.

Highlighting the diversity of jobs available in Wisconsin’s 24th District, Sen. Patrick Testin (left) visited Insight FS, in July, and proved up to the job of removing a valve from a hose using a large pipe wrench.

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Seed Piece

Spuds Displayed at Potato Variety Harvest Expo Hancock Ag Research Station gave visitors a treat on Halloween day

A time-honored tradition, the Potato Variety Harvest Expo at the

Hancock Agricultural Research Station is a chance for University of Wisconsin researchers to share the tubers they’ve been testing over the past year. On Wednesday, October 31, more than 100 varieties and advanced potato clones, along with applicable data on them, were on full display, harvested from several conditions in Hancock and at the Langlade Experimental Station in Antigo. The Potato Variety Expo, held in conjunction with the SpudPro Board meeting, is a chance for researchers to showcase their work over the past year and update growers and industry professionals on their progress in the breeding program. The mission of the Wisconsin Potato

& Vegetable Growers Association SpudPro Committee is to advance the state’s potato breeding lines to variety status by providing foundation seed as a platform for industry review, adoption and commercialization. One variety—W8405-1R—was

Above: More than 100 varieties and advanced potato clones were on display during the 2018 Potato Variety Harvest Expo, held at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station, October 31.

officially named “Red Prairie” at the meeting, in part because of the role Prairie Star Ranch in Plover, Wisconsin, played in growing and testing the red potatoes. Red Prairie potatoes exhibit color comparable to Red Norland but with roughly five tubers more per plant, so a high yield, good skin set, average tolerance to common scab, hollow heart resistance, shallow eyes and

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J.D. Schroeder (left) of Schroeder Brothers Farms and Mark Finnessy (right), Okray Family Farms, evaluate potatoes exhibited at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station.

an oblong shape, and are slightly susceptible to internal brown spot. HARVEST COULDN’T WAIT To accommodate many Wisconsin

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Moriah Rataczak (left) and Kalie Christensen (right), both of Gumz Muck Farms, study tubers on display at the Potato Variety Harvest Expo.

growers who were still harvesting on the last day of October, the Potato Variety Expo schedule was extended until 8 p.m. so interested parties

could still attend. Information was shared on performance of 28 potatoes under

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Seed Piece. . .

continued from pg. 31

During the Potato Variety Expo, information was shared on the performance of 28 potatoes, including Goldrush and Oneida Gold, under low and standard nitrogen applications.

can evaluate the potatoes and tout their attributes and characteristics, all to get growers excited about trying new tubers.

low nitrogen application and 78 varieties over four growing conditions in Wisconsin, as well as local fresh market box bin and Potatoes USA national chip box bin trials.

as whether they have fresh market potential and how long they can go in the packing season. It is then up to growers to push them into the market and onto the farm.

The HARS box bin trials are part of an effort to get new lines in front of the public eye and determine such things

There was lively discussion on promoting new Wisconsin varieties and getting them out to parties who

As part of that effort, please look forward to future Badger Common’Tater articles on new Wisconsin potato varieties.

2018 University of Wisconsin Calcium Potato Trials A 2018 UW research study compared TerraNu Calcium™ to other calcium sources for potato nutrition. The study was conducted on chip potatoes, Atlantic variety, by Dr. Matt Ruark and his team at the University of Wisconsin-Hancock Agricultural Research Station. Potato quality assessments were conducted by UW and Techmark, Inc. Study conclusions: 99 TerraNu Calcium improved gravity and reduced the amounts of sucrose and glucose, when compared to gypsum, pelletized gypsum and control. 99 Applying TerraNu Calcium reduced total defects (internal and external) between 2-21% when compared to other treatments.

32 BC�T December

Hancock, WI | 2018 Left: TerraNu Calcium applied Right: Check, no TerraNu Calcium applied

Visit us in booth 925 at the 2019 Potato Expo in Austin, TX!


Allied Cooperative Announces New CEO Tim Clemens has held roles in agronomy, grain, feed, energy and retail

Allied Cooperative announces that Timothy Diemert has retired as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) after 30 years at the helm. Tim Clemens, who has served as Chief Financial and Operations Officer for Allied since 2014, has been named Diemert’s successor. “We are confident in Tim Clemens’ leadership abilities, and believe that his significant agri-business experience and expertise, as well as his knowledge of our culture, make him an ideal fit for leading Allied Cooperative through our next stages of growth,” says Board Chairman John Vehrenkamp. Clemens has worked in the cooperative system since 1979, with roles in agronomy, grain, feed, energy and retail. Before joining Allied, he served as CEO for Greenway Cooperative in Rochester, Minnesota. “The opportunities that lie ahead for Allied Cooperative are many, and the

After 30 years at the helm of Allied Cooperative, Timothy Diemert (right) passes Allied Cooperative’s leadership baton to his successor, Tim Clemens (left).

ability to lead this next chapter of our cooperative is deeply humbling,” Clemens says. “I am looking forward to working closely with the Board of Directors and our great team of

Data Management

employees to build on our legacy.” “On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank Tim Diemert for his vision, leadership and significant contributions to our cooperative throughout his three decades with the co-op,” says Vehrenkamp. “He created significant shareholder value and positioned the company for a great future,” Vehrenkamp adds. “Our co-op is strong and ready for the future. We look forward to a seamless transition."

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Allied Cooperative has locations in Adams, Arcadia, Blair, Galesville, Mauston, Mindoro, Plainfield, Plover, Tomah, West Salem and Wisconsin Rapids. For more information on Allied Cooperative, go to www.allied.coop.

Joan “Tippy” Williams Passes Away Joan Mary (Steiner) Williams was born March 15, 1937, in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, to Marie and Edwin Steiner. She was the youngest of five children. Known to most as “Tippy,” she married Howard Williams on April 19, 1958, moved to Hancock and soon after started a family. She lived her entire adult life on the farm, loved gardening, and many of her stories were of working with her kids and parents in the fields and gardens. Tippy worked hard to manage the family farm and even won the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary “Potato Industry Woman of the Year” award in 2008. She loved her grandchildren and was very proud of all of them. She bragged about how good they all were, enjoyed watching them in their accomplishments and was always willing to give them a hand up and a kind word.

sisters, Joyce Vidal and Audrey Yanke; brother, Jerome Steiner; son, Lawrence Williams; son-in-law, John Nelson; and special friends Shirley and Gerald Wittenberg, Romona Steiner and Donna Janicki. She is survived by her sister, Arlene (Thomas) O’Day; children, Lori (Richard) Beggs, Randy (Emma) Williams and Christy Nelson; and daughter-in-law, Rita Williams. Joan is also survived by grandchildren, Chad (Nicole) Williams, Casey Olson, Jami West, Lacee (Christopher) Griffin, Ashley (Bobby) Sanborn and Tauren Beggs; 10 great-grandchildren; several beloved nieces and nephews; and special friends, Lewis and Michelle Holmes, Mary Ann

Muehe and Karen Giese. Donations can be made to Hancock Community Center, Hancock, WI 54943. continued on pg. 36

In her early years, Joan loved to travel with both Howard and her friends. She traveled through Europe and the United States and loved to catch entertaining shows anywhere she could. She had a love for sports, whether watching them on TV or catching a game at the ballpark. SERVED THOSE IN NEED Tippy was incredibly generous to anyone in need, and she will be missed by many. She passed peacefully at her home, October 17, with her family around her. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Hancock Community Center would be appreciated. Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Howard Williams; parents, Marie and Edwin Steiner; BC�T December 35

People. . .

continued from pg. 35

Syngenta Announces 2018 #RootedinAg Contest Winner Katharine Girone of Varna, Illinois, is the grand prize winner of the 2018 Thrive #RootedinAg contest from Syngenta. This contest challenges growers and other ag industry professionals across the country to describe the person who most nourished their agricultural roots. Girone, who works as a program coordinator for 4-H youth development at the University of Illinois Extension in Pekin, Illinois, and helps her family operate a fifthgeneration farm, chose to honor her grandfather, Kenneth McKee. In her winning essay, she wrote, “Though my grandfather is not as young as he once was, when I look at him, I still see the hands of a faithful farmer: hands worn by hard, physical labor; hands that have held life; hands that sowed the seed to feed the world; and hands that welcome me home.” Girone’s story resonated with both online voters and a panel of judges. Now, after receiving a mini touchscreen tablet, along with four other deserving finalists, Girone also won a $500 gift card. Additionally, Syngenta will make a $1,000 donation in her name to the Tazewell County 4-H program. Girone chose this group for the pivotal role it has played in shaping her relationship 70 No. opy | Volume $18/year | $1.50/c



BER 2018 11 | NOVEM



Katharine Girone (left) chose to honor her grandfather, Kenneth McKee (right), as the person who most nourished her agricultural roots.

with her grandfather. GIVING BACK “In my tenure as a 4-H member, my grandfather made it to every 4-H show of mine,” she says. “He is a 4-H alumnus, a retired 4-H leader and retired 4-H sheep department superintendent. Giving back to this amazing organization that has affected both of us so deeply only seems fitting.” 2018 marks the fifth consecutive year Syngenta has sponsored an essay contest for its Thrive magazine and website readers. With her win, Girone joins an impressive group of #RootedinAg winners. “We thank everyone who shared their inspirational stories with us and who took the time to vote

Badger Common’Tater



Baginski MikeFarm s Inc. Baginski & Ag Logistics

& BISON: SEED POTATOES Wisconsin Match Made in UM APPLY ING STADI e To Tubers in Storag CERTI FIED 2018 WISCO NSIN Directory rs Seed Potato Growe TO ERS OVERCOME BARRI Success Farm Succession SSOR SEED OAT PROCE rs Helps Potato Growe

” Potatoes at digging of “Creamer Potato Co. er witnessed the The Little Early Septemb Wisconsin, for Inc. of Antigo, Baginski Farms

36 BC�T December

for their favorite finalist,” says Syngenta communications manager, Wendell Calhoun. “Our winner is an exceptional young woman who credits her grandfather with helping to instill her love of agriculture.” “We share that love and are excited to not only honor Katharine and Kenneth, but to give back to 4-H, an organization that benefits so many young people in local communities,” Calhoun says. In 2019, the contest will continue, and readers will be invited to tell their own stories of how they are #RootedinAg. To learn more about the contest or to read other ag news stories, go to www.SyngentaThrive. com. Join the conversation online by connecting to www.syngenta-us. com/social.

Subscribe Today!

Whether you are a grower, industry partner or simply enjoy rural life, sign up to receive this prestigious publication in print version, delivered direct to your mailbox for $18/year (12 issues). wisconsinpotatoes.com/blog-news/subscribe

Attend the 2019 WPVGA Grower Education Conference & Industry Show ASSOCIATE DIVISION Nominate a peer as the 2018 WPVGA Associate Division Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, Inc. Business Person of the Year OF THE

Please either photocopy these forms, fill them out and fax, mail or email E-MAIL: them to the addresses given in each

P.O. BOX 327, ANTIGO, WISCONSIN 54409-0327

form, or visit www.wisconsinpotatoes. down to download Individual or Group PHONE (715) 623-7683 - FAX (715) 623-3176 com/events/2019-grower-educationRegistration Forms. wpvga@wisconsinpotatoes.com • WEB: www.wisconsinpotatoes.com conference-industry-show/ and scroll


The WPVGA Associate Division is acceptingOF nominations for the 2017 Associate Division Business THE Person of the Year Award. Nominees must be members of the Associate Division who have made Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, Inc. significant contributions to the potato and vegetable industry either this year or over a period of years. P.O. BOX 327, ANTIGO, WISCONSIN 54409-0327 PHONE (715) 623-7683 - FAX (715) 623-3176 time and give consideration to those deserving of this award. Your nomination E-MAIL: wpvga@wisconsinpotatoes.com • WEB: www.wisconsinpotatoes.com

Take some is appreciated. Please email jbraun@wisconsinpotatoes.com or fax (715-623-3176) a completed form to the WPVGA office noislater than December 29, 2017. Thank The WPVGA Associate Division accepting nominations for the 2018 you. Associate Division Business

Person of the Year Award. Nominees must be members of the Associate Division who have made significant contributions to the potato and vegetable industry either this year or over a period of years. The WPVGA Associate Division isFOR accepting for the 2017 Associate Division Business NOMINATION THEnominations 2017 WPVGA ASSOCIATE DIVISION Person of the Year Award. Nominees must be PERSON members ofOF theTHE Associate Division who have made BUSINESS YEAR Take some time and give consideration to those deserving of this award. Your nomination is significant contributions to the potato and vegetable industry either this year or over a period of years. appreciated. Please email jbraun@wisconsinpotatoes.com or fax (715-623-3176) completed form toNAME: the WPVGA office no later than December 28, 2018. Thank you. Take some time and give consideration to those deserving of this award. Your nomination is BUSINESS appreciated. Please email jbraun@wisconsinpotatoes.com or fax (715-623-3176) a completed form to the WPVGA office no later than December 29, 2017. Thank you.





Nominated By:

Nominated By: 38 BC�T December

Nominated By:

business industry individuals “Working With Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers”

WPVGA Grower Education Conference and Industry Show February 5-7, 2019 Holiday Inn, Stevens Point, WI INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATION FORM

(One registrant per sheet. Please type or print.)

Name: _______________________________ Company: ________________________ Address: ______________________________________________________________ Phone: _____________________________ E-Mail: __________________________ BEFORE January 19, 2019 WPVGA Non-WPVGA Members: Members: □ $90

□ $130

□ $40

□ $55

□ $40

□ $55

□ $25

□ $40

□ $40

□ $40

□ Filet Mignon □ Salmon

□ Filet Mignon □ Salmon

REGISTRATION Full conference (includes lunches) One Day: Tuesday (includes lunch) One Day: Wednesday (includes lunch) One Day: Thursday Industry Banquet (price includes one free drink!)

AFTER January 18, 2019 WPVGA Non-WPVGA Members: Members: □ $105

□ $155

□ $45

□ $60

□ $45

□ $60

□ $30

□ $45

□ $45

□ Filet Mignon □ Salmon

□ $45

□ Filet Mignon □ Salmon


Please make checks payable to and mail this form along with fees to: WPVGA PO Box 327 Antigo, WI 54409 (715) 623-7683

PAYMENT BY CREDIT CARD Credit Card Type: □ Visa □ MasterCard Cardholder’s Name: _______________________ Card Number: ____________________________ Expiration Date: ________/________ Verification Code: ________________ FAX this form to (715) 623-3176 –OR— Mail this form to: WPVGA PO Box 327 Antigo, WI 54409 (715) 623-7683

BC�T December 39


Kids Cling to Spudly at 5K Run/Walk

Above: Although chilly, more than 100 runners and walkers participated in the 2nd annual Tater Trot 5K Run/Walk in Friesland, Wisconsin, hosted by Alsum Farms on October 27.

By Dana Rady, WPVGA Director of Promotions & Consumer Education

Do you remember what it was like growing up and seeing Mickey, Minnie, Pooh, Tigger and all your favorite book and cartoon characters in person for the first time? Do you remember the excitement and anticipation? As my birthdays have come and gone since adolescence, I’ve only recently realized how much I forgot about the wonder, excitement and joy children exude in seeing a character magically come to life before their eyes and interact with them. Perhaps this realization is only obvious again now that I’m a mother and am experiencing this feeling through my kids’ eyes. But it’s a realization I’m reminded of every time I see Spudly interact not only with my boys, but also kids of all ages at the events he attends. The most recent of these events was 40 BC�T December

the Tater Trot 5K Run/Walk hosted by Alsum Farms and Produce in Friesland, Wisconsin, October 27. An event that encourages healthy and active lifestyles and inspires working the consumption of Wisconsin potatoes into one’s daily routine was a perfect fit for the Wisconsin potato industry’s mascot to attend. And Spudly could not have been a bigger hit! SPUDLY & LIL’ SPUDS More than 100 people ran, walked and visited the 2nd annual 5k event, and despite the cooler temperatures, kids came too, which brings me back to Spudly. Spudly shared with me that he had a great time interacting with the kids at this event, and it was obvious they did, too. At one point, a little girl was nearing

This little girl was so interested in showing Spudly some love that she didn’t even care about crossing the finish line during the children’s race portion of the Alsum Farms Tater Trot Run/Walk, October 27. Even Spudly’s gesture pointing her in the direction of the finish line didn’t make her budge!

This trio enjoys a little rest and relaxation while sitting on potato beanbag chairs and holding butter pillows inside the Spudmobile at the run/walk hosted by Alsum Farms.

Even adults couldn’t help but smile as they passed Spudly at the 2nd annual Tater Trot.

the finish line of the children’s race when suddenly she turned toward Spudly, who was standing to the side of the finish line high-fiving kids as they completed their race. She ran at him full-speed and almost jumped into a hug!

quite telling.

He tried pointing her toward the finish line, but she clung to him for dear life with a huge smile. While this was truly a precious moment for everyone who witnessed it, and certainly brightened my day when I saw the photo, it is also

How easy it is for children to have faith when they aren’t in control, and how easy it is for them to appreciate the smallest of life’s treasures. continued on pg. 42

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When you’re done hugging Spudly, why not toss a tater? These kids are doing just that in Friesland during the Tater Trot.

Spudly is good at giving high-fives to these kids as they prepare to start the children’s race portion of the 5K run/walk.

What do you expect from the seed potatoes that you buy?

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Wisconsin has it!

For a directory of Wisconsin Certified Seed Potato Growers or a free video, contact:


Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association, Inc. P.O. Box 173, Antigo, WI 54409 715-623-4039 www.potatoseed.org

View a directory of the Wisconsin Certified Seed Potato Growers on your smartphone.

WGA Innovation Expo Reinforces Relationships

Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Executive Director Tamas Houlihan (left) hands Steven Hamblen of Focus on Energy an individually wrapped “singles” microwavable potato at the 2018 WGA Innovation Expo.

Isn’t it refreshing when you can go to a work event and see people you know from other areas of the country or world that you don’t see on a regular basis? One comment common across different industries and vocations is how small the industry is (even though it’s big). This is a direct reflection of the connections members of a group have and maintain through friendships and relationships. When everyone gets together, things seem much more close-knit than may be

From left to right, Tom Bulgrin (seated), Charles Poches and Doug Bulgrin, representing Gumz Muck Farms in Endeavor, Wisconsin, work the booth at the 2018 WGA Innovation Expo, October 16-17.

apparent from a broader perspective. Such was the case at the Wisconsin Grocers Association (WGA) Innovation Expo on October 16 and 17, which was held at the Hyatt Regency and KI Center in Green Bay. Many people who stopped by the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) booth commented on their gratitude in working with Wisconsin potato growing and marketing organizations to get their clients locally-grown products.

WPVGA provided them and new contacts with store kits that contained images of point of purchase materials, shipping directories, Healthy Grown and Buy Local Kwik Lok tag examples and information on how to request the Spudmobile for an event or visit. The WGA Innovation Expo continues to be a valuable tool in connecting with retailers throughout the state and Midwest, and reinforcing relationships while also creating new ones.


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BC�T December 43

New Products Reinke Debuts Advanced Plus Control Panels Touchscreen gives growers access to flow meter input, pump control and more Growers now have a new smart irrigation tool that provides advanced control options from a customizable display. Reinke introduces RPM Advanced Plus™, a main control panel that combines multiple controls with a simple to use touchscreen. “Growers told us that they wanted to be able to customize their own panels but still have something that was easy to program,” says Reinke President Chris Roth. “Advanced Plus was designed for those growers, giving them a simple touchscreen panel with advanced options at a fraction of the price of other panels.”


s Paid Here, Stay ium He em r r P





To Kee ng. p Wisconsin Stro

For more information about the farm dividend program and how you may qualify, contact your local Rural Mutual agent. 44 BC�T December

Rural Mutual Insurance Company


Advanced Plus makes controlling pivots easier while offering enhanced options without the need to upgrade to the Preferred Panel, saving growers money. The panel is easy to program, giving growers access to the electronic flow meter input,

independent pump control, pressure restart and much more. Advanced Plus is ReinCloud-Ready®, which makes it easier for growers to have remote access control for increased efficiencies and peace of mind. It’s available with new systems and as a panel replacement

or upgrade on existing RPM panels. The product comes with a five-year warranty. Advanced Plus is now available through Reinke dealers. For more information on Advanced Plus and the entire line of RPM products, visit www.reinke.com.

Books Cover Potato Breeding and Cultivating Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing offers two volumes on sustainable cultivation Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing releases Achieving Sustainable Cultivation of Potatoes, Volume 1: Breeding Improved Varieties, Edited by Professor Gefu Wang-Pruski, and Volume 2: Production, Storage and Crop Protection, Edited by Dr. Stuart Wale. Potatoes are one of the world’s key food crops. Their nutritional value, and the fact that they can be grown with relatively few inputs in a wide range of environments, makes them an important food security crop. However, yields in developing countries are held back by factors such as poor cultivation practices and the impact of pests and diseases, while more intensive systems need to become “climate smart” to minimize environmental impact and adapt to climate change. Volume 1: Breeding Improved Varieties reviews developments in breeding, sensory and nutritional quality, as well as the challenges facing potato cultivation in particular regions.

The book assesses recent research on plant physiology and genetic diversity and their implications for conventional, hybrid and markerassisted breeding, as well as breeding varieties with desirable traits such as stress resistance. The book also looks at ways of enhancing nutritional properties and supporting smallholders in regions such as Africa and Latin America. VOLUME 2 Volume 2: Production, Storage and Crop Protection reveals key research on improving cultivation techniques at each stage in the value chain for potato production. Chapters range from modeling yields to nutrient and irrigation management and post-harvest storage, as well as advances in understanding and managing fungal, bacterial and viral diseases, and management of insect pests and weeds. The final part of the book discusses ways of monitoring and reducing the environmental impact

of potato cultivation. With their distinguished editors and international team of expert authors, the volumes will become standard references for potato scientists, growers, government and nongovernment agencies supporting potato cultivation. To obtain your copies, email Ashley Simon at Ashley.simon@bdspublishing.com, or visit http://www.bdspublishing.com/.

BC�T December 45

Auxiliary News By Devin Zarda, vice president, WPGA

Well, friends in mere weeks

your Facebook feeds will likely be filled with pictures of holiday parties and New Year’s resolutions. This got me thinking and reflecting on my first full year as vice president of the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary (WPGA). We’ve had quite a busy year. In 2018, we had over 80 classrooms and thousands of students participate in the Kids Dig Wisconsin Potatoes program. Just think of how many children learned about potatoes and that Wisconsin grows them right here in the state. We visited a few schools with the Spudmobile, and a few more were chosen for harvest parties to celebrate all their hard work in growing potatoes in classrooms. Though it is a topic that I haven’t touched on much, we as an

organization raise funds to provide educational scholarships to qualifying high school students looking to further their education.

We are so extremely grateful that past WPGA members had the foresight to put this into practice, so we can continue to help others seek higher education. As a board, we try to listen to our members. After the 2017 Annual Meeting and Banquet was held in the Plainfield area, we heard that rotating our venue would be appreciated. So, this year, we held them in Antigo, and had one of our largest turn-outs yet! After the meeting, we treated everyone to an amazing dinner and Above: The Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary held three “Paint and Sip” nights in 2018, two in the Plainfield area and one in Antigo. Left & Opposite Page: In 2018, the Wisconsin Spudmobile once again made its rounds to selected schools, some of which were chosen for harvest parties to celebrate the students’ hard work in growing potatoes in classrooms.

46 BC�T December

loads of raffle prizes. We also asked WPGA members to bring a donation for the Langlade County Humane Society, and we had enough items that I had to borrow a truck from our farm to take them all in! PAINT ’N SIP NIGHTS This year, we decided to do something different. We love treating our members, so we held three “Paint and Sip” nights, two in the Plainfield area and one in Antigo. Overall, we had close to 100 members show up to these events.

Don’t worry, Antigo, your second night is coming. Watch your mailbox for an invitation. The baked potato booth at the State Fair is a staple of the Auxiliary. We use the booth to help fund all the programs listed above. This year was quite warm, but still still saw sizeable enough crowds that we were able to donate to the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee again this year. Hunger Task Force helps feed

thousands of people throughout the greater Milwaukee area. We are proud to be able to partner with them. Keep your eyes on your mailbox because we have some fun new ideas coming in 2019. Not on our mailing list? Please give us a call at the office, 715-623-7683, to be added to the mailing list. Talk with you soon,


WPIB Focus Wisconsin Potato Assessment Collections: Two-Year Comparison Month




















































BC�T December 47

How Growers Can Pay Themselves There are several ways for ag producers to increase liquidity into retirement By Joseph Duda, principal, CliftonLarsonAllen Rochester I work with many closely held agribusiness operations and family farms in the region (mostly cash grain, dairy, swine and beef producers). As a certified public accountant, I like seeing my clients save money and pay down debt. For ag producers, I want to see them conserve capital and manage cash flows. This is especially important because the commodity markets continue to be volatile. Annual tax planning and financial planning are critical. Many families I work with see the farm as their retirement. Some have a gene in them that says paying taxes is bad. No one likes paying taxes, but it is a sign that you have a healthy business. What I think is a win for business owners is paying tax at the 48 BC�T December

appropriate technical level and not unnecessarily paying too much tax. For instance, the 12 percent federal tax bracket seems to be cheap compared to the 37 percent federal tax bracket that one could face. USING THE TAX CODE Ag producers can pay themselves in a variety of ways and increase liquidity into retirement. The most common way is through a W-2 wages or family draw. Less common is through commodity wages or investing in their retirement through available plans. Tax planning is an art form, and it requires some creative thinking as well as a strong understanding of your goals and the tax code. Currently, the tax code recognizes the difficult environment that farmers face and allows producers

and industry tax practitioners to use a variety of tools to manage taxable farm income annually. When we are working with agribusiness clients, some of the fundamental tools at our disposal include: • Cash-basis accounting • Deferring income on productionrelated crop insurance and deferring income using commodity contracts • Prepaying inputs prior to year-end • Using 199A deductions Above: Of the tools that growers and industry tax practitioners can use to manage taxable farm income annually are deferring income using commodity contracts and prepaying inputs prior to year-end, among many others. Disking is shown prior to potato planting on Schroeder Bros. Farms in Antigo, Wisconsin.

• Section 179 and 100 percent bonus depreciation • Farm income averaging and commodity wages, and contributing to retirement plans • Setting up charitable remainder trusts for retiring ag producers who have a significant amount of grain deferred to future years • Sole proprietor, partnership, C-Corporation, S-Corporation or cooperative structure These tools help farmers manage taxable income to accelerate income to fill up a lower tax bracket or defer income to future years where their tax bracket might not be so high. Avoiding a spike in your taxable income can save literally thousands of dollars by carefully considering issues such as income tax bracket, capital gains, self-employment tax, net investment income tax, additional Medicare tax

Ag producers can pay themselves in a variety of ways and increase liquidity into retirement. The most common way is through a W-2 wages or family draw. The sun rises over Wallendal Supply, Inc. in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin.

or alternative minimum tax.

tax liabilities.

COMMODITY WAGES Ag producers can pay themselves using commodity wages or gifts of commodities. This saves the family income or self-employment

In both instances, the commodity must be formally retitled and sold separately from the farm’s continued on pg. 50

BC�T December 49

How Growers Can Pay Themselves. . . continued from pg. 49

commodities. You can document the transaction with a worksheet stating the date, quantity and value of the commodity on the date it is transferred. This simple tool could be used more often. Producers can also pay themselves through retirement plans and defer income taxes. Options include a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP IRA), Simple IRA, 401k, defined benefit pension or cash balance plans. Many of the growers I work with use SEP IRA. This plan allows you to contribute up to $55,000 (20 percent of Schedule F self-employment income or 25 percent of employee wages). Contributions are deductible, and the percentage must be identical for all employees. New accounts must be

set up and contributions made by the March 1 or April 15 tax return due date. This option provides greater contributions than IRAs and no reporting requirements. One disadvantage is that the employer must fund it 100 percent. TAX PLANNING IS CRITICAL Many growers have high net worth but are illiquid because most of that net worth is tied to land values. If the family goal for that legacy asset called land is to pass it on to the next generation, it may never be sold. That’s why annual tax planning and financial planning are critical. At tax planning time, farm families and their advisors should have a financial plan that maps out the future, so they can think about some of the unknowns.

Let’s get it straight.

You will be able to answer questions about how much you should have in retirement accounts or when to take Social Security. You can discuss how much your business is worth and the possibilities of selling it. You will find some comfort in understanding how much of your assets can eventually be gifted to your children and grandchildren. CliftonLarsonAllen’s agriculture industry professionals can help you understand the many options you have to pay yourself, fund your operations and prepare for retirement. Tax planning can help keep your businesses healthy and your farm family prepared for the eventual transition to retirement.

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50 BC�T December AG-289A-BCT_Vantage_Brand_Print Ad_Get It Straight_7.25x4.75inch_0817.indd 1

15/09/2017 11:12:28 AM

EYES ON ASSOCIATES By WPVGA Associate Div. President Casey Kedrowski, Central Door Solutions

This month, I’d like to talk

about the members of the Associate Division Board of Directors working on behalf of the industry as part of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA). I certainly feel like we all put in our time at meetings, make major decisions affecting agriculture in the area and contribute to the potato and vegetable growing industry, but perhaps it doesn’t always get noticed. Maybe it’s time for a reminder for everyone and to recognize those on the Associate Division Board of Directors: Casey Kedrowski – Central Door Solutions (president) Joel Zalewski – Insight FS (vice president) Cathy Schommer – Compeer Financial (secretary) Rich Wilcox – Portage County Bank (treasurer) Nick Laudenbach – Fencil Urethane Systems Paul Cieslewicz – Sand County Equipment Chris Brooks – Central Door Solutions Kenton Mehlberg – T.I.P. Inc. I’ve been persistent in letting everyone know that we appreciate all the people and businesses that continue to patronize the board members listed above. This really is a great group of people who continually make important decisions that affect a lot of others

Please consider WPVGA Associate Division Board members and their respective companies when making business decisions and contracting out jobs, materials, machinery, tools or other products and services. The Board is, from left to right, Paul Cieslewicz of Sand County Equipment; Cathy Schommer, Compeer Financial; Kenton Mehlberg, T.I.P. Inc.; Rich Wilcox, Portage County Bank; Chris Brooks, Central Door Solutions; Joel Zalewski, Insight FS; Nick Laudenbach, Fencil Urethane Systems; and Casey Kedrowski, Central Door Solutions.

in the agriculture industry and throughout Wisconsin year after year. The people before us that have sat on the Board have laid down a great base to follow, and we always try our best to keep that initiative strong. We all understand that a handshake doesn’t mean what it used to, and loyalty really is a thing of the past, but every year price seems to mean more and more. While we are all trying to save a buck and be as efficient as possible,

next time you are in the business of making any kind of investment, please look at the people who I’ve listed, as well as past board members and any and all members of the WPVGA Associate Division, to see if they may be available to help. After all, anytime we can keep extra money in the community, we are all better off! Cheers,

Casey Kedrowski

WPVGA Associate Division President BC�T December 51

Potatoes USA News Guatemalan Chefs Conduct Potato Cooking Workshop Potatoes USA arranged for Guatemalan chefs to conduct a cooking workshop to teach consumers how to make delicious and nutritious U.S. potato dishes. The workshop took place at a local cooking studio equipped with multiple stations to allow for a truly hands-on experience. During the workshop, 30 attendees learned about the nutritional benefits of potatoes, as well as potato type information and uses while a local chef guided them through recipe preparation. To keep the workshop fun and engaging, the chef even incorporated games to test their potato knowledge. 52 BC�T December

Attendees of a cooking workshop in Guatemala learned about the nutritional benefits of U.S potatoes, as well as variety information and uses.

Workshop participants were excited to cook with the U.S. potatoes they’ve seen at the supermarkets, since many of them didn’t really know how to prepare them. Following the workshop, consumers expressed interest in making the recipes at home and were motivated to explore using U.S. potatoes in even more recipes.

continued on pg. 54

BC�T December 53

Potatoes USA News. . . continued from pg. 53

U.S. Potato Exports Start Marketing Year Down

The first quarter of the July 2018-June 2019 marketing year saw significant declines in U.S. potato exports compared to the same timeframe within the previous marketing year.

percent shortfall in the European crop this fall and resulting increase in prices will help to correct the U.S. export performance as the year progresses.

The volume of frozen potato product exports dropped 6 percent, with values down 5 percent. Dehydrated potato export volume and value are both down 7 percent, while the volume of fresh exports declined 12 percent with value off 10 percent.

U.S. frozen exports to Mexico face a 20 percent retaliatory tariff in response to the section 232 tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico. This has led to a 21 percent decline in U.S. exports to this market, with both Canada and the EU picking up significant market share.

These declines reflect the impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. potatoes put in place by Mexico and China. Additionally, competitor products from the European Union (EU) continue to reflect the low prices from the 2017 crop. It is hoped that the roughly 18

Frozen exports to the largest U.S. market, Japan, are down 3 percent as the EU continues to gain share in this market. Exports to Malaysia are off 19 percent with exports to Thailand down 18 percent. The decline in dehydrated exports is

due to a 29 percent drop to Japan, 51 percent decline to China and a 62 percent decline to the Philippines. The 20 percent decline in fresh exports to Canada, the largest market, has created the overall drop in exports, despite an increase of 39 percent to Mexico, 46 percent to Central America and 114 percent to South Korea. Significant declines of fresh exports to the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand have also contributed to the overall reduction. These figures are compiled by Bryant Christie Inc. based on figures supplied by Global Trade Stats. Potatoes USA accepts no liability for the content, nor for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of information contained within.




John Cooper • 715.370.3956 Hayden Henry • 715.370.0122 Rich Meyer • 715.370.5046 SWIDERSKIEQUIPMENT.COM 54 BC�T December CommonTaterAD_2018_V10.indd


11/9/18 2:43 PM

Badger Beat

-Expertise Are there other products we can create with the existing crop portfolio? Current consumer seems to support healthy multi-ingredient convenience products. Can our crops be incorpo such items in larger ways? What scale of agriculture and processing would be most beneficial in Wisconsin? Is it econo feasible to have a mix of scales, ranging from specialty processors to multi-national compan as what we have in the meat and cheese sectors? Are there other business models, such as cooperatives, that could be integral components o specialty crop industry? How can agriculture become as nimble as consumers? Who should be involved in helping us decide what to grow? What is an appropriate role for the university and the public sector?

What Is a Viable Future for Wisconsin Specialty Crops? •

• • •

Specialty crops have seen significant declines in value over the past few years

By Jed Colquhoun, UW-Madison DepartmentIt’softime Horticulture professor and Extension specialist, IPM program director and to take action, and we need your input and involvement. Friday chair for vegetable production research, and Paul Mitchell, UW-Madison Department of Agricultural and Applied Over the next several months, we’ll bring together small groups that include growers, commodity association an Economics professor and Extension specialist, Renk Agribusiness Institute director agency leadership, food processors, retailers and food innovators.

produces about 40 and responded b Wisconsin has a long history Additionally, of specialty crop and we’ll meetproduction with related industries thatconsistently have been in somewhat similar situations

of the nation’sproducts processed diversifying their portfolios, such as specialty meats,percent cheeses and fermentation (foods as well as brew processing, including potatoes, vegetables, cranberries and several other distilleries). snap beans. While the overall crop vegetables and fruits. supply has remained relatively We’ll assemble that input and present potential solutions for feedback at a Specialty Crop Summit in 2019. If yo constant from to 2016 as the Unfortunately, a coupleget of inour ideas, we’re all ears—please touch and we’d be pleased to hear 1970 from you! Nationally, Wisconsin ranks third in U.S. population has grown, per capita potato production, first in cranberry strengths in crop production that References: Mitchell, P.D. 2018. Wisconsin Specialtysnap Crops bean Situation and Outlook. 2018 consumption hasWisconsin declinedAgricultural O production and in the top three for contribute significantly to theWisconsin. Online: https://renk.aae.wisc.edu/documents/2018-agriculturalForum, January 25, 2018, Madison, from a high of 4.9 pounds per person several processing vegetables, such as economy forum-presentations/. described above are in 1973 to a low of 2.8 pounds in snap beans. particularly in peril. 2014. This significant presence on our continued on pg. 56 As an example, Wisconsin rather landscape is built on specialized infrastructure, suitable climate, Total Revenue Total Economic Activity irrigation availability and an expert Industry ($ million) ($ million) Total Jobs labor force. And specialty crops are significant economic contributors across Wisconsin’s rural communities. Potato and vegetable production alone accounts for over $750 million annually. In total, specialty crop production and processing account for more than $5.8 billion of annual economic impact and about 24,500 jobs (Table 1). Recent trends and statistics around Wisconsin’s specialty crops aren’t as rosy. As those involved in all aspects of agriculture, from equipment sales to growers and processors, know all too well, it’s challenging to find a crop that hasn’t seen significant declines in value over the past few years as prices track grain commodities and consumer preferences change (Table 2). Much of our processing strength has traditionally focused on a canned product. Fresh vegetable consumption almost doubled between 1970 and 2004, while canned vegetable availability has stagnated or declined (Figure 1).

Specialty Crop Production Potatoes Vegetables Cranberries Other Fruit Specialty Crop Processing Total Impacts

$695 $271 $228 $158 $38 $2,822 $3,517

$1,059 $413 $348 $241 $58 $4,781 $5,835

7,567 2,922 2,497 1,735 413 16,981 24,538

Table 1: Total economic and employment impacts of the specialty crop production and Table 1. Total economic and employment impacts of the specialty crop production and processing in Wisconsin ( processing in Wisconsin (2013-2015 Mitchell et al.,Crops 2017,and Economic 2015 average; Adapted from Mitchell etaverage; al., 2017,Adapted Economicfrom Impact of Specialty Irrigated Agriculture Impact of Specialty Crops and Irrigated Agriculture in Wisconsin). Wisconsin).

Prices received Dry beans Carrots, fresh Sweet corn, fresh Cucumbers, fresh Onions, fresh Potatoes, fresh Apples Grapes Strawberries Corn Soybean Milk, all

August 2017

August 2018

$29.50/cwt $28.90/cwt $26.80/cwt $16.00/cwt $13.60/cwt $14.61/cwt $0.426/lb $1,500/ton $84.70/cwt $3.27/bu $9.24/bu $18.10/cwt

$26.30/cwt $25.80/cwt $24.40/cwt $17.80/cwt $15.20/cwt $11.20/cwt $0.297/lb $1,310/ton $50.50/cwt $3.36/bu $8.59/bu $15.90/cwt

Prices paid Index for commodities and services, interest, taxes and farm wage rates (PPITW) PPITW 105.7 108.7

Table 2: Prices received and prices paid by farmers in August 2017 versus August 2018 Table 2. Prices received and prices paid by farmers in August 2017 versus August 2018 (USDA-NASS, nass.u (USDA-NASS, nass.usda.gov, accessed October 24, 2018). accessed October 24, 2018). BC�T December 55


Badger Beat. . .


continued from pg. 55

1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016


US all fresh vegetable

US all canned vegetable











110.0 100.0

90.00 80.00

90.0 80.0



US canned snap

1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016

60.00 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016


Figure 1. U.S. fresh versus canned vegetable per capita use from 1970 to 2016 (USDA-ERS Vegetabl 1,400.0

Figure 1: U.S. fresh versus to 20162016). (USDA-ERS Vegetable and Pulses Yearbook, 2016). US allcanned cannedvegetable vegetableper capita use from 1970Yearbook, 1,200.0


1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016

Through a combination of genetic 80.00 The season average price has improvements in new varieties and rebounded slightly since 2005 to $149 better management, Wisconsin snap 70.00 per cwt. in 2017, along with a single bean productivity has increased high year consistently over the last three 60.00 in 2013, presumably related to crop shortage after the 2012 decades from 2.9 tons per acre in Figure 1. U.S.(Figure2). fresh versus canned vegetable per capita use from 1970to to 2016 and2015. Pulses drought 1985 5.1 (USDA-ERS tons perVegetable acre in Yearbook, 2016).

While acreage1,000.0 has bounced around since 1993, the large amount of land in production in800.0 the lowest yield per acre year still produced about 600.0 100,000 tons less overall than the highest yield per acre year (Figure 3). 400.0 This scenario isn’t unique to snap 200.0 beans. In 2016, the total Wisconsin processing vegetable 0.0 crop value was 58 percent of what it was in 2013 (Mitchell 2018).

1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988

Snap bean production, like many cropping systems currently suffering from low prices, may have become too efficient for its own good.

Million pounds


Given110.00 this reduced demand, season average prices received (in 2009 100.00 have dropped precipitously dollars) from $525 per cwt. (hundredweight) 90.00 in 1975 to $126 per cwt. in 2005.

US canned snap bean supply


US canned snap bean p 5.00

1,400.0 1,200.0







400.0 200.0

Figure 2: U.S. canned snap bean supply, per capita availability and season average price in 2009 dollars (USDA-ERS Vegetable and Pulses Yearbook, 2016). snap bean per capita availability US canned 56 BC�T December 5.00














1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016




Million pounds


There were only a few commodities among those common in Wisconsin where the value increased from August 2017 to August 2018, while the farmers’ production cost continued to increase over that same time period.

6 6

Yield Yield (ton/A) (ton/A)

5 5

While potatoes have largely had a better economic outcome in recent years, they represent only one year in the crop rotation. Processing vegetables, corn and soybeans are important crops in a diversified rotation and a profitable system.

4 4 3 3 2 2

Tragedy of the Commons: “The maximum is not the optimum.” We can’t just grow more of what’s currently profitable or look at what’s profitable elsewhere and grow it here. We likely need to chart a new course.

2015 2015

2013 2013

2011 2011

2009 2009

2007 2007

2005 2005

2003 2003

2001 2001

1999 1999

1997 1997

1995 1995

1993 1993

1991 1991

85,000 85,000

Planted Planted acres acres

80,000 80,000 75,000 75,000 70,000 70,000 65,000 65,000 60,000 60,000

2015 2015

2014 2014

2013 2013

2012 2012

2011 2011


2009 2009

2010 2010


2008 2008

2007 2007

2006 2006

2005 2005

2004 2004

2003 2003

2001 2001

2002 2002

2000 2000

1999 1999

1998 1998

1997 1997

1996 1996

1995 1995

1993 1993

1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016

50,000 50,000

1994 1994

55,000 55,000

Figure 3: Wisconsin snap bean yield and planted acres (USDA-NASS, Figure 3. Wisconsin snap bean yield and planted acres (USDA-NASS, nass.usda.gov, accessed October 24, 2018). nass.usda.gov, accessed October 24, 2018). Figure 3. Wisconsin snap bean yield and planted acres (USDA-NASS, nass.usda.gov, accessed October 24, 2018).

continued on pg. 58

per capita availability

Wisconsin snap bean Wisconsin snap bean

90,000 90,000

Right now, we have questions and not answers, but would like to harness the creativity and energy found in the specialty crop industries that have made our diversified agriculture such a significant national player for so many years.


1989 1989

Garrett Hardin summarized the

1987 1987

0 0

1985 1985

1 1

p bean supply quite succinctly in The situation


Wisconsin snap bean Wisconsin snap bean

US canned snap bean season average price (2009 dollars) 550.00 500.00 450.00


400.00 350.00 300.00 250.00 200.00






































Figure 2. U.S. canned snap bean supply, per capita availability and season average price in 2009 dollars 2016 (USDA-ERS Vegetable and Pulses Yearbook, 2016). BC�T December 57

Badger Beat. . .

continued from pg. 57

Questions include: • Does the data reflect reality? The trends seem rather consistently downward, but is recovery possible? • Is it what we grow or how we grow it? Should we focus on local, organic, health benefits or other consumer-oriented traits? • Is there room in a pre-competitive space for new crop/market development? • What should we look at growing? • What are our region’s key attributes that should be considered? Possibilities include: -Climate. Our growing season is about 15 days longer than it was a century ago, while it’s shorter in the Southeastern United States (Figure 4.)

Figure 4: Change in growing season length by state from 1895 to 2015.

Figure 4. Change in growing season length by state from 1895 to 2015.

58 BC�T December

-Soils - Water availability, for both agronomy and processing -Pests, or lack thereof. Believe it or not, we have fewer and less intense pests than some regions that don’t enjoy such cold winters! -Transportation and nearby consumers

economically feasible to have a mix of scales, ranging from specialty processors to multi-national companies, such as what we have in the meat and cheese sectors? • Are there other business models, such as cooperatives, that could be integral components of a specialty crop industry? • How can agriculture become as nimble as consumers?

-Processing and storage infrastructure

• Who should be involved in helping us decide what to grow?

-Expertise • Are there other products we can create with the existing crop portfolio? Current consumerism seems to support healthy multiingredient convenience products. Can our crops be incorporated in such items in larger ways? • What scale of agriculture and processing would be most beneficial in Wisconsin? Is it

• What is an appropriate role for the university and the public sector? It’s time to take action, and we need your input and involvement. Over the next several months, we’ll bring together small groups that include growers, commodity association and public agency leadership, food processors, retailers and food innovators.

Additionally, we’ll meet with related industries that have been in somewhat similar situations and responded by diversifying their portfolios, such as specialty meats, cheeses and fermentation products (foods as well as breweries and distilleries). We’ll assemble that input and present potential solutions for feedback at a Specialty Crop Summit in 2019. If you have ideas, we’re all ears—please get in touch and we’d be pleased to hear from you! References: Mitchell, P.D. 2018. Wisconsin Specialty Crops Situation and Outlook. 2018 Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum, January 25, 2018, Madison, Wisconsin. Online: https://renk.aae.wisc.edu/ documents/2018-agriculturaloutlook-forum-presentations/.

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NPC News

NPC Salad Bar is a Hit with Kids

“Celebration of Potatoes” lunch includes Greek potato salad On November 8, the National Potato Council (NPC) and United Fresh Start Foundation joined students, teachers and school administrators at Lemon Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia for a “Celebration of Potatoes” lunchtime event. Kindergarten students learned how and where potatoes are grown, about different varieties, as well as potato nutrition benefits. All students also enjoyed a Greek-inspired potato salad from the school’s new salad bar. “Potatoes are highly nutritious, costeffective vegetables that kids love to eat. Salad bars empower schools to offer healthy potato options that meet all K-12 school foodservice guidelines,” says Kam Quarles, NPC vice president of public policy.


“We are proud to help Fairfax schools achieve their nutrition goals


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by introducing kids to new ways of enjoying potatoes,” Quarles adds. Earlier this year, the NPC partnered with the United Fresh Start Foundation to provide three salad bars to the Fairfax County Public Schools as part of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative. The donations also are part of a larger, multi-year potato industry campaign, which, over the past three years, has provided salad bars to more than 300 schools across the country. POTATOES ON THE MENU Recipient schools receive salad bars along with potato recipes, serving suggestions and other materials to assist K-12 school foodservice operators with incorporating potatoes on their menus. “The potato industry has been

60 BC�T December

a valuable partner in helping to provide salad bars to schools across the country,” says Andrew Marshall, United Fresh’s director of foodservice and foundation partnerships, representing the United Fresh Start Foundation. “The generosity of potato growers and the forethought of the potato industry to educate children about the different ways they can enjoy potatoes have yielded a successful partnership for all parties involved,” Marshall remarks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards for school lunch require offering students a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week. Salad bars provide an easy way for schools to meet this requirement. Children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar, and when offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices, they respond by incorporating greater variety and increasing their overall consumption. The United Fresh Start Foundation is a founding partner of the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative, working with the produce industry, foundations and allied businesses to support salad bars for schools as a strategy for increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables every day. To date, salad bars have been donated to more than 5,300 schools, benefitting 3 million children in all 50 states.

NPC Vice President of Public Policy Kam Quarles (left) poses with school administrators and students at Lemon Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia during a “Celebration of Potatoes” lunchtime event.


We are grateful for the special people in our lives. We thank you for your business and hope that you are surrounded by family and friends at this most joyous time of year. All of us wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. ❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆❄❅❆

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BC�T December 61

Innovative Approach to Crop Breeding Reliable method makes it easier to breed potato varieties with vastly improved traits By Dennis O’Brien, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Albany, California, have found a way to streamline the process that scientists use to insert multiple genes into a crop plant, developing a reliable method that will make it easier to breed a variety of crops with vastly improved traits. The technology is expected to speed up the process for developing new varieties of potatoes, rice, citrus and other crops that are better equipped to tolerate heat and drought, produce 62 BC�T December

higher yields and resist a myriad of diseases and pests.

outcomes,” says Roger Thilmony, an ARS molecular biologist in Albany.

Crops with greater resistance to pathogens and insects could greatly reduce pesticide use and prevent billions of dollars in crop losses.

A paper describing the achievement by Thilmony, James Thomson, an ARS geneticist in Albany, and Ray Collier, a former ARS postdoctoral researcher, was published in the August issue of The Plant Journal.

“Making genetic improvements that were difficult or impossible before will be much easier because we can now insert not just one or two genes, but multiple genes into a plant in a way that will lead to predictable

Above: Over the years, scientists have modified the genetics of soybeans, corn, canola and other crop plants to develop varieties that tolerate specific herbicides and resist insect pests.

LATE BLIGHT RESISTANCE The GAANTRY gene stacking technology will be freely available to anyone interested, and a commercial firm is planning to use it to introduce multiple genes into potatoes to make them more resistant to late blight, which is caused by a fungus-like organism.

extremely difficult,” explains Craig Richael, a director of research and

development for J.R. Simplot, continued on pg. 64

Late blight can destroy entire fields and force some farmers to spray fungicides up to 15 times a year. “We have struggled to put multiple late blight resistance genes into potatoes for years. They are very long, complex genes, and with existing technologies, it’s been Above: The J.R. Simplot Co. plans to use GAANTRY gene stacking technology to introduce multiple genes into potatoes to make them more resistant to late blight, which is caused by a fungus-like organism. Image courtesy of Scott Bauer BC�T December 63

Innovative Approach to Crop Breeding. . . continued from pg. 63

an Idaho-based company that produces French fries, frozen vegetables, fertilizer, turf grass seed and other products. “But the GAANTRY technology will help us tremendously,” Richael adds. Scientists over the years have modified the genetics of soybeans, corn, canola and other crop plants to develop varieties that tolerate specific herbicides and resist insect pests. MULTIPLE GENE INSERTION But those traits were controlled by one or two genes, and in most crop plants, important traits such as cold

64 BC�T December

and drought tolerance, yield and seed production are almost always controlled by multiple genes. Inserting more than two or three genes into the same site on a plant chromosome has been notoriously difficult. The researchers’ unique platform stabilizes large stacks of DNA needed for conferring key traits, allowing researchers to insert suites of genes “so precisely that no unintended DNA is added or lost during the process,” says Thomson. “Before this, assembling 10 genes to insert into a new line would be

difficult or impossible,” Thilmony says, “but this technology basically stabilizes the stack and makes for results that are more stable and much easier to predict.” Read the report in The Plant Journal at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/ doi/full/10.1111/tpj.13992. The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.

Ali's Kitchen

Dish out Decadent Scalloped Potatoes

They’re the “creamiest” and “cheesiest,” but don’t expect any leftovers Column and photos by Ali Carter, Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary Fifteen to 20 minutes of prep time and an hour in the oven will result in the creamiest, most decadently delicious potatoes! The trick to these cheesiest, creamiest potatoes is to use heavy cream, although whole milk can work in a pinch. And, while nearly any

potato will be just fine, russets or yellows are preferred for this recipe. If you manage to have any scalloped potatoes leftover, they are just as delicious the next day … but if your household is anything like mine, leftover potatoes are a rare thing! continued on pg. 66

Ingredients • 4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced • ¼ cup butter • ¼ cup all-purpose flour • 2 cups heavy cream • ½ teaspoon salt • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper • 1 cup grated Monterey jack cheese • ½ cup grated mozzarella • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese BC�T December 65

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Ali's Kitchen. . .

continued from pg. 65

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DIRECTIONS • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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• Lightly coat a 9x13-inch casserole dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

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• Evenly line the casserole dish with the sliced potatoes

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• Set aside while making cream sauce

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• For cream sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. • Slowly add the flour to the melted butter and whisk until well combined. • Stir in the milk, salt and pepper. • Reduce heat to a simmer and add the cheeses to the saucepan, stirring until fully melted and the sauce thickens. 66 BC�T December

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• Pour the cream sauce over potato slices in the casserole dish. • Place uncovered in the preheated oven and bake for one hour. Enjoy! Find more recipes at www.LifeOnGraniteRidge.com.

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