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Wisconsin Unites for 70th Annual Grower Ed Conference & Industry Show

The show floor was abuzz, the luncheons, dinners and banquets full, and presentations informative

By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater

The resolve of Wisconsin potato growers was on full display at the 2019 Grower Education Conference & Industry Show, February 5-7, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point. It is one resilient group of hearty people.

The potato and vegetable growing industry came out in full force to support the growers and each other after one of the toughest planting, growing and harvest seasons in state history.

The Industry Show is a teaming in and of itself—a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Extension and the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), and in its 70th year, the organizations have gotten it right, down to the very last details.

Thanks to the efforts of WPVGA staff members, particularly Executive Assistant Julie Braun and Financial Officer Karen Rasmussen, and the Associate Division Board, there is a waiting list for booth space, an Industry Show teeming with crowds and high attendance—400 registered attendees—for the Grower Education Conference.

But it was the growers who were to be commended this year and admired for always using best practices, experienced techniques and boots on the ground, putting in incredible hours and pushing through to harvest and beyond. That’s where the credit belongs.

And it didn’t go unnoticed. Everyone from booth holders to researchers presenting agricultural topics paused to reflect on what was a potentially disastrous season and give respect to those who persevered.

Occupying booths were irrigation companies and implement dealers; banks and insurance agencies; the technology sector; fertilizer plants and chemical companies; credit unions; parts dealers; building and roofing contractors; seed suppliers; crop consultants; equipment manufacturers and much more.

University researchers did what they do best—researched what topics would be of most value to growers prior to the Grower Education Conference and lined up experts to address those areas.

Topics ranged from management of potato virus Y (PVY), bacterial blackleg and soft rot to launching of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-SCRI (Specialty Crop Research Initiative) potato soil health project, and included pesticide use, fungicides as inadvertent drivers of insecticide resistance, and breeding for late blight resistance.

Managing seed risk in variable environments was a timely topic, as was managing nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, an update on the Little Plover River Watershed Enhancement Project and chronic diseases eroding seed and crop quality.

One presentation tackled “GM Tomatoes to CRISPR Cows: How Consumers Make Sense of Modern Agriculture.” Another focused on improving forecasts of crop water demand with ET (evapotranspiration) measurements over irrigated potatoes.

If interested in accessing the 2019 Grower Education Conference proceedings, as well as those of previous years, visit

For the third consecutive year, the WPVGA Associate Division conducted a “Bringing Value to Agriculture” session, Tuesday, February 5, consisting of five 10-minute presentations given by select exhibitors.

The exhibitors applied for the opportunity to discuss new technologies, tools, services and approaches their companies offer in agricultural management of potato and vegetable production systems.

The Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association and WPVGA Associate Division hosted a reception Tuesday evening, and the WPVGA and Associate Division held an excellent banquet Wednesday night, complete with hors d’oeuvres sponsored by McCain Foods, dinner and drinks, an industry recognition and awards program, cash prizes and entertainment by a fun five-piece band, The Drovers.

Our sincere thanks to all sponsors who made the 2019 UW Extension & WPVGA Grower Education Conference & Industry Show possible!

Platinum Sponsors
Bio-Gro, Inc.; Compeer Financial; Exacto—makers of AquiMax®; Gowan USA; M3 Insurance; McCain Foods, USA; Nichino America—makers of Torac Insecticides; Nutrien Ag Solutions; Thorpack, LLC and Volm Companies, Inc.

Gold Sponsors
Ag World Support Systems; AgCountry Farm Credit Services; AMVAC; Big Iron Equipment, Inc.; BMO Harris Bank; Jay-Mar, Inc.; Mid-State Truck Service; Midwestern BioAg; NACHURS; Omernik & Associates; Vive Crop Protection and Wilbur-Ellis Company

Silver Sponsors
Allen Supply Company, Inc.; Nelson’s Vegetable Storage Systems; Schweitzer Spray Coatings; TH Agri-Chemicals; T.I.P. Inc. / Ag Grow Solutions; TriEst Ag Group, Inc. and Vista Financial Strategies

Click here to read the full Badger Common’Tater article beginning on page 14 of the digital issue.

Badger CommonTater

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