Idaho Ag Expo, potato conference set

Published online: Jan 12, 2015

POCATELLO, Idaho—A seminar at the upcoming 47th Annual Idaho Potato Conference will quiz participants in a new curriculum designed to teach the state’s fifth-graders about the history and nutritional value of potatoes.

The two-day conference—hosted at Idaho State University’s student union from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Jan. 21 and 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Jan. 22—includes 45 sessions highlighting the latest in potato issues and research. Seventy-two vendors, including some of the major farm chemical companies, will staff booths at an accompanying trade show in the student union. Furthermore, the 36th Ag Expo, featuring 100 vendors and the major manufacturers of potato equipment, is scheduled for ISU’s Holt Arena from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 20-21 and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 22.

Admission to conference sessions is $25 at the door, but the trade show and expo are free.

During their conference session “Are you Smarter than a Fifth-grader?” UI Extension professor Rhea Lanting, of Twin Falls, and Martha Raidl, a UI nutrition specialist based in Boise, will quiz participants on the middle-school spud curriculum they designed, with funding from UI and the Idaho Potato Commission.

Lanting explained UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is helping to convert their curriculum into four, interactive video lessons, designed for iPads. Lanting hopes to pilot the potato curriculum in three Idaho schools. She said IPC will promote the program, which she hopes will eventually be taught in 40-50 schools.

“Really the goal to me is promoting Idaho products and telling the health benefits of potatoes,” Lanting said.

Opening remarks at the conference will be delivered by John Foltz, dean of UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Key issues to be discussed include the rise of kochia weed resistant to glyphostate herbicide in Western Idaho and a late-season late blight outbreak in Eastern Idaho. Conference co-chairwoman Pam Hutchinson said her lecture will offer tips on managing for the control, prevention and delaying of herbicide resistance, in response to the kochia finding. Co-chairman Phil Nolte will provide an update on the late blight outbreak, caused by heavy August rainfall.

“Fortunately, it didn’t do a whole lot of damage. It just got everybody’s attention,” Nolte said. “The big question now is are we looking at some kind of a pattern that could repeat?”

Other sessions of note include antioxidants in baby potatoes, new sources of potato virus Y resistance for potatoes, research on remote sensing of potato fields, new varieties of Russet Norkotahs, watering supplies and growing conditions in the future climate and an overview of the 2014 Farm Bill.

In addition to the opportunity to network with customers, American Falls farmer Jim Tiede is eager to hear the latest research on zebra chip disease, which first arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 2011.

Spectra Productions owner David Beale, who runs the Ag Expo and conference trade show, said the latest innovations in potato equipment will all be on display under one roof at the Expo. Beale said the events have become an international draw, and he expects a couple of thousand people to visit the Ag Expo.