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‘Papa Cacho’ potatoIn a country where french fries reign supreme, how does an organic grower find great-tasting potatoes that not only appeal to chefs but also thrive under organic conditions? With more than 60 percent of potatoes headed for processing plants, breeders have found the market slow to accept new varieties – even varieties best adapted to the Northeast, says Walter S. De Jong, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University.

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Ara Dedeian, a POW during WW II
Numbers don’t lie: 28 percent of American and other prisoners of the Japanese died in captivity during World War II, and 90 percent of the survivors needed to be hospitalized after they were repatriated. Only 4 percent of American, British or Canadian prisoners of the Germans died in captivity, and only about 10 percent of the survivors had to be hospitalized before they could return to their families or their bases. The single key factor in POW survival was neither the guards nor the climate: The German POW diet was based on potatoes, while the Japanese was based on rice.

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Yukon Gold potatoes have intermediate tolerance to this pest, while Red Norland and other red potatoes are very susceptible.

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In November 2006, the Maine Technology Institute awarded a Seed Grant to InterfaceFABRIC (formerly Guilford of Maine) to evaluate the feasibility of using Maine potatoes and other crops to meet the growing demand for polylactic acid (PLA) to produce bio-based plastic products.

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Black scurf on potatoesIf you have ever had lots of little black, irregular lumps on the skin of your potatoes that resemble soil but will not wash off, then you have seen black scurf. This is a disease that is caused by a fungus called Rhizoctonia solani. The black specks are just a cosmetic problem, in that they do not affect the eating quality of the potato. However, the disease has other symptoms.

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Two articles: New Potato Makes Organic Growing Easier; Common Weed Hosts Potato Blight

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Greensprouted potatoesLast spring I was intrigued when Andy Leed, an upstate New York grower, mentioned that he was “greensprouting” his potatoes. He’d been growing table-crop spuds for many years and, frustrated by the lack of organic seed tubers in smaller sizes, decided to diversify, planting part of his acreage to production of certified organic seed potatoes.

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Jim Gerritsen, a MOFGA-certified organic grower at Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, gave the following address at Slow Food – Terra Madre in Turino, Italy, on October 28, 2006.

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Congratulations to Jim and Megan Gerritsen of WoodPrairie Farm, a MOFGA-certified organic vegetable farm in Bridgewater.

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Once upon a time Maine was covered by ice a mile high. Every school kid knows that. What most of them don’t know is that even on the fringes of North America’s ice sheet, and in the cold, high Andes of Peru, a nutritious root vegetable called the potato provided people with food. Belonging to the same group of plants as nightshade, its hardiness made it the equivalent of corn, the New World’s other starchy staple grown in warmer areas.

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Dr. Ron Morse of Virginia Tech has developed a system for growing no-till organic potatoes. In September, he makes raised beds, adds lime, phosphorus and potassium as needed, and sows winter rye.

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