Potato Grower

January 2020

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outbreak of World War I cut off German and Chilean sources of potash, researchers at Aroostook Farm began experimenting with alternatives such as seaweed, manure, wood ash and gypsum. A lot has changed since those early days, and research at Aroostook Farm has become an ever-evolving attempt to emphasize what growers in the state need most at any particular juncture. At 425 acres sitting just outside of Presque Isle, Maine, Aroostook Farm today is the largest of five experimental farms operated by the University of Maine. A potato storage research facility and 2,800-square-foot greenhouse are the crown jewels of the property, ensuring year-round research capabilities. Potato breeding has been a priority at the facility since the beginning, and it has earned a reputation as a hotbed for developing cultivars that have gone on to significantly impact the industry: Atlantic, Kennebec, Katahdin and Sebago can trace their roots back to northeastern Maine. In recent years, Aroostook Farm-bred Pinto Gold and Caribou Russet have been USDA potato breeder Robert Akeley, pictured here at the Aroostook Farm in 1939, was the primary breeder of the Kennebec variety. WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 25 Watering young potato seedlings with a fine spray in 1943. E.S. Schultz checks insect cages at the Aroostook Farm in 1945. Researcher Reiner Bonde inspects bacterial ring rot plots at the Aroostook Farm in 1945.

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