Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

In the September 2014 Badger Common’Tater

Wisconsin Spudmobile Hits the Road
This is one hot potato!

Spudmobile Ribbon Cutting

The Wisconsin Spudmobile is on the road. This mobile education unit developed by the Wisconsin Potato &Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) made its debut appearance at Farm Technology Days in Stevens Point, August 12-14.

A press conference and ribbon cutting ceremony was held on August 13 at the WPVGA booth. All eyes were on this amazing new information and educational tool.

“This is a traveling billboard that is actually functional,” says WPVGA Director of Promotions Dana Rady. “It contains eight exhibits that will educate visitors about the quality work Wisconsin growers do, including how they conserve Mother Nature’s resources, utilize the most up-to-date technologies and provide quality and affordable food for families on a daily basis.”

For the complete story, see the September 2014 issue of The Badger Common’Tater.

Dan and Sheila RineDan and Sheila Rine of Rine Ridge Farms, Antigo, prove that the Potato Touch Table is not just for kids.

Nick SomersNick Somers is interviewed inside the Spudmobile by Haley Tenpas of Channel 12 News.  The Spudmobile received excellent media coverage throughout Farm Techology Days.

Hancock Field Day
July 22, 2014
UW Hancock Agricultural Research Station

Aerial Photo at HARSThis aerial photo of the wagons at the Hancock Field Day was taken from the quadcopter flown by Andy Ciurro, an undergraduate working with Dr. Shelley Jansky.

DroneA special feature at this year’s Hancock Field Day was the demonstration of UAV’s or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly referred to as “drones.” Using drones for crop surveillance can help increase yields and improve crop quality, while minimizing the cost of walking the fields or having an airplane do fly-over imaging.

Drone FlyingA drone hovers over a potato field. This low-altitude view (from a few feet above the plants to around 360 feet, which is the regulatory ceiling in the United States for unmanned aircraft operating without special clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration) gives a perspective that farmers have rarely had before. Compared with satellite imagery, it’s much cheaper and offers higher resolution. Because it’s taken under the clouds, it’s unobstructed and available anytime. It’s also much cheaper than crop imaging with a manned aircraft.  For more from this year’s Hancock Field Day, read the September 2014 edition of The Badger Common’Tater.

Looking Ahead: How Biotechnology May Change Potato Storage
By Amy Wiberley-Bradford, Xiaobiao Zhu, Jiming Jiang, Paul C. Bethke

We have been growing, harvesting, storing and characterizing tubers from transgenic potato plants for the past four years. These plants have low expression of the vacuolar invertase gene and were produced for research purposes by Jiming Jiang’s group at UW-Madison. We’ve analyzed sugars from over 2500 individual tubers; fried almost 6000 chips and a few hundred fresh-cut strips; scored fried samples for color, defects, and acrylamide content; conducted enzyme assays; and measured changes in gene expression.

Along the way, we’ve been listening to and participating in larger and deeper discussions about the value of genetically modified potato to the local and national potato industries. So what have we learned? How might this technology help us in the next five to ten years? If we look beyond the molecular details and the caveats that are inherent to small plot research trials, and focus instead on the big picture, what is the most important take-home message that we’d like to share with those who store potatoes? It is this: biotechnology isn’t a magic wand that makes all problems go away, but it is likely to improve the quality of potatoes coming out of storage. Some of the potential benefits and limitations associated with using genetic modification to improve the quality of stored potatoes are illustrated using resistance to cold-induced sweetening, reduction in post-fry color defects and acrylamide content, and reduction in black spot bruise as examples.

For more, check out the September Badger Common’Tater.

Dr. Paul BethkeDr. Paul Bethke is pictured at the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Research Facility in Hancock.

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