Colorado could be getting out of an exclusive club—U.S. states that don’t have certified seed laws for commercial potato growers and seed producers—if the General Assembly passes SB 10-72, the Colorado Seed Potato Act.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, whose district includes the San Luis Valley. The potato industry generates more than $220 million in Colorado annually, according to potato growers who testified on SB 72 Thursday before the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The committee gave its unanimous approval to SB 72 and because it carries a small cost to the state, sent it on to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further action.
The Colorado Seed Potato Act would require all growers who plant potatoes in more than one acre to plant seed potatoes that have been certified by a certifying agency. Under the bill, Colorado State University would become the certifying authority.
A certified seed act would aid in reducing PVY by requiring growers to plant certified seed at least every other year, or test seed they want to plant, according to Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee Area II. Less disease will result in higher quality crops and less pesticide use, he told the agriculture committee. It also will allow Colorado growers to keep pace with the rest of the United States in exporting seed and commercial potatoes.