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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News

Farm Perspectives – Produce Traceability Initiative

Traceability - Bushmans Inc Blog

Many years ago there was a connection between the consumer and the farmer and that connection created a level of trust.  Before the days of large national retailers local produce was a way of life and it was likely that you knew the farmer that grew the food that was being sold at your corner grocery store.  If you didn’t know him, you knew of him and where he was from.

As retailers grew, so did farms.  Instead of selling produce locally the geography of markets expanded, national chains developed distribution centers and produce was shipped further and further away from where it was grown.  This expansion created a disconnect between the producer and the consumer despite the fact that the produce was just as healthy and just as good for you.

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is designed to do many things, but one of the most important is to help foster that connection between where the food is grown and the consumer.  By being able to trace food back to its place of birth a consumer has a much higher comfort level with that produce and in the consumer’s mind creates that connection back to the land, which is something we should support and embrace as producers.

Of course there are other practical reasons to embrace PTI, the least of which is quickly becoming mandatory when doing business with larger retailers. Being able to trace produce back to the field level is no longer a luxury.  It is quickly becoming a requirement to participate in the marketplace.  Growers who resist implementing PTI will ultimately find themselves on the outside looking in and will ultimately have difficulty finding outlets for their product.

PTI also offers an element of protection for producers.  By being able to quickly track product, any recall will not be as daunting and a complete accounting of what happened to the produce will be at the grower’s fingertips.  This kind of recordkeeping may seem daunting at first, however once in place it will give the grower the peace of mind by knowing everything that happed to that produce during both production and storage.

It seems to me that universally as an industry, we will always be asked to provide more services for the privilege of selling our product.  While that is frustrating at times we have shown time and time again that even though implementation is daunting as we go through it, after a while it becomes second nature.  I think a prime example of that is the food safety standards that only a few years ago seemed like they would be impossible to implement.   With that said, it seems that just about every shed currently is certified and while it does take some effort and investment, we figure out how to crack that nut and we are presently a better industry because of it.  I have no doubt in about 5 years we will be saying the same thing about PTI, and we will be learning how to do yet a new set of tasks that will set us apart once more.  

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Vegetable Crop Update #15

Vegetable Crop Update #15

Vegetable Crop Update #15

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News | Tater Talk

Tater Talk – July 25, 2014

Tater Talk - July 25, 2014

Tater Talk – July 25, 2014

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News

Behind the Scenes: Potato Late Blight, There’s Blight on the Wisconsin Landscape!

Blog 26

Late blight caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s and 1850s.

This disease and its related problems caused massive hunger, starvation and poverty, resulting in mass emigration from the region.  This disease is still a concern today.

The fungus which caused the Irish potato famine is still active today.  It was identified in Portage County just last week.  It can cause serious problems for potato, tomato, eggplants and other solanaceous crops today.  Phytophthora infestans (“infests”) is the cause of potato late blight.  It is a fast moving, community disease that growers, home gardeners and garden center managers must take seriously and properly manage to ensure a healthy, adequate food supply.

There are many concerns for Wisconsin vegetable growers every year whether farmer or home gardener.  Weather, growth problems, pests, water, market demand—but one pest problem, foliar or leaf blight, is especially challenging.  This can commonly attack tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cucumbers.  These diseases cause perfectly healthy appearing green plants to break out in brown spots, turn yellow and die prematurely.  Many home gardeners run to their local garden center for a remedy.  But by the time leaves begin to yellow and the brown spots appear the disease may have progressed to a point where there is no stopping it.

On the farm, vegetable growers face the same threat from foliar blights every year.  Potato and vegetable growers in Wisconsin have worked closely with University of Wisconsin researchers for decades, to understand the science behind that makes these blights tick.  Through research, we have developed and implemented innovative disease management strategies to both avoid and combat plant disease problems.

What farmers are managing and attempting to control through our pest management programs is a very persistent fungus.  Growers start by ensuring that all seed is clean and disease-free to prevent the introduction and spread of the fungus onto their farm and into their fields.  The first step is often to reduce the threat of infection.  Blights are caused by the fungal spores and most can survive over winter in soil on decaying vegetation.  Growers take great care to rotate their crops away from the previous year’s crops, planting them in disease-free areas.  By practicing crop rotation we avoid the threat of early season infection from overwintered spores.  We are also careful to avoid moving fungal spores from field to field by washing and sanitizing equipment when moving between fields.  Farmers also reduce the risk of losses by using disease resistant varieties.  Our plant breeders select varieties with the ability to resist various diseases whenever possible (seed catalogs often include disease resistance in their descriptions of varieties).

Despite farmer’s best efforts, nature has a way to combat our disease-free management plans and efforts.  We know that sooner or later, with the right conditions, spores will be carried on the winds to susceptible vegetables and disease control will be needed.  Early detection of the spores helps keep the controls to a minimum without sacrificing crop yields.  Farmers achieve this by knowing everything possible about the specific fungal spores through research and science.

Crops are carefully inspected every week.  Growers are now on the verge of using cutting edge DNA assays to identify individual spores before they can even begin to infect plants!  Researchers can assess the precise needs of the foliar blight spore for water and temperature and then develop sophisticated prediction models that allow growers to deploy precise control measures.

By WI state law, growers, homeowners and/or garden centers are required to properly dispose of any signs and sources of late blight before the start of each growing season.  Any and all left over potatoes, not destined to market are destroyed every year by April 15th..

Growers use a sophisticated weather and disease forecasting model that indicates when growers should begin applying crop protectant materials to limit late blight from developing in fields.  This forecasting model (Blight cast,) calculates disease severity values, which accumulate when conditions are right for disease development, usually during high temperatures, high humidity and rain.

Late blight can cause devastation to crops and home gardens across the state.  Growers will proactively destroy large portions of fields if late blight is found.  This is the only effective way to stop the disease from spreading as the fungus survives only on living tissue of a host plant.  The disease spreads easily and losses will be even greater if left uncontrolled.  Growers are also concerned about spreading the disease spores as they move from field to field.  To mitigate this, farmers routinely sanitize all equipment, even their boots, before entering fields to avoid spreading the fungal spores.

Late blight is a community disease.  Growers actively discuss blight occurrences throughout the region.  UW-Madison Plant Pathologist Amanda Gevens sends out state-wide updates on when to expect problems (based on conditions reliant on modeling).  Research alerts, reports and updates are communicated to growers regarding locations the disease has been documented and the severity of the outbreak.  She actively discusses late blight concerns with local media to ensure that the general public is aware of the potentially devastating effects of this serious disease.

Blog 8 Picture

Like farmers, gardeners are encouraged to destroy garden areas immediately if infection is found.  This action prevents the spread and protects other homeowners as well as local farmers from this disease.  In recent years, one source of the late blight fungus is tomato plants sold in local garden centers and farmers markets.  It is critical that the public is aware of late blight and the associated risks.  We must realize that this is a community-wide problem, which requires everyone who grows plants that can host late blight to be watchful and ready to act!  Our food security is too important to be placed at risk by failing to act quickly.  The Irish had little knowledge of what the disease was in the 1800s and no weapons to fight it and the resulting famine had tragic global consequences.  The disease is still with us and science has now provided us with the tools to fight it and it is essential that everyone in the community work to prevent the infestation and its spread.

Because of proper pest control programs, consumers have access to reliable, nutritious foods at affordable prices while the environment benefits with fewer but more effective controls being used.  Battling foliar blights is an ever-evolving process that requires continued investment by growers and researchers.  The security of our food supply in key production areas such as Wisconsin’s Central Sands is a valuable a resource and we need to work together to manage our risks.  

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Disease Supplement #2

Disease Supplement #2

Disease Supplement #2

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Wisconsin Late Blight Update

The late blight collected from potato in Portage County on Friday July 18, 2014 is of the US-8 genotype/strain.

This type is resistant to mefenoxam/metalaxyl fungicides (ie: Ridomil) and is an A2 mating type.
While all other Phytophthora infestans genotypes from the U.S. in 2014, so far, have bee US-23, the US-8 type predominated in the 1990′s and was found in Portage County in 2013.
US-8 is known to infect both tomato and potato (much like the US-23 genotype).

At this time, it is important for potatoes and tomatoes in the Portage County area (plus roughly 50 miles radius) to be preventively managing late blight with effective fungicides. Anti-sporulant fungicides are particularly useful at this time. A 5- to 7-day spray interval is recommended. For production further away from this site, a 7 day program should be appropriate.

There is rain in the forecast for Tues for parts of the state – and then more precipitation forecasted for the week’s end.

Regards,
Amanda

Dr. Amanda J. Gevens
Assistant Professor
Extension Plant Pathologist in Potatoes & Vegetables
University of Wisconsin
Department of Plant Pathology
1630 Linden Dr., Rm. 689
Madison, WI 53706-1598

Office Phone: 608-890-3072
Fax: 608-263-2626
gevens@wisc.edu
http://www.plantpath.wisc.edu/wivegdis/

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Vegetable Crop Update #14

Vegetable Crop Update #14

Vegetable Crop Update #14

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News | Tater Talk

Tater Talk – July 18, 2014

Tater Talk - July 18, 2014

Tater Talk – July 18, 2014

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News | What's Cookin

July 2014 What’s Cookin’

July 2014 What's Cookin'

Summertime means potato salad season is here. Try these tasty recipes at your next picnic as featured in our July 2014 What’s Cookin’ column.

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Posted by WPVGA | Badger Common'Tater Interviews | In the News | News

Interview with Haven Baker

Interview with Haven Baker

The J.R. Simplot Company is both a pioneering potato processor and food company. With over 60 years in the potato business, Simplot believes there are a number of significant areas where biotechnology can benefit many of the entities that make up the potato food chain.

With the introduction of their new Innate™ potatoes, Simplot believes that seed growers, farmers, processors and consumers can all benefit from reduced black spot bruise, low asparagine, and slow degradation of starch to sugars during storage.

Read more of our July 2014 interview with Haven Baker.

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