POCATELLO — The middle of January is a special time of year in Pocatello. It’s the time of year when four-wheel drive, heavy-duty diesel pickups take command of Pocatello’s ice-covered streets and a lot of talk in town is centered on potatoes and potato equipment.
It’s time for the 2019 University of Idaho Potato Conference.
The 51st annual conference will convene Wednesday in the Pond Student Union on the Idaho State University campus and concludes Thursday afternoon.
The two-day conference, put on by the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, brings together all sectors and platforms of the potato industry to discuss a cornucopia of issues facing growers, researchers, producers, processors and farmworkers.
Along with the seminars, more than 100 vendors crowd into the PSU ballroom meeting with growers.
UI weed scientist Pam Hutchinson and UI assistant professor and Extension seed potato specialist Kasia Duellman are the co-chairwomen for this year’s conference.
Duellman said that this year, they decided to cut back on the number of sessions offered at the conference.
“(We’ll have) similar sessions to what has been offered in the past but we’ll have fewer concurrent sessions,” she said. “Instead of having four, we’ll have three concurrent sessions and there will be plenty of opportunities for people to earn their pesticide applicator credits and certified crop adviser credits.”
The first day of the conference features a full day of sessions and seminars. From 10:30 a.m. to noon, the conference will have featured speakers in the Bengal Theater including Mark Maguire, CALS associate dean of research and director of the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station. Maguire will give an update on CALS programs.
Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, will give a presentation on what the commission is doing in 2019 to promote Idaho’s famous potatoes.
Dan Moss, of Moss Farms, will discuss the Potato Sustainability Initiative; and Pat Kole, vice president of the commission, and Ryan Krabill, Potatoes USA director of research and analysis will present a research and policy overview.
At the end of the first day’s session there will be the second-annual grower-speaker social in the Stephens Performing Arts Center rotunda from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with appetizers and refreshments.
This year, the second day of the conference has been extended to include research updates in the afternoon with the conference scheduled to conclude at 3:45 p.m.
“We’re extending the second day for people who want to hear more technical reports on some research that’s been funded by the potato commission and other sources,” Duellman said.
There also will be two days of Spanish language sessions in the Wood River Room during the potato conference.
In conjunction with the potato conference, the 40th annual Eastern Idaho Ag Expo will once again be held in Holt Arena. The ag show is a major draw for growers throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada to see the latest trends and innovations in potato equipment and irrigation hardware and software.
“It’s a great opportunity to get updated information on management strategies for the different problems on potato and it gives them an opportunity to earn their certified crop advisercredits and other credits,” Duellman said of the conference.
Prior to the conference the Idaho Seed Potato Growers Seminar sponsored by the Idaho Crop Improvement Association is scheduled 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Red Lion Hotel.
Today is also the final day to preregister to attend the seminar for $25. Late registration is $35.
For more information about the seed seminar contact Ann Burks at 208-522-9198 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on Tuesday, the Spudnik Equipment Co. will hold its annual customer appreciation day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at its potato equipment manufacturing plant in Blackfoot. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Spudnik will serve a free dinner. For more information or to register go online to Spudnik.com.