As the latest Idaho potato conference comes to a close in Pocatello, growers and other industry representatives are networking about the state's flagship crop.
The 45th Potato Conference, sponsored by the University of Idaho Extension, gathered researchers to probe the disease known as zebra chip. The insect-carried bacteria are the latest threat facing growers in the state.
But he agenda has been wide, report sponsors, covering all phases of production from variety development through planting, harvest and storage.
The 34th Ag Expo, which ran at the same time to offer products and services related to potato production, attracted exhibitors from around the globe.
Organizers this year added a potato science course as an overview of production, notes Nora Olsen, conference co-chair. Participants attended a presentation about specific aspects or were able to attend nine sessions offered in the course.
"It's in line with what the University of Idaho is all about: education," says Olsen. "The conference highlights the latest and the greatest, but sometimes we have to go back and refresh ourselves on the basics.
Olsen, UI Extension potato storage authority, co-chaired the event with Mike Thornton, Parma Research and Extension Center superintendent.
The course included topics such as seed physiology, soil and fertility management, seed certification, diseases, irrigation, stress physiology, insects, weeds and vine kill.
Zebra chip, carried by tiny cicada-like potato psyllid insects, was covered in detail as the producer delegates were eager to learn the latest about the devastating disease. Updates on research were offered, along with grower reports on psyllid control efforts and pesticide applicator observations.
Neil Gudmestad, a North Dakota State University zebra chip biology authority, and UI ag economists Paul Patterson and Joe Guenthner provided information on control costs and implications of the disease to Idaho producers.
Bacterial ring spot, a threat that flared up last summer in the state's spud crops was also probed, along with wind erosion, potato markets and the pale cyst nematode.