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The WPVGA Turns 70 Years Young!

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the WPVGA continues to serve its members as envisioned in 1948

By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater

Things were happening in 1948—some lucky Americans bought television sets, the LP (long play) phonograph record came into vogue, as did affordable post-World War II prefab housing, Velcro, the transistor radio, NASCAR with its first modified stock car race at Daytona Beach, and even the bikini.

Wisconsin’s average potato yield was 96 cwt. (hundredweight) per acre in 1948, and state growers raised 78,000 acres for a total production of 7,488,000 cwt.

The 1974 Wisconsin Potato Industry Board included, back row, left to right, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Robert W. Hougas, Melvin Rominsky, Dennis Zeloski, Robert Gallenberg and Robert F. Thayer from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. In the front row, left to right, are Jack Jilek, Louis E. Wysocki, Robert Diercks and John Mommsen.

Those numbers were a bit different in 2017, with Wisconsin ranking third in the nation in potato production, averaging 425 cwt. per acre and raising 62,000 harvested acres and an estimated 26,350,000 cwt. of quality spuds.

The state’s yield is nearly 4.5 times what it was 70 years ago, production is up over 350 percent and acreage has declined by 11 percent.

Technology, including advances in machinery, irrigation, computers, fertilizer, pest and disease management, and all forms of digital and monitoring devices, has certainly helped increase production per acre, as has good old-fashioned ingenuity and the learning of better ways of growing crops.

Although the number of Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers has declined over the past 70 years, the size of farms has increased dramatically, most of which are now being run by third- and fourth-generation growers.

Click here to read the full Badger Common’Tater article.

Badger CommonTater

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