Winter Potato Conference Is Coming: The Early Snapshot 

October 29, 2014
 
The delayed harvest is wrapping up, snow cover is predicted for parts of Michigan on Halloween, and winter is approaching fast. That means the 2015 Winter Potato Conference (WPC) is also not so far in the future, and it’s time to start thinking about it.

The dates are Feb. 10-12, Monday through Wednesday. The site is a new one for WPCs, Shanty Creek Resorts near Bellaire in Antrim County. The registration deadline has been moved forward compared to other years and has been set at Jan. 9.

A new web page devoted to the WPC is due to be completed shortly. All details will be included there along with registration forms and a secure section for online payments. Keep checking for when it is up and running.

Starting Out

The Monday schedule includes as usual some board meetings but also an afternoon program of general interest, a workshop on soil health, which is a topic of increasing interest among growers. The latest information from specialists will be discussed such as findings from a Michigan Potato Industry Commission research project secured through the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant competition. The workshop begins at 3:00 P.M. and is preceded by the board meeting of the Michigan Seed Potato Association (MSPA) at 11:00 A.M. and followed by the Commission’s meeting at 6:00 P.M. An 8:00 P.M. reception sponsored by the Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc. (PGMI), Political Action Committee is also on the docket.

Additional meetings will take up a portion of the Tuesday agenda. The Commission’s Variety Release Committee will begin its meeting at 7:00 A.M. The Commission’s annual meeting for growers will run from 10:30 A.M. to noon. Those of PGMI and MSPA are slated for 1:00 P.M. and 2:15 P.M. respectively. Sandwiched in between all those will be a general session from 9:00 to 10:30 A.M. Smaller breakout sessions covering a multitude of topics will conclude the afternoon educational schedule.

Millennials

The so-called Millennial Generation will get a lot of attention. Many of these younger people approach food from a different perspective from that of their elders, so opportunities for specialized marketing to these consumers await those who can capitalize on understanding them. The U.S. Potato Board (USPB) has been exploring the issue, including defining different segments and preferences within that age group, and (USPB) representatives will share their insights.

A wide assortment of topics will be featured in the breakout sessions, which carry over to Wednesday morning. Michigan State University researchers will bring up-to-date developments in their specialties. A unique technique for management improvement is also scheduled. State and national legislative issues will also be explored. The annual session on variety evaluation with tuber displays will run during Wednesday morning from 9:15 to 10:45.

Exhibits

The exhibit hall will be open Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. The reception for WPC sponsors will be held Tuesday evening starting at 7:00 and will feature comments by exhibitors.

WPC will wind up after the annual awards luncheon beginning at 12:30 P.M. on Wednesday. The scheduled speaker is Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development director Jamie Clover Adams.

The Winter Potato Conference promises to be interesting and productive. Attendees will be able to gain credits as RUP (Restricted Use Pesticide) applicators.

More WPC details will be issued in the weeks ahead as additional details are finalized, but for now it’s heads-up time as you plan your winter schedule. Be sure to include Feb. 10-12, 2015 at Shanty Creek. 
 

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