Potato Conference begins today

POCATELLO — The Ag Expo opened Tuesday with over 125 exhibitors at Holt Arena on the Idaho State University campus in Pocatello. The Ag Expo continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday.
The Potato Conference is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Pond Building on the ISU campus. Park at Holt Arena and ride the free shuttle bus.
The public is welcome. Admission is free.
At least 100 seed potato producers met Tuesday afternoon in Clarion Inn in Pocatello to study seed potato production.
"To be a commercial potato grower, he/she must have certified seed," said Phil Nolte, Extension Seed Potato Specialist and co-chairman of the Potato Conference.
Potato seed is grown in fields around Driggs, Ashton and Grace, Idaho, Nolte said. These places have high elevation and provide isolation to grow this crop.
"Potatoes are vegetatively produced," he said.
Potatoes are cut and planted in the ground to produce the next year of potatoes. Whatever is in the mama potato will be transmitted to the tuber, Nolte said. This is the reason the seed is certified.
Samples taken from seed potatoes are grown out in southern climates to test the seed.
"It's just one more test to insure the highest quality seed potatoes," said Nolte.
"The crop [in the southern climates] is looking good," he said. "The "grow out" is a little delayed by a week to a week and one-half.
"It would be nice to have normal precipitation," Nolte said. "The weather is a little unprecedented.
According to the Idaho seed potato law, commercial growers must have certified seed, Nolte said.
There is a loophole in the Idaho seed potato law, he said. If the producer can prove he grew the potatoes and stored them and, in addition, had the potatoes tested, he can plant his own potatoes during the next growing season. The potatoes must be tested to prove they do not carry potato leaf roll virus (PLRV), potato virus Y (PVY) and bacterial ring rot (BRR).
For the past 10 years, the seed potato seminar has preceded the Potato Expo. The seed potato seminar is sponsored by Idaho Crop Improvement.
For a full schedule of topics and class times offered at the Potato Conference, go to www.uidaho.edu/extension/easterndistrict/potato-conference .