Back to Its Roots

45th annual University of Idaho Potato Conference

Published in the January 2013 Issue Published online: Jan 25, 2013 Nora Olsen, co-chair of 2013 Idaho Potato Conferen
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"Education and Innovation" is this year's theme for the 45th annual University of Idaho Potato Conference and 34th Annual Eastern Idaho Ag Expo to be held Jan. 22-24 in Pocatello, Idaho. The conference will have concurrent one-hour sessions each day starting on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 8 a.m. and ending Jan. 24 at noon. Topics will vary and include all aspects of potato production and marketing.

The conference will go back to its roots with basic potato and plant science education by offering a "Potato Science Course," consisting of nine one-hour sessions starting with "Potato Crop Development" and ending with "Storage and Quality." Other classes will include "Seed Physiology and Planting Management," "Soil and Fertility Management," "Seed Certification and Disease Management," "Irrigation Management" and "Stress Physiology," "Insect Management," "Weed Management," "Vine Kill" and "Harvest." You can attend one session to supplement your education on that particular topic, or all nine sessions for the complete course. These classes will be interactive and engaging for all participants, and will focus on the basic concepts needed to understand potato production.

The remainder of the conference will be a blend of education and innovation to lead the industry into the following growing season and beyond. Wednesday morning will have dedicated seminars on the topic of potato psyllids and zebra chip. These seminars will cover what happened in 2012 in Idaho and an overview of zebra chip biology by one of the world's leading experts on zebra chip, Dr. Neil Gudmestad from North Dakota State University.

Seminar presentations will also include potato psyllid overwintering in Idaho and psyllid identification, insecticide management and a bird's eye view of zebra chip control from Idaho aerial applicators. The morning seminar session will end with University of Idaho's agricultural economists, Dr. Joe Guenthner and Paul Patterson, explaining what it costs to control zebra chip nationally and in Idaho. If you are concerned about zebra chip, you don't want to miss these presentations. There will also be a dedicated workshop in the afternoon to ask questions about zebra chip in an informal workshop setting.

The afternoon seminar sessions will focus on current issues in the potato industry, such as bacterial ring rot and wind erosion management, but also highlight expanding potato markets with updates from the National Potato Council, Idaho Potato Commission and United States Potato Board. Seminars on Thursday morning will educate all on the current potato cyst nematode program and management strategies, along with the new regulation for metam sodium in 2013. Resistance management strategies and current resistance issues will be highlighted for diseases, weeds and insects.

Workshops held throughout the conference will tackle all aspects of potato production and marketing. Dr. Bryan Hopkins will hold workshops on phosphorus fertilization and making sense of petiole and soil tests. There will be a dedicated workshop on the value of potatoes for livestock feed with input from University of Idaho livestock specialists Drs. Benton Glaze and Rick Norell. Financial impacts such as taxes, cost of production and energy conservation workshops will be very enlightening.

If you are curious about new varieties, plan to attend the cultivar update workshop. Sanitation of equipment and storages will be emphasized in a dedicated workshop on the subject. Spanish-speaking sessions will include topics on zebra chip, sprayer calibration, irrigation scheduling, soil erosion control, potato bruising, foreign material reduction and pesticide application. There will be an interactive "Potato Management Jeopardy" to keep the session fun and engaging.

Plan to attend the Idaho Potato Conference in January. There will be a topic of interest for everyone.