Growers to Meet With Chip Industry Tour Guests Sept. 16-18     

August 26, 2015    

The detailed schedule has been set for the Sept. 16-18 Chip Processor Tour that brings in buyers of Michigan chipping varieties to see what the Michigan potato industry is doing to meet their present and future needs.

Growers are invited to join all or part of the tour, which will provide plenty of time for discussion of potato issues of concern to both producers and end users. A reception honoring the guests Wed., Sept. 16 kicks off the event with food and beverages served between 7:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M. at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on the Michigan State University (MSU) campus in East Lansing.

If you’re planning on attending the reception, come a half hour early for an added treat. At 6:30 P.M. a behind-the-scenes tour of the Breslin Center, the home court of the MSU basketball team, will begin. Ever wonder where the locker rooms are and what they look like? Or where the staging facilities for concerts are and how they’re mobilized for musical events to accommodate up to 15,000 attendees at a time? It’s not about potatoes, but this tour within the bigger tour will provide a view of some of the infrastructure critical to the functioning of one of the largest university basketball and entertainment centers in the nation.

The potato tour itself begins Thursday morning with the bus leaving MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center early for Montcalm and Mecosta counties. Stops have been scheduled precisely so that growers not participating in the full tour can drop in at particular sites to meet the visitors and learn about the research taking place there.

The first stop is at 9:30 A.M. at Andersen Brothers, 2583 Schmied Rd., Blanchard, where the topic of interest is advanced sorting technology. That’s followed by a look at new storage technology at Crooks Farms, 5450 Musson NW, Stanton, beginning at 10:45. Lunch is scheduled for noon along with discussion and viewing of storage trials at the Michigan Potato Industry Commission’s demonstration storages just west of Entrican (4725 McBride Rd., Lakeview).

The afternoon schedule begins at 1:30 at a Sandyland Farms field located on Black Rd. south of Lake Montcalm Rd. near Howard City. The subject is the “superstar” varieties being tested there including those that are in the Snack Food Association trials. The last two Thursday events, beginning at 3:00 P.M., are at Sackett Potatoes, 7335 Seven Mile Rd., Mecosta, which has made plots available for the potato industry’s long-range soil-health initiative. In addition, variety trials are being conducted at the farm that are aimed at scab resistance.

After an overnight stop in Kalamazoo the rest of the Chip Processor Tour takes place starting at 8:30 A.M. Friday, Sept. 18 north of Three Rivers at a Walther Farms field on Heimbach Rd. about a half mile east of U.S. 131. The field is the site of MSU variety trials and national stem-end trials. Afterwards the bus returns to East Lansing.

Mike Wenkel, the Commission’s executive director, said, “Growers and industry partners are welcome to attend any portion of the program. We would ask, however, if the stop includes food, that they let the Commission office know so that we can be sure we have enough food.”

So far the guest list of processors and brokers includes representatives of Better Made Snack Foods, Detroit; E. K. Bare and Sons, Bird-in-Hand, PA; Frito-Lay, Plano, TX; Great Lakes Potato Chips, Traverse City, MI; Shearer’s Foods, Massillon, OH; and Utz Quality Foods, Hanover, PA. Other persons planning to participate in the tour represent the J.R. Simplot Co., Boise, ID and its biotechnology-developed Innate™ line of potatoes; the U.S. Potato Board, Denver, CO; Michigan Farm Bureau, Lansing; and AIS Ag Consulting, Dallas, TX. MSU potato specialists will also join the tour to provide their expertise to the guests and growers.

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