Monday, August 8, 2011

More From the Peace Garden State....

So getting back to my trip to North Dakota last week... On Wednesday we headed over to potato country in the Northeastern part of the state. As we headed East, there was less evidence of prevented planting, although it was still wet. There is a grower who used Pro-Germinator + Micro 500 in some strips in a circle of irrigated potatoes that we stopped to see. First we had an opportunity to look at some of the potato storage buildings. The picture below is looking down a storage unit. There are two sides like this in a storage building, with a total storage capacity of 250,000 hundredweight (or 100 lb units). See the metal tubes against the walls? Those are perforated and lay on the floor when potatoes are in the building and enable air to be pumped in to keep the storage temperature correct. Here are the holes that the tubes fit into. Temperature control is very important, andthere is a very complicated system to enable this.
Here are some of the fans that generate the air flow. The air blows through a mat system with refrigerated water flow for cooling, and I'm not sure how they heat it. But there are temperature control monitors all over and a big air conditioning/heating unit outside. When carefully loading the potatoes into the building, they keep track of what field each load comes from. This is to ensure quality controls. There were also louvers and other devices to control air flow. So I feel confident that potatoes are being well taken care of from harvest to market.

On the way out to look at the potato test, we passed this impressive field of irrigated corn. Only the irrigation had not been run all summer due to the excessive rain. All the way from Devils Lake we saw quite a bit of corn. North Dakota is really becoming a corn state now that short season hybrids have been developed.

Retired NDSU/U of Minnesota Potato Expert Duane Preston was our host on this day. He came prepared with a potato fork so that we could dig some samples of Russet Burbank potatoes from the Liquid and 10-34-0 strips. The comparison was 30 gal/A of 10-34-0 vs 15 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + Micro 500.

Potatoes from one comparison area are below, with the Liquid potatoes on the right. These were from four hills each. Hopefully another dig can be done closer to harvest in mid-September to get a better look at performance.

So that was it, a quick in and out to North Dakota, but it was a very interesting two days. I enjoyed my time and hope you liked seeing what I saw. North Dakota is a great agricultural state with such a variety of crops. It is a leader in putting food on America's table and I always enjoy going there and visiting with growers. I thank Kevin and Mitch for driving me around, and it was good to see Duane out in the potato field where he always feels at home.