Potato harvest may have come to an end across the state, but there is still work to be done, especially when it comes to certifying seed potatoes. Over the years, Montana has risen to the forefront as one of the nation’s premier seed potato producers.
Seed potatoes in Montana undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are of the highest quality and free of disease. During the summer months, workers from the Montana Potato Lab scour the state collecting samples from seed potato plants, bringing them back to the lab in Bozeman, Mont., for testing. The MSU Potato Lab collected a total of 3.4 million samples across 10,000 acres this past summer.
Even though the summer is when seed potatoes are tested and evaluated in Montana, there are still a lot of questions that need answered. A post-harvest grow out – a final assessment – is conducted to answer those questions.
“We want our state to keep having superior quality and to do that we have to do a mass amount of testing. We do this because we want to ensure if a potential outbreak were to occur, we would be able to respond very quickly,” Hystad stated.
Montana growers are the driving force behind all of this testing. In fact, the Montana Seed Potato Certification Program is entirely grower funded through acreage and registration fees.
Because of the grower initiative, Montana is starting to make a name for itself in the world of seed potato certification as the lab continues to implement new methodology.