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Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association is promoting potatoes

By
Keith Loria

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association is charged with helping growers conduct and utilize research and technology, garner government support, produce environmentally-sound research and stay in touch with consumers.

WPVGA also supports the Healthy Grown program and sustainable farming practices that use environmentally sound crop inputs, integrated pest management techniques and promotes the conservation of water, resources and Wisconsin’s native ecosystems.

“The association helps growers stay up-to-date with food safety requirements by organizing training,” said Dana Rady, director of promotion, communication and consumer education for the Antigo, WI-based organization. “We help promote the industry as a whole to consumers by encouraging them to buy local and educating them about the nutrition potatoes naturally provide. We work with state and local government officials to ensure that what is occurring legislatively is beneficial for Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers as a whole.”

On average, Wisconsin grows 63,000 acres annually. The Badger State also produces the most potato varieties of any state and is third in the nation for potato production and the No. 1 supplier east of the Mississippi.

“We will get to our 2022 end-of-the-year crop report in the next few months, but the 2021 crop reflected about 37 percent of our total acres went to the fresh market, followed by chips, frozen fry and last but not least, seed,” Rady said.

“Wisconsin grows mostly Russets, reds, yellows, whites and petites or little potatoes.”

This year, the WPVGA are working with the Healthy Grown program, the Wisconsin Spudmobile, and advertising initiatives on television and other mediums.

“We also are participating in a number of sponsorships such as with Mad Dog and Merrill, the grilling duo from the TV show, Midwest Grill’n,” Rady said. “Additionally, we have a partnership with Gabe Sommers Racing and with the Stevens Point Youth Area Football, Farming for the Future Foundation and Kids from Wisconsin. We are further continuing to work with registered dietician Sarah Agena on helping to reiterate the health benefits potatoes naturally provide.”

Overall, this year’s potato crop is looking strong with good quality, though it has remained about a week to 10 days behind schedule. The lack of heat units at various points during the growing season have slowed bulking, but growers are not anticipating significant challenges as a result.

“Wisconsin is in the perfect region for growing potatoes,” Rady said. “Between the climate and recharge capabilities, in addition to the availability of irrigation systems, Wisconsin is in a much coveted geographic location.”

The different soil types across the state allow for the production of not only different sectors of potato products (i.e. seed, fresh, frozen process, chip, etc.), but also different varieties.

“For example, the silt loam soil in Langlade County, which also happens to be the state soil, is very conducive to the production of seed potatoes,” Rady said. “And some regions in the southern part of the state have muck soil (thick, rich, black) that provides the perfect home for red potatoes.”

WPVGA recommends to retailers to showcase the growers who provide consumers’ food and that will lead to bigger sales.

“This can occur in signage, pictures and sharing stories of the growers and their farms that consumers can look at while they shop,” Rady said. “Younger generations today want to know where their food comes from and how it’s produced. It’s also beneficial when retail stores feature images or samples of prepared potato dishes. Research has shown that consumers are more likely to buy a product if they are inspired by seeing images of how it’s produced.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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