This is a wonderful time of year when winter grudgingly gives way to spring and our next growing season. From my third story office windows in Antigo I have the opportunity to see trucks hauling seed potatoes from our seed farms in northern Wisconsin to our commercial farms in the Central Sands and beyond. This flurry of activity lasts for several weeks as farms take in, cut, treat, suberize and warm the seed in preparation for planting. Like many things in Wisconsin, potatoes can be very unique. We have a multitude of types and varieties to choose from. These types and varieties are very specific in their purpose. Certain types are better for certain uses. There are many russet varieties, some have cooking characteristics for home and restaurant use, we call fresh or table potatoes. While other russets, are best suited for frying (process / frozen). (more…)
Posts tagged ‘Agricultural stewards’
Agriculture has a certain seasonality to it that is comforting. It gives us something to look forward to, an expectation of timing that you can rely upon. There is a rhythm that that is reassuring and usually calming.
We are currently getting to the end of the growing season for potatoes. While out road scouting last weekend you can faintly see the beginning of the end of many of the living potato plants. You can see the slight discoloration, the fading of green into subtle yellows and browns. The plants start to droop and show signs of wilting. This is what some of the old-timers mean when they say the potatoes are starting to “come home”. (more…)
Even though I work for an organization that has family roots that have been growing potatoes for over 100 years, I didn’t get into agriculture until later in life. I’ll never forget when I first became associated with the potato industry 15 years ago after having a conversation with a potato grower who was much my senior. He told me that raising potatoes isn’t that big of a deal. You put some seed in the ground, put a little sunlight on them, give them a little water and fertilizer and they do the rest on their own. What I’ve found out is that may well be the biggest understatement since astronaut Jim Lovell told Houston he had a problem.
The fact of the matter is farming has become incredibly high tech. Virtually all aspects of production have been studied and influenced by scientific study. (more…)
Changes in technology are a major driving force in the agricultural business, and are one aspect of farming that growers should strive to keep up-to-date. These advancements have a broad spectrum that can vary from enhanced seeds to state-of-the-art tractors. With increased interest and policies concerning greater food safety, these innovations are becoming a necessity.
Here at Nuto Farms, food safety is an integral part of our entire operation. (more…)
Everyone has that one neighbor with a perfect lawn. In order to get the envy of the neighborhood, that homeowner must manage several aspects of his or her lawn, and it starts with the soil. Soil type, water holding capacity, pH, nutrients and minerals, as well as pest and weed control properties, all play a role in the final appearance the lawn will have. It takes a lot of work to have the perfect lawn, but those that do, start with the best soil.
It’s no different for farmers. We always hear about corn and soybeans, but instead we’ll use an example that every Wisconsinite eats – potatoes. Both Wisconsin’s soil and climate create an ideal growing environment for Wisconsinite’s (and American’s) favorite vegetable. Potatoes are grown in three main regions of the state. But, the most famous of these are the central sands counties of Adams, Waushara, Portage, Wood and Waupaca. This is where the bulk of potatoes are grown. It is the combination of the cool northern climate – with a rapid warm up in the spring, and the soil that makes this the perfect place for potato production.
The soil in the central sands lacks organic material and has a lower density (larger air pockets). It also has the perfect pH (level of acidity) and minerals necessary for potato growth. These aspects allow potatoes to grow quickly and consistently. In addition, potatoes grown in this soil are subject to less plant disease.
Whether a farmer is growing corn, soybeans or potatoes, pests, weeds and diseases present significant challenges that affect both the quality and quantity of the growing crop. However, by selecting the ideal environment in terms of both climate and soil, the farmer can use nature as a management technique. Utilizing the environment to aid in pest and disease control, the central sands region helps potato farmers naturally fight these potentially harmful conditions.
Growing food, like potatoes, in the most suitable soil allows farmers to utilize sustainable farming practices. In the case of potatoes, this would include integrated pest management techniques, water conservation and the preservation of Wisconsin’s native ecosystems. So, the next time you look at a lawn, which is the envy of the neighborhood, or dig into that bag of potato chips, remember the important role of Wisconsin’s climate and soils.