Historical Significance

PAA celebrates 100 years

Published in the January 2016 Issue Published online: Jan 06, 2016 Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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The Potato Association of America (PAA) will celebrate its 100th annual meeting July 31 through Aug. 4 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich. The same hotel hosted the second annual meeting in 1915. In honor of this 100-year anniversary, we’re taking a look back at some PAA milestones.

There were 15 objectives set out by the original constitution. Many hold true today, including:

Collect and disseminate the best available information relating to both the practical and scientific phases involved in increased yields coupled with a lessened cost.

Create better seed … and encourage a system of seed certification.

Stimulate the development of new and improved varieties … and assist in determining adaptation through uniform tests in all parts of the country.

Encourage measures designed to safeguard the industry against the introductions of disease and insect pests.

The PAA’s first annual meeting was attended by 67 American delegates. Today, the PAA has over 550 members from 32 countries on six continents. Twenty-five of those members are known as “sustaining members.” These special members include agribusiness, grower commissions and boards, and farming operations. The PAA has also throughout its history elected over 200 Honorary Life Members, notably R.D. Offutt, J.R. Simplot, and Wallace and Harrison McCain.

Annual membership dues in 1923 were $2. Today, annual dues are $100.

Over 350 potato varieties have been developed and released by PAA members, including such notables as Shepody, Goldrush, Atlantic, Norland, Yukon Gold and Umatilla Russet.

It should be noted that the accomplishments listed here only scratch the surface of the breadth of work the PAA has done on behalf of the potato industry over the past century. There are countless other contributions not listed here that are just as significant and beneficial to the industry consumers and growers’ bottom lines.

Innovations by PAA members include:

  • Drum-drying process for potato flakes
  • Computer apparatus for measuring specific gravity
  • Automatic truck tarper
  • Novel sprout inhibitor
  • Region-specific late blight forecasting software
  • Degree-day models for early blight development
  • Methodology for measuring reducing sugars and sucrose with YSI spectrophotometer
  • Methodology to detect multiple viruses simultaneously
  • Correlation between reflectance and french fry/chip color
  • Cooperative breeding programs
  • Bacterial ring rot detection protocols

Research highlights from the PAA include:

  • Seed certification system
  • Eradication of spindle tuber viroid in North America
  • Discovery of cause of brown center/hollow heart
  • Solutions to pathogen and insect resistance to pesticides
  • Blackspot bruise awareness and reduction
  • In vitro techniques for rapid multiplication of germplasm
  • Use of stem cuttings as models for potato plant growth
  • Zebra chip disease identification