Farmers are learning how to make their farms more efficient at the 2014 Maine Potato Conference. We dropped in yesterday to see what’s new and how one of the main issues, viruses, is being addressed.
Jim Dwyer, UMaine Cooperative Extension Crops Specialist says, “There’s some virus issues that we’ve got some latest research on that we’re working with not only the University of Maine but Cornel University.”
Some of that research is on the Potato Virus Y, aphids, bacteria and some new technology on post virus applications. It’s all part of the education factor that Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says is critical. More specifically though, is the marketing and competition.
Whitcomb says, “energy cost is very high and we’re competing with other parts of the country where they’ve got highly subsidized very low cost things like power – better sources of fuel and so forth so we just have to be looking at how we can help our growers survive in a marketplace that really wants the lowest price product – we can’t produce the highest product and be competitive.”
Some of the things to help with competition is the value of fertilizer. Whitcomb says that’s been a concern with farmers over the past 3 years. Better analysis and inspection of fertilizer is part of an industry initiative for county farmers Whitcomb says. And the research facility that the maine potato board is now in charge of is another benefit to county farmers.
Whitcomb, ” that is an important component of the industry last year as a result of the legislation that created the department the potato marketing improvement fund was moved more to Aroostook county, the actual administration of that was brought up under the maine potato board so i think growers feel like that’s closer to home.”
A trade show is also part of the conference for the event at the caribou inn and convention center.