Friday, April 12, 2013

Famous Potato-Land

So on Monday my fertilizer mission took me to Spokane, WA to meet with a contract researcher on some plotwork in that area.  Cal from Area Manager Ag Enterprise and Sales Account Mgr (SAM) Jeff were there too.  Unfortunately there was no action other than sitting around a table, so sadly, no pictures.  But there should be when I return this summer.  Tuesday I went to Twin Falls, ID and was met by AgroLiquid Field Agronomist Alan and SAM Bruce.  We went to visit with a contract researcher in near-by Rupert to go over our proposed plotwork.  There will be some potato and sugarbeet plots somewhere around here.
Then we went up the road to the Northeast near Rexburg to see a spring wheat grower trial with AgroLiquid. This field was planted several days ago, and there is a flag divider out there that is hard to see.  But you should be able to see the Liquid advantage from here.  Pretty cool to see mountains from your field.
On Wednesday morning we were going to go visit some actual spring wheat planting going on with Liquid, but it was so cold that the ground was partially frozen and didn't work up well.  So we put that off until the afternoon.  But it gave Alan and Bruce a chance to show me around the area where they both live.  Right close to Alan's house outside of Rexburg is a big stretch of sand dunes.  It's nearly 30 miles long and has some pretty tall hills that are popular for running sand vehicles of all types.  There are also volcanic rock outcrops and cinder hills like this one.  Pretty cool place.
To the East towards the Wyoming line is where most of the state's seed potatoes are grown.  These are fertile fields with deep soil, but a short growing season.  Here is a view of the Teton Mountains from such a field.
A little more to the East.  These fields won't be planted anytime soon.
We stopped by a seed farm where they were unloading stored seed potatoes for distribution to growers.  Probably not everyone knows that you don't just plant left over potatoes for the crop, but specially grown seed stock.  I was amazed at how tall and deep the pile was in this potato cellar, as they are called.  They had a mobile conveyor.  Bruce and Alan observe, keeping hands in pockets to avoid contamination.  Of the potatoes.
Here is the conveyor bringing the potatoes out for sorting. 
The conveyor takes them up to a sorter.  Some of the smaller ones fall through some rollers and are loaded onto the truck at the right.  These are the valuable ones that are of a size that can be planted as they are.  Larger ones that don't fall through the rollers will have to be cut to size for planting.  And the real small ones fall out the bottom and are put into a cull truck, along with ones that that are bad that are picked out by workers on that sorter ahead.  They were plenty busy and trucks were coming in and out to get loaded up.  Potato planting will be very soon.

We drove by the Spud Drive-In movie theater in Driggs, Idaho.  It has been there since 1953.  Notice on the insert picture that they are trying to Save The Spud, as they now need a digital projector since most movies are no longer on film.  So go to the website and buy a T-shirt or something.  I hate to imagine a world with no Spud!
By this time we were close to the Wyoming border and Jackson.  So we went up and over the Teton Pass.  It's 8432 feet elevation at the top.  The area ski resorts are closed by now.  But at the top of the pass there were people carrying skis and snowboards. It was pretty cold, in the 30's. Evidently if you are young and in great shape you can climb to the top of this mountain and ski down the side and through a narrow chute to the road.  Those very tiny dots at the top are people on skis.  Climbing through snow and carrying skis at that elevation?  I'll wait for the movie.
If you have ever been to Jackson, Wyoming, you have no doubt seen the four elk antler arches at the corners of the town square.  Pretty impressive.  There is a winter refuge area for elk nearby.
After lunch on the way back we stopped at the site of the Teton Dam collapse just East of Rexburg.  I had vague recollection of such an event, but anyone who was here when it happened on June 5, 1976 can remember it well, including Alan and Bruce.  The project was started in 1972 to create a reservoir on the Teton River for flood control, irrigation, power generationa and recreation.  It was an earthen dam, that in retrospect, should never have been built.  There were lots of problems with the site and buiilding material.  It was finished in fall of 1975 and was 305 feet high and 3200 feet across.  Just prior to the collapse, there were wet spots that turned into leaks and finally disaster.  It released 300,000 acre-feet of water and took 5 hours to drain.  It flooded a number of small towns and also Rexburg, killing 11 people.  It was never re-built.  And as an article said: "Nature Bats Last."
When we got to where they were using Liquid on spring wheat, there was a flag at the split.  Again, even though just planted, the difference is so obvious. 
Here they are still planting, and have quite a ways yet to go.  I liked their sytem of working the ground and seed-bed preparaton in front of the drill.  It is with a Parma Rollaharrow.  It has front and rear packer rollers with 4 rows of S-Tines in between.  It's made in Parma, ID.  I had not see one before, but I like it.
Well my time in Idaho was drawing to a close.  Bruce and Alan are either being really friendly, or are glad to see me go.
When I was coming home Thursday morning, the pilot of my connecting flight in Salt Lake City said that we had to sit for a little while to allow the blizzard to move through Minneapolis.  What???  Blizzard???  On April 11???  When I changed planes at MSP, there was at least 6 inchees of snow on the ground.  The snow pushers were working like crazy to get it all cleared away.  This runway was closed while they were working.
Crazy weather.  I say that every year.  Completely the opposite of last year.  It rained every day at the NCRS while I was gone, and there are flooded fields everywhere.  Wish we could spread it around to those that need it.  Anyway, if you have made it this far, thanks for your attention, and I look forward to my return later this growing season to provide a progress report.