Annual Potato Conference

Reported by: Melissa Hackney
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Updated: 1/24/2013 9:10 am
        Baked, fried, mashed… no matter how you like these gems, not much has changed in the way we eat them.  What has changed is the way we harvest potatoes.  The Idaho Potato Commission is keeping up with the technology and products that have helped the potato industry evolve.  Many of those items were on display at the annual potato conference.  

“There are several different things they can do here,” said Nora Olsen a professor at the University of Idaho.  “One is educational programs.  They have five or six concurrent sessions going on at one time so if there is one topic you’re not interested in there is definitely going to be another and we actually have this trade show as well so that gives you a chance to really interact closely with the manufacturers in either chemicals or other products you may be using in the agricultural community, specifically to potatoes of course.”

During the conference they discuss ways to be better or more prepared than the summer before.

“We had a hot summer and hot summers usually equate to some quality issues and so we are really trying to talk about those things.  Make sure everyone knows what’s going on and hopefully it doesn’t repeat itself next year.  At least we will have some information out there so people are aware of what they can do,” explained Olsen. 

But it wasn’t always that way.  Supplier Adrian Arp can remember back to the conference nearly 40 years ago.

“We certainly didn’t have the fancy booths we have now.  The price was zero though.  We didn’t have to pay anything for a while,” laughed Arp.  “I mean now it’s a little more than that, but it’s a worldwide conference.  It’s convenient for the growers to come here and get educated and see the equipment at Holt arena.  I have enjoyed the conference very much over the years and made a lot of friends.”

All the technology and knowledge in growing potatoes leads to the French fry which to me was one of the highlights of the event.  Beer battered fries and tater tots were served to those who attended.

I wasn’t the only one excited about the potato treats.  There was a line the time, with some who may be at the conference for the first time.

 “Whether you are new to potatoes or have been into potatoes a long time there are definitely things you interact with or see,” explained Olsen.

The last day of the potato conference will be Thursday, January 24 from 8am-12pm in the Student Union building at ISU. 

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