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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News

Earth Day: A great time to lay plans to keep the buzz in our gardens and fields!

Bumble Bee on Butterfly Weed

Today is Earth Day when nature is awakening and signs of spring abound. Flowers are opening across the landscape and soon the countryside will be resplendent with fruit trees in full bloom. We enjoy the profusion of scents and colors but rarely do we ponder why they exist. If you stand in an orchard or watch a patch of roadside flowers on a quiet afternoon, you will soon discover the answer. You will hear a soft buzz and see small insects of all shapes and sizes flitting between blossoms on their endless quest for nectar and pollen to feed their young. As they are doing this, they are at the same time performing a vital service to the plants by moving pollen between flowers and making it possible for fruit and seeds to form. When they do this, they are generally referred to as “pollinators.”

Lately in the news, there have been lots of stories about the importance of pollinators, namely bees. But why is this such a hot topic today?  Well, the bees (as well as of the other pollinators) are vital to our food systems.  However, the honey bee that has been historically used by farmers to pollinate their crops is under threat from a pervasive malady called Colony Collapse Disorder.

As concerns over honey bees increase, we are beginning to hear more and more about a hitherto un-heralded, but equally vital, component of every ecosystem— native pollinators.  These naturally occurring and hard-working pollinators that include wild bees, bumble bees, butterflies, moths, bats, beetles, flies, and even hummingbirds are essential to ensure both pollination of wild flowers and agricultural crops. Dr. Hannah Gaines Day from the UW Department of Entomology explains the importance of native pollinators: “One in every three bites you eat is dependent on pollinators! In addition to managed honey bees, there are over 4,000 species of native bees in North America and in some cases, these may provide sufficient pollination alone without the assistance of managed honey bees.”  Both managed honey bees and native species are uniquely suited for their role as pollinators. They have co-evolved with flowering plants and often possess structures such as long coiled tongues to sip nectar, hairy bodies that pollen clings to, and even pollen baskets to collect and carry pollen!

Many agricultural crops are widely dependent on pollination and in Wisconsin, cranberries, apples, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, melons, pumpkins, squash and cucumbers could not be grown without managed or native pollination. The cucumber crop actually needs a bee to feed and visit seven or more flowers before it is able to spread the pollen to a female stem for fertilization and ultimate fruit growth.  This kind of industrious labor needs lots of bees of all kinds, and we are fortunate that Wisconsin has a great natural diversity with multiple bee species thriving in agricultural crops—over 180 species of bees have been found in cranberries, over 60 species in cucumbers and over 70 species  in apples.  Research studies have shown that more diverse populations of bees improve fruit set and quality and provide more productivity.

Relying on managed honey bees alone in US agriculture is no longer an option with Colony Collapse Disorder. From what we have learned, moving bees between regions as crop needs dictate—from California almonds to apples and cherries in the Pacific Northwest and ultimately to the Midwest—is taking its toll.  With the emergence of Colony Collapse Disorder, the supply of honey bees is now in question, and bees are already being imported from faraway places like Australia.  Instead of looking for more solutions in the managed bee arena, why not look to the native pollinators for solutions?  They are excellent in pollen and nectar collection, they live here already, don’t cost extra money for growers, and are not broadly susceptible the same honey bee colony diseases.

So how do we ensure these native pollinators will do the job?   Actually, it’s not too hard; we just need to make sure they have plenty to eat!  When crops are not blooming, pollinators search for new food, and they can be encouraged to stay by providing alternate food sources. This can be as simple as restoring or developing habitat areas with plants that flower at different times in wind breaks, field edges, riparian zones, prairies or in recreational biologically diverse areas. Don’t worry, those pesky yellow jacket wasps that plague us at summer picnics with their painful stings are not bees at all and do not pollinate flowers!  So we can happily get rid of them…

Everyone can help!  Even a small area of flowers can provide a healthy, diverse diet and will keep native bees happy.  So this Earth Day is a great time to plan to plant areas that will keep the buzz going. Remember, our combined efforts, however small, can have a large impact on helping our native bees and other pollinators to flourish!

For more information, look over pollinator resources at http://gratton.entomology.wisc.edu/2013/12/04/midwest-food-processors-pollinator-talk/

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

Vegetable Crop Update #2

Vegetable Crop Update #2

Vegetable Crop Update #2

Read full update.

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

Tater Talk – April 17, 2014

Tater Talk - April 17, 2014

 

Tater Talk – April 17, 2014

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

Tater Talk – April 11, 2014

Tater Talk - April 11, 2014

Tater Talk – April 11, 2014

 

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

Tater Talk – April 4, 2014

 

Tater Talk – April 4, 2014

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News

National Design Contest Announced for Wisconsin’s New Spudmobile

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), representing farmers, shippers and packers, seed providers and affiliated business and organizations, has announced a national design contest for its new rolling billboard and educational center on wheels known as the Spudmobile. The contest, open to anyone 18 years or older, is asking participants to submit their designs for the outer “wrap” of the Spudmobile. The Association will be awarding three first prizes of $1,000 each for the best designs.

Read full press release.

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Posted by WPVGA | Badger Common'Tater Feature Stories | In the News | News

In the April 2014 Badger Common’Tater

Tomorrow’s Leaders Attend 2014 Potato Industry Leadership Institute

Wisconsin Tour Kicks off Training

Twenty-four potato growers and industry representatives joined together to form the 2014 class of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI), an annual program jointly administered by the National Potato Council (NPC) and the United States Potato Board (USPB) that identifies and cultivates the next generation of leaders within the industry.

From Feb. 20-27, PILI participants traveled from potato growing regions across the country to attend eight days of industry training and professional development. This year’s class kicked off in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where the class received an overview of the local and national potato industry, including some of the challenges and issues beyond the production sector.

Participants then had a chance to visit potato growing and processing operations throughout Wisconsin, including Heartland Farms, Okray Family Farms, RPE, the Hancock Ag Research Station Storage Research Facility, and the Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Company facility.  Tours were also held at InteVation Food Group, Jay-Mar, and the Point Brewery.  For full coverage, read the April 2014 issue of The Badger Common’Tater.

Gary Beadles explains potato processing at RPE.

Amber Gotch, Storage Manager at the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Research Facility in Hancock, describes the many facets of potato storage research to PILI participants.

Wysocki Family of Companies Receives Honor for Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture

Sponsored by the Agri-Business Committee of the Portage County Business Council, the 2014 Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award was presented to the Wysocki Family of Companies in March.

Wysocki Family of Companies was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award for their outstanding commitment to the progress and success of the agri-business industry and for significant contributions to the Portage County agri-business community.

Wysocki Family of Companies consists of RPE, Paragon Potato Farms, and Wysocki Produce Farm; they are also co-owners of Tasteful Selections, LLC and Central Sands Dairy. For more details, check out the April 2014 edition of The Badger Common’Tater.

Members of the Wysocki family gathered for a photo after receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award.  Pictured are (L-R):  Front row:  Marc and Ryan Wysocki (sons of Jim and Sharon); Back row: Louis, Diane, Russell, Liz, Gary, Sharon and Jim Wysocki; Jacquie and Kirk Wille; Marla, Bill, Harriet and Francis Wysocki.

Central Wisconsin Processing Crops Meeting
March 5, 2014
Elizabeth Inn, Plover, WI

Waushara County Extension Agriculture Agent Ken Williams (left) is pictured with Portage County Extension Ag Agent Ken Schroeder.  Williams, with assistance from Schroeder, coordinated this year’s Central Wisconsin Processing Crops Meeting held March 5, 2014 in Plover.  Schroeder gave a presentation highlighting the upcoming Farm Technology Days which will be held August 12-14 in Stevens Point.  For more information on Farm Tech Days, visit:  www.portagecountyfarmtech.com.  For more photos and information about the Central Wisconsin Processing Crops Meeting, get the April 2014 issue of The Badger Common’Tater.

John Panuska, UW-Madison Extension Specialist – Natural Resource/Water Quality, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, provided an update on the Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program known as WISP 2012.  Panuska said a key feature is the ability to manage root zone water content.  Using WISP’s water balance predictions, along with soil moisture monitoring, growers can plan irrigation timing and amount to take maximum advantage of natural rainfall while minimizing over-application of water.  He said the web-based water management tool is available at:  www.wisp.cals.wisc.edu/.

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

Tater Talk – March 28, 2014

Tater Talk - March 28, 2014

Tater Talk – March 28, 2014

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

April 2014 What’s Cookin’

April 2014 What's Cookin'Serving up another one of “Hungry Girl’s” healthy recipes featuring Wisconsin potatoes in our April 2014 What’s Cookin’ column.

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

Interview with Marv Hopp

Interview with Marv HoppIf you’ve been in or around the Wisconsin potato and vegetable industry for any amount of time over the past 40 years, chances are good that you know Marv Hopp.

Marv has worked at Roberts Irrigation in Stevens Point for the past 38 years, assisting countless farmers with their water and irrigation needs. He is a long-time member of the WPVGA Associate Division who has served on the Associate Division Board of Directors, including multiple terms as President. He has served the industry in many capacities during his tenure, including helping organize the annual Industry Show, working at the Hancock Field Days and coordinating numerous industry golf outings. He currently serves on the WPVGA Water Task Force where he has been a valuable asset to the agricultural industry, providing insight on a wide range of water issues.

Read more of our April 2014 interview with Marv Hopp.

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