April 2020 Badger Common'Tater

Page 1

$22/year | $2/copy | Volume 72 No. 04 | APRIL 2020



RICH ANDERSON Roberts Irrigation

OUTSTANDING WOMEN Of Wisconsin Agriculture HEALTHY GROWN Celebrates 20 Years HOW AG DATA SERVICES Measure Evapotranspiration TEST YOUR SOIL FOR All Forms of Nitrogen


S Attention

ot be agazines will n m l ca si hy p 9, ling Due to COVID-1 ational subscribers until mai tern d, mailed to our in lifted. When restrictions en e ar r s n ei o th ceive restricti bscribers will re international su k issues. Thank you. current and bac

Water is put through a Reinke Model EII 2060 pivot system, available from Roberts Irrigation, for the first time in June 2018.

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On the Cover: Reinke pivot systems make up a significant share of the Roberts Irrigation product line. This issue’s interviewee, Rich Anderson, general manager of Roberts Irrigation, says the front cover image is of water being put through a Reinke EII 2060 system for the first time. The picture was taken, June 2018, at Ben Sankey Jr.’s farm just outside of Plover, Wisconsin.

8 BADGER COMMON’TATER INTERVIEW: When Alex Zorn (left), of Roberts Irrigation, got a call from the American Breeders Service, the last thing he expected was to be rescuing a bird trapped in the pillar of a Reinke EII pivot system. When asked about customer service, Rich Anderson, general manager of Roberts Irrigation in Plover and Bloomer, Wisconsin, replied, “Your success is our success,” and that the company is there for customers no matter their irrigation need.

DEPARTMENTS: ALI'S KITCHEN.................... 57 BADGER BEAT.................... 49 EYES ON ASSOCIATES......... 55


Award-winning program advances ag sustainability


New Potato Sustainability Alliance shares common vision across value chain


Press conference held on Capitol Hill calls for Senate to secure ag labor reform

MARK YOUR CALENDAR...... 6 MARKETPLACE................... 38 NEW PRODUCTS.............. 36 PEOPLE.............................. 47

FEATURE ARTICLES: 18 OUTSTANDING WOMEN further potato and vegetable production in Wisconsin 41 HOW EVAPOTRANSPIRATION is calculated by Agricultural Weather Data Service 53 SOIL TESTING SHOULD include ammonium and nitrogen to avoid costly mistakes 4

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PLANTING IDEAS.................. 6 POTATOES USA NEWS........ 35 WPIB FOCUS...................... 46



WPVGA Board of Directors: President: Rod Gumz Vice President: Bill Guenthner Secretary: Wes Meddaugh Treasurer: Mike Carter Directors: John Bustamante, Dan Kakes, Charlie Mattek & Alex Okray 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: Kenton Mehlberg Vice President: Paul Cieslewicz

Secretary: Julie Cartwright Treasurer: Rich Wilcox Directors: Chris Brooks, Kristi Kulas, Sally Suprise & Justin Yach Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association Board of Directors: President: Jeff Fassbender Vice President: J.D. Schroeder Secretary/Treasurer: Jeff Suchon Directors: Roy Gallenberg & Matt Mattek 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 Program Assistant: Jane Guillen Spudmobile Education & Outreach Coordinator: 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: $2/copy, $22/year; $40/2 years. Foreign subscription rates: $35/year; $55/2 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 April



Calendar APRIL



4-5 16-19 19


9 11 14 16 21-23


6-16 8 28-29

39TH ANNUAL CRAZYLEGS CLASSIC CANCELLED due to COVID-19 coronavirus WPVGA PROMOTIONS RETREAT Kalahari Resort and Convention Center Wisconsin Dells, WI UNITED FRESH San Diego Convention Center San Diego, CA WSPIA SPUD SEED CLASSIC GOLF OUTING Bass Lake Golf Course Deerbrook, WI RHINELANDER AG RESEARCH STATION FIELD DAY Rhinelander, WI PARDEEVILLE TRIATHLON Chandler Park, 8 a.m. Pardeeville, WI ASSOCIATE DIV. PUTT-TATO OPEN GOLF OUTING Bull’s Eye Country Club Wisconsin Rapids, WI HANCOCK AG RESEARCH STATION FIELD DAY Hancock, WI FARM TECHNOLOGY DAYS Silver Spring Foods, Huntsinger Horseradish Farm Eau Claire, WI WISCONSIN STATE FAIR West Allis, WI ANTIGO TATER TROT Antigo City Park Antigo, WI POTATO DAYS FESTIVAL Barnesville, MN


12 29-10/3

ALSUM TATER TROT 5K Alsum Farms & Produce Friesland, WI POTATO BOWL FESTIVAL Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, ND-MN


15-17 26-27

PMA FRESH SUMMIT Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, TX RESEARCH MEETING West Madison Ag Research Station Verona, WI


6-7 6

2021 POTATO EXPO Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center Grapevine, TX

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Planting Ideas An active community makes all the difference in the

world, not only in raising the next generation of bright, young future leaders, but also in setting and accomplishing goals. It takes a community to raise a child and community involvement to achieve higher standards of living and a better quality of life. It takes good people to improve their surroundings. I’d say it’s just Wisconsin where county agricultural awards banquets bring people together to celebrate achievements and common causes, but I don’t think that’s the case. I believe that ag communities across America and even worldwide are tight-knit groups who are dedicated to their local industries, businesses and neighborhoods. I’d say that only in Central Wisconsin do we honor FFA and 4-H members and local farmers alike, on the same night, in the same setting, but that’s not true, either. The annual National FFA Convention draws thousands of kids from across the country, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and chapters are active in small towns and large cities. Ag awards banquets countrywide include adults, volunteers and students in the community. Yet, there is something about Wisconsin and the Midwest. Maybe people are a little friendlier, perhaps they put their guards down more and like to volunteer and be involved than in other areas of the country or world. You hear it all the time, “You people in the Midwest are so friendly.” Maybe they mean overly friendly, but that’s OK, we’ll take the compliment. All I can say is that it was an impressive group of adults, students and professionals alike at the Portage County Business Council’s American Agriculture Appreciation Banquet, Monday, March 9, 2020. Even Sen. Patrick Testin (left in the picture above) and Rep. Katrina Shankland (right) showed up to support the outstanding FFA seniors who won awards, including, from left to right, Kailen Smerchek (Rosholt), Alex Brzezinski (Stevens Point) and Brady Patoka (Amherst.) Brady is the son of Joe and Jodi and grandson of WPVGA grower member Bill Patoka, Patoka Farms. WPVGA grower members Cliff and Carole Gagas, Gagas Farms of Stevens Point, were honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award at the banquet. See the full story in “Now News” in this issue. 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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RICH ANDERSON, general manager, Roberts Irrigation Company, Inc.

By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater

Roberts Irrigation was started, in 1957, by Harold “Hal” and NAME: Rich Anderson TITLE: General manager COMPANY: Roberts Irrigation Company, Inc. LOCATION: Plover/Bloomer, Wisconsin HOMETOWN: Rhinelander, Wisconsin TIME IN PRESENT POSITION: 2 years PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT: Controller for Rhinelander GM/Toyota—2 years; partner with Anderson Metz Ltd.—12 years; accounting manager for C.R. Meyer and Son—10 years; and accounting manager with Appleton Supply Company—2 years SCHOOLING: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, accounting degree, 1990, and passed the Certified Public Accountant exam in 1992 FAMILY: Married to wife, Shelley, in 1990, and two boys, Matt and Mike, both of whom graduated from college, have careers and are chasing their dreams HOBBIES: Fishing, hunting, golf, making maple syrup and cutting firewood 8

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Nancy Roberts in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Harold began selling equipment for Moulton Irrigation by pulling a trailer with the family car. “In 1959, at the urging of customers, they made the move to Stevens Point to be closer to the Central Sands,” explains Rich Anderson, general manager of Roberts Irrigation, “where the sandy soil and plentiful water made an ideal case for irrigation.” In 1968, Richard Reinke, founder of Reinke Manufacturing, traveled to Wisconsin, and Roberts Irrigation became an official distributor. Roberts Irrigation today is the oldest continuous Reinke dealer. “Also, in 1968, Roberts Irrigation purchased Wisconsin Pump Service, a well-drilling company,” Anderson relates. “It was at this time that Hal Roberts had the foresight to realize the benefit of having control over the total irrigation process, from well drilling to irrigation equipment distribution.” In 1979, Hal’s son, Paul, graduated from college and began to work full-

time at Roberts Irrigation. During the ensuing years, he continued his studies focusing primarily on well design. In 1986, Hal retired, and Paul took over the day-to-day responsibilities of running Roberts Irrigation. Under Paul’s leadership, a second location was opened in Bloomer, Wisconsin. “As of July 31, 2019, Roberts Irrigation has once again begun a new chapter,” Anderson reveals. “Paul made a decision to sell Roberts Irrigation to the employees.” “The resulting ESOP [Employee Stock Ownership Plan] ensures that Roberts Irrigation will continue to be of service to its customers for years to come,” he states. Above: When Rich Anderson was hired by Roberts Irrigation Company, Inc., owner Paul Roberts was looking for a general manager to allow him to step away from the daily operating duties.

What is your background, Rich, and how did you come to join Roberts Irrigation? Prior to coming to Roberts Irrigation, I worked 12 years in public accounting and 15 years in the private sector as an accounting manager and controller. At the time I was offered a job at Roberts Irrigation, Paul Roberts was looking for a general manager to allow him to step away from the daily operating duties. What does your position entail? As general manager, my time is generally split between working with the staff and concentrating on projects/ processes to improve our efficiency. Does Paul Roberts remain president of the company, and is he still involved in the day-to-day operations? Paul is still the president and on the Board of Directors for Roberts Irrigation. For the most part, he has stepped away from the day-today operation. He does stop in the office every week and is on the phone with employees almost every day providing guidance on different projects. Is he trusting you with some of his responsibilities? Explain. Yes, in addition to managing the staff at Roberts Irrigation, I make sure we have processes in place to allow us to be steady and consistent with how we handle the day-to-day activities. I believe in empowering people to make decisions. We accomplish this by involving our staff in the decisionmaking process, allowing us to make the best possible choices for the collective good of everyone. It helps Top Right: High-capacity well drilling is just one of many services Roberts Irrigation provides for customers. General Manager Rich Anderson says he thinks the company has done a fantastic job taking care of customers’ needs, but maybe not the best job at letting everyone know about the entire portfolio of services and products Roberts Irrigation provides.

to keep the lines of communication open throughout our organization. What is it about Roberts Irrigation that has prompted you to make it a career and what are you most proud of? The people I get to spend my days with here at Roberts Irrigation make all the difference. Everyone has a job, but how many are lucky enough to work with people they can have fun with throughout the day? Being happy is a choice, and I am

lucky enough to work with a group of people that choose to make the best of every day. What I am most proud of isn’t what we have accomplished yet, it’s knowing I am surrounded by a group of people that have the same dream for our success as I carry. Is center-pivot irrigation still the name of the game? How has it changed in the years that you’ve been with Roberts? We are always looking for ways to innovate and continued on pg. 10

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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 9

bring better solutions to the irrigation needs of Wisconsin. New for this year, Roberts Irrigation has become a CropMetrics dealer,

which will help growers determine soil moisture and aid in irrigation scheduling.

Above: The Roberts Irrigation excavator is being used to trench power into a turbine pump suspended on a float system at a gravel pit operation, in 2019.

Ranch Systems has also been added to our product line as an innovative irrigation automation company that offers products to control pumping units, valves, and monitor soil moisture.

Left: Fresh tire tracks are still in the ground after a center pivot is newly built by Roberts Irrigation.

Do Reinke center pivots make up your main product line, and if not, what other brands and equipment do you offer? Reinke is our pivot manufacturer and does make up a significant share of our irrigation product line. In addition, we sell products such as Cadman and Ag-Rain traveling guns; Netafim drip irrigation; John Deere, JCB and Kubota diesel engines; PSI propane/natural gas engines; as well as Western Land Roller, Cornell, Berkeley, Franklin, Grundfos, Doda, Lo-lift and Parma pumps. For irrigation automation, we work with Ranch Systems, Reinke and FieldWise. 10 BC�T April

What are the newest technologies, and how are they helping save water

and make life easier for growers? The uniform delivery of water to an entire parcel of property is oftentimes not the most efficient use of the water resource. We are currently working with suppliers to use soil moisture probes throughout fields to help determine if there are opportunities to save both water and electricity to meet the irrigation needs of a certain crop and soil type. By determining water holding capacity of different parts of a field, we can then determine if varying water application throughout the field would be more efficient. We are happy to offer multiple product lines that help growers remotely manage their irrigation equipment. The products we offer can be used to monitor soil moisture,

continued on pg. 12

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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 10

and remotely control center pivots, valves, engines and variable frequency drives. Tell me about service at Roberts Irrigation—servicing before, during and after the sale. Your success is our success. The best thing we can do is make sure our customers know we’re here for them no matter what their irrigation need may be.

We are a professional company. We have an obligation to treat each person with the respect they deserve and to solve their problem as efficiently and in as timely a manner as we possibly can. We are typically in the office by 6 a.m. and often there until 6 p.m. or later. In addition, many customers will call either our sales or field staff

direct if they have an issue arise. I see by your latest ads in the Badger Common’Tater that Roberts Irrigation offers such services as drilling and installing dualreverse high-capacity wells, well rehabilitation, well abandonment, installing pumps, filling and dewatering wells, running wire, pump repair, etc. Are these new services, or is there a renewed emphasis on these services? Explain. These services have always been offered at Roberts for many years. Hal Roberts had the vision of being a full-service irrigation solution for our customers many years ago. I think we have done a fantastic job taking care of our customers’ needs continued on pg. 14

Above: Water is put through a new Reinke Model EII 2060 pivot system for the first time, in 2018, at Ben Sankey’s Berry Patch, Plover, Wisconsin. Left: This is a typical plumbing hook-up used to operate multiple irrigation systems from a single well. The project took place, in 2018, on the Bob and Chris Barden farm just east of Plover, Wisconsin. 12 BC�T April

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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 12

as they arise, but maybe not the best job at letting everyone know the entire package of services and products we can provide. We want our customers to know we are more than just a Reinke pivot dealer. With one call, we can provide a true turnkey irrigation solution.

Why would an irrigation company delve into all those different areas? Being able to offer all different facets needed to solve an irrigation problem gives us an edge when it comes to helping solve our customers’ problems. Having this diversity of product

Above and Opposite Page: Roberts Irrigation offers services ranging from solar panel installation to pump setting, and sometimes on the same job site.

line under one roof allows us to use resources that may not be immediately available to someone without the diversity of products and

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services we provide. Are water conservation and irrigation efficiency the top, or two of the top, priorities today, and why or why not? Water conservation and efficiency will always be a priority in our world. Not only are we trying to use our water resources more efficiently, but we are also trying to save costs between utility bills and man hours. I believe this will be the focus on technological improvements in the years ahead. What are your/Roberts Irrigation’s priorities for the upcoming planting, growing and harvest seasons? Our priority in the coming year will be help educate customers on who we are and what we might be able to do for them to help solve their problems and ultimately save them time and money. Who are your customers, and have

most of them been with you for a long time? A significant number of our customers have been with us for many years. They are oftentimes not just customers, but our friends. Over the years, we have all endured hard times and successes, and

that is what brings us together. Our customers are geographically located in the Central Sands area, the northwest portion of the state and Antigo area, as well as a number in the southeast part of Wisconsin. continued on pg. 16


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Interview. . .

continued from pg. 15

A self-cleaning filter is used at Seaquist Orchards in Door County, 2019, to remove cherry pits and pulp from water before sending it to a drip irrigation system. The manifold allows for different water sources to be filtered and transferred to multiple watering locations.

Many of them grow specialty crops, potatoes, vegetables, sod, cranberries, etc. What are your hopes for Roberts Irrigation in the future? By initiating the ESOP, I can see Roberts Irrigation flourishing for many years to come. Our success will be a reflection

of our customers’ success. We know that without each, and every, customer doing well, we will not succeed either. We share a vested interest in the continued success of all potato and vegetable growers in the state of Wisconsin.

An LP power unit and generator are connected to a turbine pump at Wagner Farms in Adams County, 2019. The design is typically used in locations where threephase power is not available.

What are your goals? Our goals are to continue to innovate, to provide a better service to our customers, as well as to grow our company by letting people know who we are and how we may be able to help them be successful.

Three variable frequency drives and electric motors power independent turbine pumps at the Wisconsin Cranberry Research Education Foundation, in 2019. The system is fully automated, and if power fails, set up to switch to a diesel backup unit using an automatic combination gear drive. 16 BC�T April



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Women of Wisconsin Agriculture Part 1 of a 2-Part Series Concluding Next Issue

An impressive group is furthering potato and vegetable production in the state By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater The suggestion was made during a phone conversation one day that the Badger Common’Tater run a feature article on the spectacular women who fill important positions in the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growing industry. Researching the article was as simple as contacting a handful of qualified

members of the industry and asking each a dozen questions or so. Not surprising, considering the sources, the responses to the questions were so thorough and informative that the feature article needed to be broken into two parts. Three of the sources contacted are

featured herein, and the other two will be showcased in the second part of a two-part series, which will run in the May 2020 issue. Look for it next month! Their backgrounds, positions in the agriculture industry, responsibilities and accomplishments are remarkable and make for a fascinating read.


Superintendent/Program Manager, Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station With a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Master’s in weed science, Becky Eddy has held positions as a horticulture intern at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Extension-Waukesha County Office and as a field technician in the UW-Madison cucumber breeding program. “Then came an opportunity that changed my life,” she says. “Dr. Larry Binning offered me a graduate research assistantship in the UW-Madison Department of Horticulture.” “For the next few years, I worked at Hancock, Arlington and Coloma Farms conducting research on 18 BC�T April

Brassica species as short-season spring seeded cover crops to supplement weed management in potato,” she notes. Eddy also held a position as a research specialist in the FritoLay Agricultural Operations and Development Research Station, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. “My primary responsibility with FritoLay was to be part of the team that provided technical support for the agronomy and breeding research programs associated with the discovery and development of novel potato germ-plasm for the creation of proprietary chipping varieties,” she explains.

Becky Eddy, superintendent and program manager of the Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station, won a Fitbit Blaze at the 2018 Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association and WPVGA Chip Committee Seed Reception during Potato Expo in Orlando, Florida.

In 2015, Eddy resigned from FritoLay and took a position at the Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station as associate researcher,

serving as the on-site coordinator for the Wisconsin Potato Varietal Breeding Program led by Jeffery Endelman. In 2016, she moved into the house on the grounds, along with her husband, Sam, who is the one of the station’s equipment operators, and their daughter, Lucy. A certified agronomist and crop advisor, Eddy is currently the Rhinelander station superintendent and program manager for the UW Potato Breeding Program. FEMALE SUPERS “I have never really thought much about how gender relates to my current position, but I do believe I am the first female station superintendent at Rhinelander,” she says. “Both the West Madison and Marshfield stations also have female superintendents.” “I’m proud to carry on the 80-year history of the potato breeding

program as a part of the UW College of Agricultural and Life Sciences,” Eddy remarks, “a history that started with nationally accredited potato seed grower, Miss Lelah Starks.” In support of the state potato variety breeding program, Eddy says her mission is simple: to leave the Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station (RARS) better than when she started. “And that’s going to be an enormous challenge for me because the Rhinelander station had such a strong foundation to start with,” she explains. While continuing to develop one of the most respected potato breeding programs in the nation, Eddy has adopted the philosophy of sustainability, striving towards permanent stewardship advancement through the entire operation. continued on pg. 20

Becky Eddy does data collection at Paramount Farms, in 2007, while serving as a research specialist for Frito-Lay.



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Outstanding Women of Wisconsin Agriculture . . . continued from pg. 19

“It’s rewarding to work for an industry that really cares about producing a quality product while balancing the environmental, social and economic challenges that we’ll all continue to face as we move forward,” she says.

the nation’s strictest production standards to assure clean, diseasefree product while upholding a proactive approach to grow in the best and most responsible manner possible,” Eddy stresses.

“I’m delighted that this team of individuals utilizes the strong backing of the University of Wisconsin, and

“It’s also a phenomenal group of people to collaborate and be affiliated with,” she states.

BEST FROM EACH FIELD The UW Potato Breeding Program starts with 50,000–60,000 new clones each year, of which only the best from each field year generation move forward because they have a combination of sought-after traits. “I enjoy the challenge that every clone is unique and it’s my job to figure out how to successfully grow a crop in the greenhouses and the fields,” Eddy says. “My job is also to produce diseasefree seed stock of advanced lines to share with our cooperators throughout the United States and Canada, in the pursuit of finding the right variety for the right location,” she notes. This collaborative effort generates interest in, and provides valuable feedback on, advanced breeding lines and newly released varieties that can lead to commercialization. “I love a profession that takes me outdoors from April to November as well as the physical nature of working with small plot research,” Eddy says. “I also enjoy working alongside the faculty lead of the potato breeding program, Jeff Endelman, who is driven both professionally and academically.” “I do believe I’ve seen momentum to level the agricultural playing field with more females entering the profession,” she says. “I know many remarkable women who have dedicated their lives to potatoes both in the private and public sectors.” Despite budget constraints and challenges, Eddy vows to continue to move the breeding program forward, make valuable improvements to the Rhinelander station and deploy ways to become more efficient.

20 BC�T April


Past President and Current Board Member, WPVGA Associate Division Insurance Agent, Rural Mutual Insurance One of only a few women to have served as president, in 2017, of the Associate Division of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), Sally Suprise was reelected onto the Board of Directors for another term, in February 2020, and remains dedicated to the state’s agriculture industry. Obtaining her property and casualty insurance license in the early 1990’s, Suprise has worked in the industry in several capacities over the years and furthered her education with multiple certifications and additional licensing. In addition to property and casualty, she is also licensed in health and life insurance, and as a certified workers’

compensation advisor and agribusiness farm insurance specialist. An agent for Rural Mutual Insurance, since 2018, Suprise says her time spent serving on the WPVGA Associate Division Board has been most rewarding. “Representing and being a part of our Wisconsin growers and this great industry is well worth the time invested,” she says. “I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with the Spudmobile on various occasions to help children and adults learn what is involved in a ‘Field to Fork’ operation,” Suprise relates, “and hopefully appreciate all continued on pg. 22

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Sally Suprise checks an ear of corn on Gagas Farms, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

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Outstanding Women of Wisconsin Agriculture . . . continued from pg. 21

the hard work that goes into putting food on their tables.” BUYS LOCAL “Personally, when I shop, I am very selective in making sure I support our farmers and buy local,” she adds. Suprise participated in a potato bar put on by the Oshkosh School District, talking to children about the effort that goes into planting and harvesting vegetables and potatoes. She indicates taking pride in the money the Associate Division donates to research, as well as the scholarships given in support of youth who want to pursue careers in agriculture. Suprise looks forward to serving potatoes at the WPVGA booth during future WPS Farm Shows, in Oshkosh,

and working alongside other Associate Division board members at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station Field Day. “I have always had a passion to help others, and my role as an insurance advisor is to help protect what people have worked so hard to create,” she notes. “I enjoy being able to talk with different people, listen to their needs and get to know what they value most. It’s rewarding when customers place their trust and confidence in you and they can rest easier knowing their insurance needs are met and they are protected,” Suprise adds. “I am mostly honored and proud to be part of and represent the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growing industry. There are so many

WPVGA Associate Division board members Sally Suprise (left) and Kenton Mehlberg (right) serve corn during the 2017 Hancock Agricultural Research Station Field Day.

people and businesses that support the industry on different levels, and I have gained some wonderful longterm friendships,” she concludes.

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Associate Professor and the Integrated State Extension Specialist in Potato and Vegetable Pathology within the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Chair of the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology From age 9 to 19, Amanda Gevens worked on a small, varied vegetable farm on the eastern end of Long Island. “I thoroughly enjoyed the integrated nature of the experience, which included substantial time outdoors planting, harvesting and interacting with people in the marketplace,” she says. Through her college years, Gevens spent summers working with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension as an integrated pest management (IPM) scout, and supported research and extension projects in potato late blight among other pest and disease conditions. She earned a Master of Science degree in plant pathology from Purdue University, then a Ph.D. in the same field of study from Michigan State University, with strong grower, industry and Extension engagements. “From those years in Extension, I learned that the best job in the world for me was one in which I could study vegetable diseases [indoors and out], engage with growers to help manage a crop to optimum productivity, and teach and advocate for a next generation of applied plant pathologists,” Gevens relates.

Amanda Gevens visited the Spudmobile with her current and former (graduated!) students, at the time in 2016, during the Hancock Agricultural Research Station Centennial Celebration. In the back row are, from left to right, Dr. Shunping Ding, Haley Higgins, Dr. Gevens, Dr. Katie Gold, Kiana Meinholz and John Hammel. In the front row, from left to right, are Dr. Michelle Marks and Sofia Macchiavelli Giron.

“I am grateful to have had valuable mentors, colleagues, friends and family along the way that enabled my growth to this point in my career,” she says. Currently, Dr. Gevens serves as an associate professor and the Integrated State Extension Specialist

in potato and vegetable pathology within the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Since July of 2019, she has also been serving as the chair of the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology. continued on pg. 24



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Outstanding Women of Wisconsin Agriculture . . . continued from pg. 23

COMMODITY ADVISORY BOARDS Dr. Gevens serves on several commodity advisory boards, including those for the Wisconsin Healthy Grown program, the WPVGA Grower Education Planning Committee, the Wisconsin Muck Farmers Association Research and Planning Committee, the Wisconsin Mint Industry Research Board Planning Committee, and the Wisconsin Fresh Market Vegetable Growers Association Meeting Planning Committee. As for serving as the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology, Gevens says, “My integrated Extension specialist experience provides me with appropriate skills in supporting people and having access to financial and infrastructural resources.” “While my career place is busier than ever,” she adds, “the work is tremendously rewarding, and I greatly enjoy seeing the successes of my department, from undergraduate achievement through professor career achievement recognitions.” “Plant pathology has given me so much and it is an honor to be able to give back in this way,” Dr. Gevens says. 24 BC�T April

“To me,” she states, “potatoes are much more than tubers with nutritional value. The system of production, storage, marketing and processing of this vegetative, propagated crop engages some of the brightest and best people to sustain the innovation of agriculture.” “In a time like none other in history,” Gevens notes, “consumers are most critical of, and yet arguably have the least connection to, food production.” STRONG, ENGAGED GROUP “It is important for all of us who work with agriculture to be both informative and informed. The potato industry of Wisconsin, and across the nation, is a strong and engaged group,” she reminds. “I enjoy my interactions,” Gevens says, “and am proud to represent our potato industry in various academic and professional venues.” The potato and vegetable growing industry is highly invested in the UW research team, enabling relevant and impactful work to be envisioned, funded, conducted and realized. Dr. Gevens says her overarching career goal is general: to be productive, effective and engaged, while achieving a sense of reward.

Above: Dr. Amanda Gevens shares updates on late blight in tomatoes and commercial potatoes, as well as fungicides that could limit or curb the spread of the disease, at the 2017 Rhinelander Field Day.

She also enjoys the variety her position provides. “I can start the week in the field evaluating disease trials or engaging with growers and end the week in a formal administrative business meeting on campus,” she says. “Particularly, my time in the field and with growers and students recharges my career battery.” “My greatest pride comes not from an individual project accomplishment, but rather from the regard and inclusion that I have received from the potato growing industry,” Gevens remarks. She concludes, “I greatly appreciate and find reward in being engaged and asked to contribute to matters that affect the current and future path of the industry.” Be sure to look for Part 2 of this Outstanding Women of Wisconsin Agriculture feature in the upcoming May 2020 issue of the Badger Common’Tater.


Scholarships Now Available

The WPVGA Associate Division and Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary are pleased to inform you of scholarships totaling $6,000, available to students at post-secondary institutions. The Associate Division and Auxiliary Boards of Directors will award the full $6,000 but may decide to award several smaller scholarships based on the number of applicants and their merits. The purpose of these annual scholarships is to provide financial assistance to students whose immediate families are members of the WPVGA. There is also a special additional scholarship that will be awarded to the top candidate among all applicants. The Avis M. Wysocki Memorial Scholarship was established in 2016 to honor Avis, who was a founding member of the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary and an integral part of the Wisconsin potato industry. Through a fundraiser held by the Associate Division earlier this year, this year’s winner of the Avis M. Wysocki Memorial Scholarship will receive $2,510 in scholarship funds.


MAY 1, 2020

Applications can be obtained online at www.wisconsinpotatoes.com or by calling the WPVGA office at

(715) 623-7683

If you have any questions, please call Julie Braun at the WPVGA office.

PLEASE RETURN COMPLETED FORMS TO: Julie Braun WPVGA PO Box 327 Antigo, WI 54409-0327 or, Email Completed Form to: jbraun@wisconsinpotatoes.com

The scholarships detailed above can be used to defray educational expenses and are open to students in undergraduate and post-graduate programs. Applicants must be residents of Wisconsin and are eligible to reapply in subsequent years regardless if they have been previously awarded a scholarship. The selection of scholarship winners will be based on the following criteria: • Applicant or applicant’s immediate family must be, or be employed by, a WPVGA grower or Associate Division member. • Merit – e.g. G.P.A., extra-curricular activities, etc. • Other information provided in the application • The applicant must attend an accredited school of higher education (includes technical college) as a full-time graduate or undergraduate student. • The applicant must meet the entry requirements of the selected accredited school of higher education (grade point average, etc.). Some of the information requested in the application may be considered personal or confidential. You may choose not to provide such information; however, the selection committee making decisions requests information on your financial status since Associate Division and Auxiliary scholarships may be partially based on financial need. You are encouraged to complete the scholarship application form in a professional manner. Applications must be properly completed and typed. Hand-written applications will not be considered. Remember, the application will be the only representation of you that the selection committee has a chance to see. Applications can be obtained online at www.wisconsinpotatoes.com or by calling the WPVGA office at 715-623-7683. If you have any questions, please call the WPVGA office and ask for Julie.

BC�T April 25

Healthy Grown Turns 20! Long-standing, award winning program continues to advance agricultural sustainability By Deana Knuteson, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture and Nutrient and Pest Management Program Can you believe it? Where has the time gone? The Healthy GrownÂŽ program and brand of potatoes are celebrating two decades this year, with 2020 marking the 20th consecutive year of certified, sustainably grown potatoes in Wisconsin. What started as growers collaborating with the University of Wisconsin (UW) and environmental groups to develop an innovative, high-standard potato and vegetable production system has turned into a long-standing, award-winning program that continues to advance agricultural sustainability. Healthy Grown started in its infancy as an idea, a belief that different groups could sit down at a table and

work toward common goals. The basic tenants began in 1996, when a unique memorandum of understanding was written between the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to start what was then called the WWF/WPVGA/ UW Collaboration. The UW-Madison team was fully engaged from the start in research, education and outreach. At that time, environmental-oriented organizations and growers or agricultural associations were not known to work well together (or even want to speak to each other). This initial Healthy Grown memorandum of understanding

Four Healthy Grown quarter-size bins for grocery stores sit on a pallet ready for shipping.

helped pave the way to promote common goals and develop sustainable, ecological productionbased systems for large-scale agriculture. EARLY CHILDHOOD YEARS As the program advanced though its early childhood years, the overall framework and documentation were developed.

The Healthy Grown program gives potato and vegetable farmers the ability to promote agricultural best practices and position themselves to capture an expanding consumer demand for sustainable options in the marketplace. 26 BC�T April

To ensure that advances would take place, and changes could be made in production practices, metrics were developed to track changes while ensuring economic returns to growers. Measurements of risk were developed, and individuals started working to document and determine

what practices and risk levels they had on their farm, and then how to change and advance while still producing a quality, economically solvent crop. Healthy Grown started maturing during the pre-teen years, and in 2000, we formally developed a high-bar standard using the

Left: Ecologist Jeb Barzen takes a close look at heath aster, a flowering perennial plant native to Wisconsin and much of North America. Right: A controlled burn is conducted on Plover River Farms to promote ecosystem health by reducing flammable fuels and invasive species and reviving native plant life. continued on pg. 28

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Healthy Grown Turns 20! . . . continued from pg. 27

metrics and documentation that had been developed based on previous work. We expanded the program to include ecological restoration activities on growers’ privately owned lands and started working on restorations such as prairie plantings and wetland management. Growers and the WPVGA staff were ready to go to the next level in developing a brand and selling the new product, something that was grown for large-scale agriculture that was not conventional and not organic, but economically viable and environmentally sound to enhance on-farm stewardship. We hired a non-profit organization (Protected Harvest) to independently certify participating growers to show value and proof of a high-bar production system, and we were sure that value would resonate with consumers. Since there was value for certified products, we added carrot and onion standards to the options so those could be sold as Healthy Grown produce, too! THE GREEN STATE In 2000, the word “sustainable” was not commonly used, but Wisconsin became known nationally as that “green” potato and vegetable state, with environmental standards being considered “green” in the early 2000’s. Our advances were so unique and innovative that we won many awards for our efforts, including a U.S. Department of Agriculture “Secretary’s Honor Award for Enhancing Natural Resources and the Environment,” and the International Crane Foundation “Good Egg Award.” Healthy Grown also landed a World Wildlife Fund “Gift to the Earth” award. At this point, we felt like we had developed the best product in the world, and it would just fly off 28 BC�T April

the shelves, but … Our teenage years followed, and we found that even if you spend time on developing a brand, a fancy bag, marketing materials, and have great ideas on how to sell a message, marketing is hard! We were not successful initially in getting our Healthy Grown certified product into markets, which had different ideas, wanting less options in stores and only wanting national and private brands. The markets didn’t see the value or need for new brands, especially one that was limited in supply. YOUNG ADULTHOOD So, we matured to young adulthood and Healthy Grown realized we needed to make some changes and reinvigorate the program. To help get bags into designated outlets, we redesigned our marketing, letting growers use Healthy Grown as it best fit them and for their own farm/sales purposes. If that meant using signage in stores or Kwik Loks on bags, or just making use of the message for websites to

Above: The Healthy Grown program includes an ecological restoration component that encompasses prairie plantings and wetland management practices on growers’ privately owned land.

help promote a way of production, that was great, and it gave growers and shippers the flexibility to use the program that fit them best. In 2014, we also changed our way of using the standards, as Healthy Grown was updated to encourage more education between the growers and UW-Madison specialists. We created a format that incorporated multiple approaches to manage pesticide risk across whole farms and over successive seasons, based on interactions with pest management specialists, and allowed growers more flexibility in management and risk assessment choices. Furthermore, to help simplify paperwork and reporting requirements, we moved ownership of the program away from Protected Harvest to local certifiers, and had the needed Healthy Grown paperwork created and distributed

from the WPVGA office.

the marketplace.

on quality/quantity options.

As time passed and we grew, sales increased, especially in nearby markets as the local food movement became more popular.

But our work is not done. As we continue to grow, we will keep changing with the times. We will strive to be relevant and up to date on key industry issues and create new protocols and modules while always working with growers to ensure our high-bar status.

That is the beauty of the program as it ages—we will keep innovating and improving, not slowing down a bit! We’re looking forward to the next 20 years to see where the program goes!

VALUE IN HEALTHY GROWN The whole industry found value in Healthy Grown and saw increased awareness of Wisconsin potatoes and on-farm stewardship based on the WPVGA’s promotional efforts, including use of the messaging in the Spudmobile.

Just this year, we are piloting a water conservation module that will focus

For more details or specifics on standards, please contact Deana Knuteson, dknuteson@wisc.edu, or call 608-347-8236.

Some growers and shippers started to receive small premiums or sales boosts based on the Healthy Grown products, and all began to value the other intrinsic benefits and enhanced public relations that the program returned to their farms or sales operations. And, now, here we are 20 years later as a fully mature, long-standing, ecologically sound, environmentally valuable and economically sustainable, high-bar program. Why has Healthy Grown been around and thriving for 20+ years? Because it benefits our growers and the entire industry by increasing public recognition. The Healthy Grown program ensures new practice adoption, leading to long-term risk avoidance, providing dedicated educational approaches and relationships with UW-Madison faculty, and improving documentation needs and help for supply chain requirements. ETHICAL SUSTAINABILITY The program gives growers the ability to promote direct farm and area benefits such as ethical sustainability and encourages better market perception of Wisconsin as an ecologically sound producer. Happy 20 years, Healthy Grown! You are helping Wisconsin producers promote agricultural best practices while putting growers in a position to capture the expanding consumer demand for sustainable options in

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BC�T April 29

Now News New Organization Dedicated to Sustainability Potato Sustainability Alliance commits to collaboration across value chain Key players in the U.S. and Canadian potato industries announced, at 2020 Potato Expo, the creation of a new organization dedicated to sustainability in the potato sector,

the Potato Sustainability Alliance. “Ten years ago, a group of potato processors, farmers, distributors and a major restaurant chain collaborated

to create the Potato Sustainability Initiative,” says Ed Schneider of Schneider Farms. As consumer demand grows for more sustainability from food systems to feed the world in a safe and responsible manner, there is a growing need for the industry to engage with a more diverse set of players to advance and communicate potato sustainability. “The newly incorporated Potato Sustainability Alliance builds on the Potato Sustainability Initiative with the addition of fresh packers, agribusinesses and environmentally focused organizations,” explains Laura Scandurra, executive director of the Alliance. “It was clear that we needed to evolve into a roundtable format,” Scandurra says, “and expand our membership to advance a common vision of potato sustainability and deliver outcomes at scale.”

30 BC�T April

The new Potato Sustainability Alliance is a platform for farmers, supply chain partners, industry organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and advisors to work together to define, measure and advance potato sustainability in the United States and Canada.

Gleddie of The Little Potato Company as treasurer and Ed Schneider of Schneider Farms as secretary.

POTATO PRODUCTION Members of the Alliance, together with over 550 U.S. and Canadian farmers, are committed to identifying and acting on viable opportunities throughout the supply chain for ongoing improvement in sustainable potato production.

“The Potato Sustainability Alliance is well positioned to play a leadership role in advancing sustainability,” MacQuarrie adds, “and we are excited about the prospect for enhanced engagement and collaboration across the value chain.”

The Potato Sustainability Alliance announced the election of new officers for the organization’s Board of Directors. The Board selected John MacQuarrie of Cavendish Farms as chair, Jolyn Rasmussen of the J.R. Simplot Company as vice chair, Sanford

“It is an honor to be elected as the chair to lead the Alliance’s Board of Directors,” says MacQuarrie, director of environmental sustainability with Cavendish Farms.

The Board of Directors of the Potato Sustainability Alliance is currently composed of representatives from the following membership sectors: growers, processors, fresh packers, buyers and agribusiness companies. The Alliance will be inviting board representation from environmental NGO’s (Non-Governmental

Organizations) later this year. Officers are elected to two-year terms and will play a leading role in developing the organization’s 2020-2025 strategic plan. ABOUT POTATO SUSTAINABILITY ALLIANCE The Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA) is made up of a diverse group of grower organizations, processors, fresh packers, food service companies, buyers, agribusiness companies, non-governmental organizations, universities and other partners committed to defining, measuring and advancing potato sustainability in the United States and Canada. If your interests align with those of PSA, we would like you to join us. Contact Laura Scandurra at laura@potatosustainability.org. continued on pg. 32


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Gagases Win Outstanding Contribution to Ag Award Potato growers Cliff and Carole Gagas honored at Ag Appreciation Banquet Grower and family members of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association made up a few of the recipients of awards presented by the Portage County Business Council during the annual American Agriculture Appreciation Banquet, March 9, 2020.


Cliff and Carole Gagas of Gagas Farms, Inc., in Stevens Point, garnered the Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award for their commitment to Wisconsin potato and vegetable growing and volunteer work in the industry. The entire Gagas family made it out to the awards ceremony at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention


Fastline Wisconsin Farm, Edition 10 2019 - Fastline Online Editions

Wisconsin Sen. Patrick Testin (left) and state Rep. Katrina Shankland (right) were on hand to congratulate Cliff and Carole Gagas (center) for winning the Portage County Business Council’s “Outstanding Contribution to Agricultural Award,” Monday, March 9, 2020.

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Center, Stevens Point, where presentations were made to students and community leaders in these categories: • 4-H Leadership in Agriculture Award—Candace Lein, Almond • Outstanding FFA Seniors—Brady Patoka, Amherst; Kailen Smerchek, Rosholt; and Alex Brzezinski, Stevens Point • Agri-Business Scholarships sponsored by Del Monte Foods and the Farming for the Future Foundation—Alex Brzezinski and Jacqueline Wisinski • 4-H Agriculture Leaders of the Year—Barb Kasprowicz and Ted Lein • Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award—Cliff and Carole Gagas Bill Patoka says his grandson, Brady, son of Joe and Jodi Patoka, is a bright young man who works hard on Potato Farms and puts a lot of effort into being a leader in FFA. Candise Miller, executive director of the Farming for the Future Foundation, was the awards banquet keynote speaker, giving a presentation “Exploring the Uncommon Ground.”

Brady Patoka (left), son of Joe and Jodi Patoka, and grandson of Bill Patoka, Patoka Farms, Amherst, Wisconsin, won an Outstanding FFA Senior Award at the Portage County Business Council American Agriculture Appreciation Banquet. Bill says Brady is a bright young man who works hard on Patoka Farms and puts a lot of effort into being an FFA leader. Portage County Ag Agent Ken Schroeder (right) presented the award on Monday evening, March 9.

their food and understand the variety of careers available in agriculture. The foundation’s longer-term plans include building a state-of-the-art discovery center. For more on the foundation, see the feature article in the March 2020 issue of the

Badger Common’Tater. Many members of the local community came out to show their support of agri-business in Portage County during the American Agriculture Appreciation Banquet. continued on pg. 34

A Wisconsin-based non-profit, the Farming for the Future Foundation promises to deliver a unique blend of in-classroom content and hands-on experiences inspiring students and families to appreciate the origins of their food. “Ultimately, we want to help deepen the relationship between farmers and consumers,” says Richard Pavelski, Farming for the Future Foundation’s founder and director. The organization’s first initiative is to create more ag-related educational opportunities in schools by developing content that helps students connect more closely with BC�T April 33

Now News . . . continued from pg. 33

AbbyBank Unveils New Charitable Foundation Name Legacy and tradition of sustainable donations to local communities continues

The Abbotsford Story, Inc., that has served the surrounding communities with its charitable giving since 1986, has a new name: AbbyBank Foundation, Inc. While the bank’s original location is in Abbotsford, the story has changed. The bank now has seven locations in Central Wisconsin and not everyone realizes that the Abbotsford Story, Inc. is connected to AbbyBank.

The name change will help the foundation’s outreach to support all communities with sustainable donations. “We are excited to launch the AbbyBank Foundation, Inc. name that will carry on the legacy and tradition of giving back to our local communities,” states Jennifer Jakel, executive vice president and CRA (Community Reinvestment Act)

officer for AbbyBank. The Foundation remains an independent entity. Since 1986, AbbyBank has made contributions totaling over $1,366,300 to the foundation. Over the years, the foundation has made donations to Abbotsford, Appleton, Medford, Shawano, Wausau, Weston and neighboring area organizations totaling over $1,002,375.65.

Big Iron Equipment Now Handles LS Tractor Line Dealership also offering mower decks and snowblower attachments Big Iron Equipment of Plover, Wisconsin, is now carrying a line of LS Tractors, equipment and accessories. LS Tractor models in stock include the XR3140, XJ2025, MT225E and MT125, and Big Iron Equipment is also handling some of the company’s mower decks and snowblower attachments. Compact, sub-compact and utility tractors range from 22HP (horsepower) to 101HP. 34 BC�T April

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Potatoes USA News

Cookbook to Showcase Potato Flavor Combinations from Around the World While American urban eateries have a focus on globally inspired flavors, many potato-export markets around the globe look to the United States as a culinary hub for inspiration.

Mexico, Germany, Italy, India and the United States.

Potatoes USA Chef R.J. Harvey created 13 exciting potato-centric recipes as inspiration for chefs in the Thai market to utilize U.S. frozen and dehydrated potato products.

The dishes highlight the universality of potatoes, including Aloo Tikki, a potato patty from southern India; Kartoffel Klosse, a German potato dumpling stuffed with brown butter and toasted bread; and even a favorite in the American Midwest, cheesy hash brown casserole.

The countries that inspired the dishes featured in a new cookbook include Spain, Morocco, France, Greece, Thailand, China, Japan, South Korea,

The labor-saving techniques demonstrated in the recipes, such as the Italian gnocchi with pecorino cheese and truffle, teach chefs that

Above: Two of the potato-centric dishes that Chef R.J. Harvey created, to inspire the Thai market to utilize U.S. frozen and dehydrated products, are a German Kartoffel Klosse (breadstuffed dumplings) with brown butter and chives (left) and an American cheesy hash brown casserole (right).

processed U.S. potato products, such as dehydrated potatoes, can reduce the cost to their bottom line. Dishes such as the Chinese XOstyle loaded fries give foodservice operators motivation to take cultural flavors and use them with American frozen potato products. The cookbook is set to launch this spring and will be available on www. potatogoodness.com/professionals/ foodservice.

A new cookbook features potato flavor combinations from around the world, including, from left to right, Chinese XO-Style Loaded Wedge Cut Fries, Indian Aloo Tikki (curry-scented potato dumplings with a mint and dill yogurt sauce) and Italian Potato Gnocchi with White Truffle and Pecorino Romano Cheese. BC�T April 35

New Products BinFront Barriers Are Ideal for Bulk Storage Wisconsin farmer’s need to retain potatoes led to development of a better barrier With efficiency in mind, there are no gaps between BinFront sections when placed together to form a barrier, whether straight across or at various angles. BinFronts can be placed in tight circumferences for corners or circles, eliminating the burden of ordering corner pieces, which are often more costly because of lower order quantities. With BinFront Barriers placed

together at 45-degree angles to each other, they can form a circle as small as 128 inches in diameter. One of the objectives of the BinFront was to make it easier to ship and store. Nesting capabilities and interlocking features allow for ease of stacking and storage, and as many as 208 barriers can be shipped in a 53foot truckload. The barriers are ideal for bulk storage of potatoes, onions and more,

BinFront Barriers feature interlocking designs for stacking, vertical edges that prevent gaps when placed together at various angles, vertical ribs to prevent trapping of dirt and increase wall strength, and angled barrier ends to allow for 90-degree turns using three barriers. 36 BC�T April

Above: Developed by Schroeder Brothers Farms of Antigo, Wisconsin, each BinFront barrier weighs only 60 pounds, is food-grade safe and easily cleaned and disinfected.

offering maximum containment of produce for easier management during harvest. For more information, contact BinFront c/o Schroeder Brothers Farms, N1435 County Rd. D, Antigo, WI 54409, 715-623-2689, or email Pete Schroeder at farm@sbfi.biz. Visit https://binfront.biz/ for more images and information.

Illustrated are the old way that Schroeder Brothers Farms retained potatoes (left) and the new method using BinFront Barriers (right).

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By Dana Rady, WPVGA Director of Promotions and Consumer Education

Banquet Celebrates Hard Work and Achievement Article contributions by Doug Foemmel, Spudmobile education and outreach administrator As the snow melts and we look ahead to the spring season and what summer 2020 will bring, one group celebrated the end of their 2019 season with a banquet. The Brooks & Thiel Motorsports Race Team enjoyed an evening of gratitude and camaraderie at the Golden Sands Speedway Banquet, February 8, where team members also recognized the hard work that went into competing at the Golden Sands track for the 2019 season. And what a season it was! A participating sponsor, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) was invited 38 BC�T April

to the banquet held at Shooters Supper Club in Plover. WPVGA’s Doug Foemmel attended and shared some of the evening’s highlights. Wyatt Brooks, driver of car #25, received the Golden Sands Track Champion 2019 Super Late Model Trophy. He was the winner of the 2019 Harvest Race at Golden Sands and came in seventh overall in the Tundra Late Model Series that was Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes. 10 “TOP FIVE" FINISHES In all, Brooks ran 17 races across Wisconsin, winning once and placing 10 times in the Top 5. Jordan Thiel drove car #2 and placed

second for the Golden Sands Track Champion points race. He ended up fourth overall in the Tundra Super Late Model Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes and received 5th Place in the 2019 Wisconsin Challenge Series. Thiel ran in 14 races with eight placing in the top 5 and one win. Overall, the Brooks & Thiel Motorsports Team raised over $10,000 Above: Sponsored by the WPVGA, the Brooks & Thiel Motorsports Team celebrates another successful year of hard work and achievement during the Golden Sands Speedway Banquet. Pictured from left to right are Tammy Brooks, Mike Brooks, Mallory Thiel, Jordan Thiel, Wyatt Brooks, Chris Adams and Sarah Smith.

towards “Racing for Brian Ortner.” Ortner is an electrical lineman who was injured by a falling tree during cleanup following storms last summer. The Brooks & Thiel Motorsports team has appeared with the Spudmobile at various events, and all associated racecars sport large “Powered by


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Wisconsin Potatoes” logos. “When you hear the roar as an engine comes to life,” Foemmel says, “the crowd comes running, and the most frequently asked question is, ‘Does it really run on potatoes?’” continued on pg. 40

Left: Jordan Thiel and Wyatt Brooks are all smiles while holding their trophies presented during the Golden Sands Speedway Banquet, February 8, at Shooters Supper Club in Plover. Right: WPVGA’s Spudmobile Education and Outreach Administrator Doug Foemmel (right) takes advantage of a photo opportunity with Wyatt Brooks at the Golden Sands Speedway Banquet.

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Marketplace . . . continued from pg. 39

United Potato Growers Coop Recognizes Members Getting a fair return for growers on their investment is the main goal and focus of the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin, as well as that of the United Potato Growers of America, the national organization and hub that ties all local cooperatives together.

The morning portion of the meeting included valuable presentations and information shared by United Potato Growers of America President and CEO Mark Klompien regarding fresh market trends, as well as that of the processing sector for Wisconsin and the nation.

On February 21, the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin held its annual meeting at Shooters Bar and Grill in Plover.

Additionally, Russ Groves of the University of Wisconsin-Madison provided valuable information regarding the Cropscape method of acreage counting for potatoes in Wisconsin and compared results to numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In the afternoon, the members-only business meeting commenced, at which time the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors was recognized.

United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin Director Dana Rady (left) recognizes Dick Okray of Okray Family Farms on behalf of the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin at the organization’s annual meeting.

Doug Posthuma of Alsum Farms and Produce joined the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin Board of Directors. 40 BC�T April

Two of the six board members went off the board as a result of their terms expiring. They are Andy Diercks of Coloma Farms, in Coloma, and Jim Okray of Okray Family Farms, Plover.

Mark Finnessy (left) of Okray Family Farms accepts a plaque from WPVGA Director of Promotions & Consumer Education Dana Rady (right) on behalf of Jim Okray, who completed his second three-year term on the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin Board of Directors. Finnessy is replacing Okray on the local cooperative’s Board of Directors.

Dick Okray of Okray Family Farms, in Plover, also completed his twoyear term as chairman of the United Potato Growers of America Board of Directors. All three individuals were recognized for their contributions to the organization and time serving on the Board. Additionally, Brian Bushman of J&J Potatoes, in Galloway, officially assumed the role of chairman of the United Potato Growers of America Board of Directors. Bushman also serves as chairman of the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin Board of Directors.

Pictured with WPVGA Director of Promotions & Consumer Education Dana Rady (left), Andy Diercks of Coloma Farms (right) receives a plaque for his service on the United Potato Growers Cooperative of Wisconsin Board of Directors.

Alongside Bushman, United of Wisconsin’s other board members are Steve Worzella of Worzella and Sons, in Plover; Lucas Wysocki of Wysocki Family of Companies, Bancroft; J.D. Schroeder of Schroeder Bros. Farms, in Antigo; and the Board’s two newest members, Mark Finnessy of Okray Family Farms and Doug Posthuma of Alsum Farms and Produce, Friesland.

How Evapotranspiration is Calculated Here’s how the agricultural data services measure ET By John Panuska, natural resources extension specialist, Biological System Engineering Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension If you are a grower, you may have used evapotranspiration (ET) data for irrigation water management. Evapotranspiration is the amount of water, in inches per day, that a plant removes from the root zone and releases into the atmosphere through its leaves. The ET process is important for plant metabolism, as it brings up nutrients from the soil and cools the plant. One commonly used root zone water management approach is irrigation scheduling. Irrigation scheduling essentially tracks the root zone soil moisture daily.

Root zone water inputs include irrigation and rainfall, while outputs are deep drainage (drainage out the bottom of the root zone) and ET. This is often thought of like a checkbook and is referred to as the “Checkbook Method,” which includes deposits, withdrawals and the balance (water remaining in the root zone) (Figure 1). By reducing deep drainage, nutrients and pesticides will stay in the root zone and be of greatest benefit to the crop. ET DATA SERVICE The current ET data service was

developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Soil Science, in the 1970’s and ’80s, and built, in part, using data from the Hancock Agricultural Research Station (HARS). continued on pg. 42

Above: Jonathan Thom (left), University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center, and Ammara Talib (right), UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, maintain a potato flux tower in July 2018. The flux tower, used to measure potato evapotranspiration, is in a field within the Central Sands growing region of Wisconsin. BC�T April 41

How Evapotranspiration is Calculated . . . continued from pg. 41

The ET for the previous day is calculated at the start of each new day and is typically completed at or prior to 7 a.m. There are several pieces of information that go into the ET calculation, which include mean daily air temperature, vapor pressure and solar radiation. In order to provide improved spatial accuracy, all input data, as well as the ET values, are calculated at specific points on an approximately 12-mile square grid covering the entire state of Wisconsin. The air temperature and vapor pressure data are provided by the National Weather Service (NWS) and are collected by 69 ground monitoring stations across Wisconsin, located primarily at airports. These data are interpolated onto a grid by the NWS and read into the agricultural weather system as gridded data. It is important to note that the ground weather stations located at HARS and the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, and operated by the Michigan State University Enviroweather Network, are not part of this system. The net solar radiation data are

Figure 1: Root soil water balance is represented using the Checkbook Method.

provided in a gridded format by the UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center. The net solar radiation data are a product of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) used for weather forecasting. GOES SATELLITE The GOES Satellite is geostationary, meaning that it stays in a fixed position in the sky relative to the earth and measures solar radiation reflected from the clouds and

the ground. The input data are subsequentially used by the Priestly-Taylor equation to calculate ET at each grid point across the state. The Priestly-Taylor equation is an empirical equation developed for use in humid climates such as Wisconsin’s. In fact, one of the terms in the equation was developed using data from HARS. In addition to providing ET data, the Agricultural Weather Data Service also gives degree day information. There are several ways to access ET data from the Ag. Weather Data Service website (agweather.cals.wisc. edu), (Figure 2). The ET email tool is a self-service web-based application that emails the previous day’s ET for a given location, specified in latitude and longitude, during the growing season. The service is accessed via the UW Figure 2: There are several ways to access ET data on the UW Extension Ag Weather Data Service website (agweather.cals.wisc.edu). Shown is a screen grab from the home page.

42 BC�T April

Division of Extension Ag. Weather site under the Sun/Water tab, then by clicking “Evapotranspiration Model— Wisconsin” using the link located just above the Estimated ET map, (Fig.3). The user can enter up to 15 locations. ACCESSING ET DATA A second way to access ET data is directly from the top portion of the ET map page described above. The location and date range can be entered, and the data viewed in a browser or downloaded to a Comma Separated Variable (CSV) file format, (Figure 3). A third way is via use of the Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program (WISP). During WISP setup, the user enters the latitude and longitude of the pivot, and WISP will automatically import the previous day’s ET. A fourth way to access ET data is via an Automated Programing

Interface (API). A specifically formatted call is set up within a software application that includes latitude, longitude and date range, pulling data directly from the Ag. Weather database over the internet. Evapotranspiration data are available from March 2016 to present. The ET data service is free and publicly available. The service is designed to provide Wisconsin growers with timely

Figure 3: The ET email tool is a self-service web-based application that emails the previous day’s ET for a given location. The service is accessed via the UWDivision of Extension Ag. Weather site under the Sun/Water tab, then by clicking “Evapotranspiration Model—Wisconsin” using the link located just above the Estimated ET map.

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NPC News

Potato Growers Attend 2020 D.C. Fly-In Advocacy event draws 135 industry members to stand up for potatoes

Potato growers and allied industry partners from across the United States flew into our nation’s capital, February 24-27, to take part in the National Potato Council’s 2020 D.C. Fly-In, an annual advocacy event where around 135 industry members joined together to stand up for potatoes on Capitol Hill. Kicking off the first full day on Tuesday, attendees were joined by Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. trade representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, for a breakfast session focused on the administration’s efforts to promote trade and U.S. agricultural exports. Later that morning, Pam Miller, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services, joined Beth Johnson, principal and CEO of Food Directions, Inc., for a conversation on the importance of the federal nutrition programs and the role of potatoes within them. A panel on legislative efforts to address the ag labor crisis followed with Charlie Garrison, president of the Garrison Group, Diane Kurrle, senior vice president of the U.S. Apple Association, and Mary Nowak, director of government affairs of the National

One hundred and thirty-five potato growers and allied industry partners from across the United States flew into our nation’s capital, February 24-27, to take part in the 2020 D.C. Fly-In.

Council of Farmer Cooperatives and Ag Workforce Coalition. A keynote lunch, sponsored by Syngenta, featured an address by famed political forecaster Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report and columnist for the National Journal, who provided the group an overview of the current

political climate. Attendees then moved to the Senate Hart Building to hear directly from members of Congress, including Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho); Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-Penn.); Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.); Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.); and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.).

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Pictured in the office of Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are, from left to right, Tamas Houlihan, Congressman Gallagher, Jim Wysocki and Michael Wolter.

Wrapping up the day at the annual Standing Up For Potatoes Congressional Reception, attendees were joined by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), and Chair of the House Ag Committee Collin Peterson (D-Minn). During the following two days,

attendees met with dozens of congressional and administration officials and staff to advocate for the industry’s policy priorities. The complete Fly-In photo album can be found on NPC’s Facebook page, https://www. facebook.com/pg/nationalpotatocouncil/ photos/?tab=album&album_id=1866244640 167141.

continued on pg. 46

Several Wisconsin potato growers and industry professionals traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with state delegates. Pictured on the Capitol steps are, front row, left to right, Michael Wolter, Eric Schroeder and Tamas Houlihan, and back row, left to right, Larry Alsum, Wendy Dykstra, Jim Wysocki and Doug Posthuma. Wolter and Posthuma are the Wisconsin representatives who also participated in the Potato Industry Leadership Institute.

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NPC News . . . continued from pg. 45

NPC Press Conference Calls for Ag Labor Reform During the Potato D.C. Fly-In, February 24-27, U.S. potato growers and allied industry members held a press conference on Capitol Hill calling for the Senate to take up legislation to help secure stable, affordable ag labor for America’s farmers. Speaking alongside of NPC President Britt Raybould and Vice President of Legislative and Governmental Affairs R.J. Andrus were sponsors and supporters of the bipartisan Housepassed Farm Workforce Modernization Act, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.). Also present were Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and Jim Bair, president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association.

National Potato Council President Britt Raybould, second from right, speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill calling for the Senate to take up legislation to help secure stable, affordable ag labor for America’s farmers. At right is Larry Alsum of Alsum Farms & Produce, immediate past president of the NPC, and directly behind the microphone is R.J. Andrus, NPC vice president of legislative and government affairs.

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46 BC�T April


Bulgrin Elected President of National Onion Association Gumz Farms onion packing shed manager wants to help create and steer policies that make sense Article reprinted with permission from The Produce News Wisconsin native Doug Bulgrin has been elected president of the National Onion Association and will serve as the nationwide organization’s chief for the next two years. The National Onion Association was incorporated in 1913 and represents more than 500 onion growers, shippers, packers and suppliers throughout the United States. He is the 32nd president of the National Onion Association (NOA). Trustees of the NOA elected him to the position in December during the organization’s annual convention in Naples, Florida. Bulgrin, 46, has been with Gumz Farms in Endeavor, Wisconsin, and its predecessor, the Lewiston Corporation, for 30 years. He works at present as the onion packing shed manager for Gumz Farms, which bought out Lewiston in 1997.

expectations going in were, “How can I, as one person, make a difference?” Bulgrin quickly learned that he was dealing with human beings—everyday people who needed expertise in some of the larger issues affecting the onion industry. “That awakening in Washington was real. It’s like, ‘We really do matter. We can make a difference,’” Bulgrin says. He hopes these next two years will be busy with meeting people and increasing membership and industry participation in Washington regulations that affect the onion industry. Bulgrin says it will take everyone in the membership to help it evolve. “If the NOA is going to continue to Common'Tater .25page AD thrive, we20-04 haveBadger to evolve,” he remarks.

Doug Bulgrin, the onion packing shed manager for Gumz Farms in Endeavor, Wisconsin, was elected president of the National Onion Association, in December 2019, during the organization’s annual convention.

“We need to hear if things are going well or what isn’t going so well. The more ideas we have out there, the better.” Bulgrin, who grew up on a dairy farm in Portage, is married to his wife, Nikki, and together they have three teenage children. Bulgrin has spent the last seven years farming with his children to introduce them to agriculture. They grow corn, soybeans and pumpkins.




3:27 PM on pg. 48 continued

Bulgrin loves the challenge of solving problems. He got involved with the NOA a few years back, working on food safety issues. “Rather than doing what someone has told us to do with food safety, I’d rather be involved in helping create and steer policies and rules that make sense,” Bulgrin says.

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In his two-year tenure, he wants to concentrate on increasing membership, as well as member participation. EYE-OPENING TRIP He attended his first Washington, D.C. trip with the NOA leadership last year, and his eyes were opened. He says his BC�T April 47

People . . . continued from pg. 47

WPVGA Hall of Famer John Schoenemann Passes Away John Alfred Schoenemann passed away in Madison on January 30, 2020. Born in Milwaukee County on July 26, 1923, he was the son of John H. and Elizabeth (Smith) Schoenemann. John first attended a one-room school in rural Milwaukee County. A graduate of Milwaukee’s Bay View High School, he worked in his father’s greenhouse vegetable growing business before enrolling in the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison College of Agriculture, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in soil science. He married Fay Louise Yarbrough, in 1948, and spent a year as a horticulture extension agent in Racine County before returning to UWMadison as an extension specialist and beginning graduate studies. He completed his Master of Science degree in Horticulture, 1954, and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics, in 1959. As an extension vegetable crops

specialist and researcher with a joint appointment in horticulture and agricultural economics, John specialized in potatoes, developing a production and management program for growing the Russet Burbank variety successfully in Wisconsin. This later became the leading variety grown in the state and fostered the growth of the potato processing industry in Wisconsin. PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES John was a member of professional societies, including the American Society for Horticultural Science, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and the Potato Association of America. He served as a director and a term as president of the Potato Association of America. That organization awarded him honorary life membership in 1985. To the potato industry in Wisconsin, he was regarded as “Mr. Potato” at his

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John A. Schoenemann 1923 – 2020

retirement, after 36 years with UWMadison. His colleagues have referred to him as the consummate mentor, helping to shape the careers of a generation of extension specialists and researchers. John was inducted into the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Hall of Fame, in 1992, for lifetime achievement in the development of the state’s potato industry. He enjoyed his long period of retirement doing some consulting work, traveling in the United States and Europe, building and rebuilding his model train layout, and spending many days with his wife, Fay, at their farm in Iowa County. John enjoyed his garden, growing prize tomatoes that he distributed to many neighbors and friends each season. John was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Mildred Knappe (Herman) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and his wife, Fay. He is survived by sons, Mark (Nancy) of Leavenworth, Kansas, and Erik (Bette) of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, and grandchildren, Nicholas and Caitlin. Funeral arrangements and services were private.

Badger Beat

How Seed Spacing Affects Yield Size profile and quality of fresh market potatoes also directly impacted By Yi Wang, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Selecting suitable varieties is an essential first step in any

successful potato operation. Advanced varieties need to not only suit the intended market, but also be well adapted to local growing conditions. Growers should be provided with agronomic packages specific to new varieties grown under local growing conditions to meet changing production practices, pest pressure and market demand.

Reds (Dark Red Norland vs. W8893-1R)

Above: Yi Wang, University of WisconsinMadison Department of Horticulture, gives research updates on irrigation and potato fertility trials at a past Antigo Field Day.

In 2019, we started a field study at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station (HARS) to investigate best in-row seed spacing of two new elite varieties from the Wisconsin potato breeding program, Plover Russet (W9133-1rus) and W8893-1R, and compare them to their standard counterparts. Plover Russet has many assets for fresh market production: 1) attractive russeting on the skin and an oblong shape (misshapen tubers are rare); 2) bulks fast and has early vine senescence, setting 8-10 tubers per plant; 3) total yield is comparable to Goldrush across the Central Sands production region. W8893-1R is a potential replacement for Dark Red Norland (DRN), with similar features for vine maturity, skin set, common scab tolerance and Verticillium wilt susceptibility. Relative strengths of W88931R compared to DRN include: 1) continued on pg. 50

Figure 1: Total yield of Dark Red Norland (DRN) and W8893-1R is illustrated under the three seed spacing treatments. Bars with the same letter are not significantly at ι=0.05. BC�T April 49

Badger Beat. . .

continued from pg. 49

Row spacing ''

34'' row spacing

36'' row spacing

Within-row seed spacing '' 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

1.75-oz. Seed Cwt/a 34 29 25 22 20 18 17 32 27 24 21 19 17 16

2.0-oz. Seed Cwt/a 39 33 29 26 23 21 19 36 31 27 24 22 20 18

2.25-oz. Seed Cwt/a 43 37 32 29 26 24 22 41 35 31 28 25 22 20

Seed pieces per acre 30,748 26,356 23,061 20,499 18,449 16,772 15,374 29,040 24,891 21,780 19,360 17,424 15,480 14,520

Table 1: Requirements of seed per acre are shown at 34- and 36-inch row spacing, with seed spacing from 6 to 12 inches.

darker red skin in the Central Sands production region; 2) uniform and stable red color; 3) attractive round tuber shape and shallow eye depth in large tubers. Growers’ decisions on planting population depend on seed size, age, availability, cost and variety.

Table 1 shows the seed per acre requirements at 34- and 36-inch row spacing, with seed spacing from 6 to 12 inches. If seed is suspected of being physiologically old, increasing the in-row spacing at planting is recommended. Additionally, seed size should also be increased to increase

plant vigor. This adjustment may help eliminate the disadvantage of too many stems per acre resulting from physiologically older seed. Typically, for a given variety, as plant density is increased, the total yield might also be increased. However, because of the interplant competition for available nutrients, water, space and sunlight, a plateau will be reached in terms of maximum yield. At this peak, space and plant nutrition constraints can limit potato plants from producing more or larger tubers, which means increasing the number of plants per area cannot increase tuber yield. In our study, there were three in-row seed spacing treatments of 8, 12 and 16 inches. Row spacing was at 36 inches for all plots. Plover Russet and DRN were A size cut seeds (on average 2 ounces, at least one eye per seed piece). Goldrush and W8893-1R were B size single drop seeds.

Figure 2: Skin color of W8893-1R was more uniform than Dark Red Norland at harvest. 50 BC�T April

Seeds were planted on May 1, and at least 50 percent emergence occurred

Variety DNR


Seed Spacing

Size A %

Size B %

8" 12" 16" 8" 12" 16"

48% A 47% A 47% A 42% B 41% B 43% B

35% A 33% AB 26% C 39% A 36% A 30% BC

Tuber Set per plant 10 C 14 B 17 A 10 C 15 B 17 A

Total Tubers produced per acre 221,779 a 209,493 abc 184,362 c 225,618 a 219,615 ab 192,529 bc

Specific Gravity 1.0575 a 1.0583 a 1.0550 a 1.0570 a 1.0613 a 1.0568 a

Size A yield percentage, size B yield percentage, tuber set per plant, total tubers produced per acre and specific gravity are shown for Dark Red Norland and W8893-1R under the three seed spacing treatments. For each volume, numbers followed by different letters are significantly different at α=0.05.

on May 25. Vine killer was applied on August 12, and final harvest was conducted on August 27. Irrigation was managed to keep soil moisture content up to 80 percent of field capacity. Total nitrogen applied was 290 pounds per acre, and other production practices were all standard at HARS. Eight-inch spacing led to the highest total yield for DRN, whereas 12 inches resulted in the highest total yield for W8893-1R. For size A tuber yield percentage, there was not any difference between the three spacing treatments of the two varieties, however lower spacing, at 8 inches, always led to higher percentage of size B tuber yield. It is quite apparent that tuber set per plant increased with wider seed spacing. There is not any difference of specific gravity and hollow heart incidence (data not shown) between different spacing treatments and varieties. At final harvest, we observed that W8893-1R tubers had more uniform and darker red color on the skin compared to DRN (Figure 2). Total yield and size profile of the two varieties under the three seed spacing treatments are shown in Figure 3. Larger seed spacing was associated with higher percentage of tubers greater or equal to 6 ounces (38 percent for Goldrush and 55 percent for Plover Russet).


Seed Spacing


Plover Russet

8" 12" 16" 8" 12" 16"

Tuber Set per plant 8C 11 AB 14 A 8C 10 B 12 A

Total Tubers produced per acre 183,036 a 171,238 ab 157,207 abc 172,146 ab 151,901 bc 136,265 c

Specific Gravity 1.0713 A 1.0730 A 1.0718 A 1.0685 A 1.0663 A 1.0648 A

Tuber set per plant, total tubers produced per acre and specific gravity are given for Goldrush and Plover Russet potatoes under the three seed spacing treatments. For each volume, numbers followed by different letters are significantly different at α=0.05.

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continued on pg. 52 BC�T April 51

Badger Beat. . .

continued from pg. 51

For Goldrush, there is not much difference of total yield between the three spacings, but for Plover Russet, total yield is 31 hundredweight per acre more with 8-inch spacing than at 16-inch spacing. It is noted that Plover Russet showed higher yield potential than Goldrush under all spacing treatments. Again, for both varieties, larger spacing at 16 inches resulted in more tuber set per plant, but since 16-inch seed spacing had less plant density within the field, overall there were fewer total tubers produced per acre. No difference of specific gravity and hollow heart incidence (data not shown) is noted between different treatments. Our summary from the spacing study so far is that: • Smaller spacing is needed for DRN

Figure 3: Total yield and size profile of Goldrush and Plover Russet are recorded under the three seed spacing treatments.

in order to produce higher total yield, however for total yield of W88931R, the seed spacing effect is not noticeable. • For DRN and W8893-1R, there is not any difference of size A yield between the three spacing treatments, but they need smaller seed spacing to produce more size

B yield. • Early season russet varieties might need larger seed spacing so there is more production of tubers larger than 6 ounces. This is the first year of the study, and we are repeating the trial in 2020.


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52 BC�T April

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Test Your Soil for Both Forms of Nitrogen An incomplete measurement can result in an expensive mistake If we apply anhydrous ammonia to the soil, why don’t we test the soil for ammonium? Are you confident that all the nitrogen from the anhydrous ammonia you applied last fall is available this spring? Did you apply manure on a field as a source of nitrogen? The only way to know if that nitrogen is available for your crop is to test the soil for both nitrate and ammonium. “When nitrogen is added to the soil as fertilizer or manure it is not stable. The longer the nutrient is in the soil before crop uptake, the greater the risk of losing some of the nitrogen,” notes Dr. Jim Friedericks, AgSource Laboratories director of outreach and education. “Hopefully, most of the N will be captured by the crop roots, but some will be lost by natural processes,” Dr. Friedericks adds. “Rather than guessing what is going on, it is better to test the soil so you can manage it.”

Plants absorb nitrogen from the soil as either nitrate or ammonium. Nitrogen can be added as fertilizer, including forms such as ammonium, nitrate or urea, or it can be applied as more complex organic forms like manure or within crop residues. The nitrogen that is in crop residues, as well as within the organic portion of manure, is bound up with cells and fiber, so it must go through a biological decomposition before released as ammonium in the soil. USED OR LOST Then, just as depicted in the nitrogen cycle (Figure 1), ammonium and nitrate can be used by plants or other soil organisms, or they are lost through leaching and volatilization. “The processes that impact nitrogen in the soil are a challenge to work with, especially in the spring when soil temperature and moisture levels change so quickly,” Friedericks says. As the soil warms up, nitrates are formed from the ammonium in

Above: Ammonium and nitrate can be used by plants or other soil organisms, or they are lost through leaching and volatilization.

the soil. This conversion is faster when the soil is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But, wet areas in a field warm up more slowly, and excess moisture in the soil can either leach the nitrate, or the nitrate might be converted to gaseous nitrogen and be lost to the air if the soil remains waterlogged. Just analyzing the soil for nitrate reflects the fact that ammonium typically converts to nitrate rapidly in warm soil. If fertilizer was recently applied, however, or if a nitrification inhibitor was applied with the fertilizer, then continued on pg. 54 BC�T April 53

Test Your Soil For Both Forms of Nitrogen. . . continued from pg. 53

considerable amounts of ammonium can be present even after planting. In that situation, a low nitrate test value indicates the incomplete conversion to the nitrate form, not a deficiency of nitrogen. Additionally, a soil with a pH of less than 5.5 can restrict the rate of this biological conversion. BACKGROUND CONCENTRATION Because soil organic matter is a source of nitrogen and these conversions occur naturally in soil, there is typically a “background” concentration of both ammonium and nitrate even in an unfertilized soil. Those values are typically between 4 and 8 ppm (parts per million) for both nitrate and ammonium. Dr. Friedericks recalls a recent example of the usefulness of testing

ammonium in the soil. “A grower applied manure last fall and sent soil samples to the laboratory in April. He called with questions because the soil test nitrate result showed only 7 pounds of nitrogen available in the field and he was worried that he had lost all the nitrogen he had applied,” Dr. Friedericks relates. “When the ammonium was also tested by the lab, the soil had 150 pounds of N as ammonium, showing that the conversion process had not started in his field and he could account for all the nitrogen he thought he had,” Dr. Friedericks says. The moral of the story is that if you don’t test for both ammonium and nitrate, you may be getting an incomplete measurement, potentially causing an expensive mistake.

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Here are a few ways to use laboratory analyses to measure nitrogen availability: •A dd a nitrate and ammonium evaluation to a standard soil test. oN ote: The results of these add-on tests are limited because they only evaluate the top 6-8 inches of soil, not accounting for the downward movement of nitrates. • Collect a profile nitrogen sample from 0 to 12 inches deep and from 12- to 24-inch depths. o This has the advantage of accounting for the mobile nitrate down to 2 feet. o Adding an ammonium test to the top 12-inch sample can indicate nitrogen that is available but not yet in the nitrate form. • T he Pre-Side-dress Soil Nitrate Test (PSNT) is collected when corn is 6 inches tall. It is used to adjust the N application for the intense growth of the weeks following. o T he PSNT measures only the nitrate in the upper 12 inches of soil. o T he recommendations from this test are most accurate when the field has a history of manure application. If only commercial fertilizer has been applied, the test can underestimate the amount of side-dress N required to sustain the crop (Figure 1). o Consider adding an ammonium test that better measures the amount of N available to the crop. The ammonium found can be reduced from the recommendation, keeping in mind that there is always some background ammonium in the soil. About AgSource Laboratories AgSource Laboratories is a leader in agricultural, turf and environmental laboratory analysis and information management services, with facilities in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oregon. AgSource Laboratories is a subsidiary of URUS. Learn more at www.agsourcelaboratories.com.

Eyes on Associates

By WPVGA Associate Div. President Kenton Mehlberg, T.I.P. / Ag Grow Solutions

Greetings, everyone.

I hope that by the time you read this article spring has sprung. At this moment, it is having a hard time making up its mind, but I suppose that is typical for this time of year. Last week, during our WPVGA Associate Division Board meeting, we took some time to review feedback from the 2020 Grower Education Conference & Industry Show. I was extremely pleased to see a vast majority of the feedback was positive. For the first time in quite a few years, every survey turned in indicated the person filling it out would be back again for next year’s show. We served 465 attendees for lunch on Tuesday, which was the most ever. Attendance overall for the show was exceptional. Thank you again to all our sponsors and everyone involved. Along with feedback, we received some good suggestions for improvement. We will always continue to take input into consideration as we plan future events.

The Associate Division constantly strives to keep our industry show great and always looks to make improvements going forward.


continued on pg. 56


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SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE In last month’s article, I wrote about the Avis M. Wysocki Memorial Scholarship. Proceeds from the annual silent auction held during the Industry Show, along with an Associate Division contribution, go








Eyes on Associates. . . continued from pg. 55

toward funding the scholarship. This year’s scholarship recipient will receive $2,510 to put toward education expenses. In all, the WPVGA Associate Division and Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary will be awarding scholarships totaling $6,000. The purpose of these annual scholarships is to provide financial assistance to post-secondary students whose immediate families are members of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA). Applications for the scholarships must be submitted by May 1, 2020. They can be obtained online at www. wisconsinpotatoes.com or by calling the WPVGA office at 715-623-7683. The 2020 Putt-Tato Open golf outing will be held on Tuesday, July 14, at Bull’s Eye Country Club in Wisconsin Rapids. The Associate Division has begun planning this event and we will be sending out sponsorship opportunities soon. We will have a great lineup of raffle prizes and hole prizes again this year. Let’s keep our

Above: Chris Brooks (left), Central Door Solutions and a WPVGA Associate Division Board member, takes a moment during the 2020 Industry Show to pose for a picture with Badger Common’Tater Managing Editor Joe Kertzman (right). Attendance overall for the show was exceptional.

fingers crossed for good weather. This is always a fun event and a great opportunity to network with folks in the industry. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend. I will have more details in next month’s column.


Mark your Ca

ato Open July 14 - Putt-T ltural ancock Agricuon July 16 - H Research Stati Field Day

56 BC�T April

I will close this month by once again reminding everyone that the Associated Division will be hosting its first annual sporting clays shoot later this year. The event will take place in either late August before harvest or mid- to late-October after harvest. The event will be held at the Wausau Trap and Skeet Club. Vendors and growers are encouraged to attend. I will provide a date as soon as it is available, but please plan to come out and enjoy this new and exciting event. As always, please contact me or any of our board members with thoughts or input you might have. Best of luck to everyone starting to put crops in the ground over the next month. Be safe, stay positive and see you next month.

Kenton Mehlberg WPVGA Associate Division President

Ali's Kitchen

Author’s Version of Niçoise Salad Is Delish!

A few rules were broken in the making of this dish, but it still qualifies as scrumptious Column and photos by Ali Carter, Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary I’m not a fan of rules. Well, wait, I should clarify that. I am not a fan of rules that I consider nonsense. And, cooking rules are ones that I tend to break often and with abandon. Take the Niçoise salad for instance. Originating from the South of France, a “true” Niçoise salad typically requires tomatoes, anchovies, hardboiled eggs, olives (Niçoise olives) and basil. I have found, however, that not everyone adheres to those ingredients and some people feel quite passionately about their version of this salad being the correct one. The changing rules, and differing

opinions, can make things a bit tricky when you attempt to narrow down what exactly is allowed in a Niçoise salad. I say we just toss any rules right out the window. EVER-CHANGING RECIPE Our version of this salad is ever changing, but since my own rules make sense to me, you will typically find a few consistencies each time I serve you, my dear guest, this colorful dish. My version includes small boiled potatoes, lots of green veggies, olives and some type of herbal vinaigrette, and is usually topped with a boiled egg or two. Sometimes we whip up a colorful Niçoise salad using leftovers from the week (this horrifies my French friend—sorry, Aleesia), and other times, it is a well thought out process. The only other requirement I have of my salad is that it is never tossed, but rather each individual ingredient is carefully placed on a pretty platter like a work of art. Not only is this a beautiful way to present the salad, but it also allows each person the ability to serve themselves what they’d like from the salad and avoid any ingredient that they may have an aversion to.

Ingredients: Niçoise Salad

• 1 lb. small yellow potatoes • 2 Tbsp. olive oil • 2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning • 1 lb. green beans, lightly steamed • 1 lb. asparagus spears, woody stems removed, lightly steamed • ½ cup olives, sliced in half • 2 eggs, hard boiled and sliced • ¼ cup capers • 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped • 3 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped • salt and pepper for seasoning the salad

continued on pg. 58 BC�T April 57

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Ali's Kitchen. . .

continued from pg. 57

AgBiome Innovations..................... 5

Enjoy this month’s recipe, let loose and ignore the rules (well, most of them), find inspiration here and create your own work of edible art!

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Oh, and if you really want to impress your guests, I’ll share a little tip I learned a few years ago thanks to Google: The proper way to pronounce Niçoise is “nee-SWAHZ” (translates to “in the style of the French city of Nice”). DIRECTIONS For the vinaigrette: Add the dressing ingredients (vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper) into a quart-size mason jar. Place a lid on the jar and tighten well, then give everything a good shake to mix the ingredients. Place in fridge until ready to assemble your salad. This dressing stays great in the sealed mason jar, in the fridge, for a week or so. For the potatoes: Boil the potatoes in water until fork tender. Drain well. Place boiled potatoes into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Gently stir to coat the potatoes with the seasoning. Set aside. To assemble the salad: Add the baby spinach to a medium-size mixing bowl, drizzle with about a 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss to coat the spinach with the dressing. Place the dressed spinach in the middle of your serving plate. Next, place the green beans and asparagus

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Vinaigrette Dressing • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar • 1 Tbsp. honey • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced • 1/2 cup olive oil • 1/4 tsp. salt • 1/4 tsp. pepper

on the plate, add the potatoes and olives, then sprinkle on the capers. Drizzle the entire salad with a bit more dressing and a generous sprinkle of the chopped dill, chopped parsley and a bit of salt and pepper. This salad is best if served right after assembling, while the veggies are still warm. Enjoy! Find more recipes at www.LifeOnGraniteRidge.com

SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW WPVGA MEMBERS When you need goods or services, please consider asking our Associate Division Members for quotes or explore what they have to offer. Together, we make a strong organization and appreciate how wonderful we are as a group.

John Miller Farms......................... 13 J.W. Mattek................................... 15 Nelson’s Vegetable Storage Systems Inc................................. 55 North Central Irrigation................ 27 Nutrien Ag Solutions.................... 43 Nutrien Ag Solutions Great Lakes................................. 17 Oasis Irrigation............................. 60 Oro Agri.......................................... 3 Polaris/Digitas ................................ 2 Riesterer & Schnell....................... 37 Roberts Irrigation ......................... 21 Ron’s Refrigeration....................... 44 Rural Mutual Insurance................ 14 Sand County Equipment............... 45 Schroeder Brothers Farms.............. 7 Swiderski Equipment.................... 19 ThorPack....................................... 51 T.I.P............................................... 31 Vantage North Central.................. 20 Volm Companies........................... 47 Warner & Warner......................... 30 WPVGA Associate Division and Auxiliary Scholarship.................. 25 WPVGA Spud Seed Classic............ 59 WPVGA Support Our Members.... 58 WSPIA........................................... 22

58 BC�T April

Friday, June 19, 2020 Bass Lake Country Club W10650 Bass Lake Road Deerbrook, WI 54424

Deadline for sponsorship commitments to be included in June Badger Common'Tater: May 8, 2020* DINNER SPONSOR $2,000 • Company name and logo on three 12-foot banners placed in prominent areas including dinner area • Company name and logo in Badger Common'Tater • Verbal recognition and name on sign at event • Registration and dinner for four golfers

GOLDRUSH SPONSOR $1,500 • Company name and logo on two 12-foot banners placed in a prominent area on the course • Company name and logo in Badger Common'Tater • Verbal recognition and name on sign at event • Registration and dinner for two golfers



• Company name and logo on one 8-foot banner placed in a prominent area on the course • Company name and logo in Badger Common'Tater • Verbal recognition and name on sign at event

OCCUPIED HOLE SPONSOR $300 • Company name on hole sign • Rights to occupy a hole on the course and provide giveaways* *If alcohol is being served, it must be purchased through the golf course • Verbal recognition and name on sign at event

BASIC HOLE SPONSOR $200 • Company name on hole sign • Verbal recognition and name on sign at event

• Company name/logo on one 12-foot banner placed in a prominent area on the course • Company name/logo in Badger Common'Tater • Verbal recognition and name on sign at event • Registration and dinner for one golfer

CONTACT KAREN RASMUSSEN for more details (715) 623-7683 Make checks payable to WSPIA *

We WILL accept sponsors after this date.

MAIL PAYMENT TO: WSPIA, P.O. Box 173 Antigo, WI 54409

Since 1998, this tournament raised over $111,000, which was donated to Wisconsin potato research.

P.O. Box 327 Antigo, WI 54409

Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage Paid Stevens Point, WI 54481 Permit No. 480




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