Looking at the challenges and regulations facing potato seed production.
For our annual flower and vegetable issue, Seed World talks to four vegetable farmers about the challenges the face and what they are looking forward to in 2018.
In 2013, Jeff Bragg and his wife and business partner, Sandy, created Everything Potatoes Inc., an organic seed potato business supplying multi-varietal options to organic commercial potato producers and home gardeners, alike.
Seed World: What drew you to agriculture and how did you begin your operation?
Jeff Bragg: I was drawn in by my father as a youngster. Before massive industrial agriculture we were all in vibrant rural communities and I was immersed in it at birth. However, I worked so hard as a young man that I wanted to get away from it! That didn’t work, as I needed a job after marrying my wife, Sandy. I apprenticed as an agronomist in the Magic Valley of Idaho, with Tremblay Consulting. The practical side of agronomy was taught to me and then while returning to college, took my first potato science course. With what my father had taught me, with my new agronomy mentoring, and learning potatoes from a college professor, I was hooked on agriculture
SW: What are the biggest challenges facing organic seed potato production?
JB:The biggest challenge is starting with clean seedstock at the beginning and poor rotations. Seed potatoes take adhering soil with them and can infect other soils if diseases are present on the tubers skin. And resistance to commonly used fungicides keeps many disease cycles going. Finding the right soils and rotations was key to overcoming these challenges.
SW: How, if at all, have regulations impacted your production methods?
JB: As a conventional agronomist years back I was worried about regulations more than now. We start with tissue culture, long rotations in a secluded part of Idaho, and have found this to be key to our quality. We are unaffected by regulations at this point.
SW: What are three goals you have for 2018?
JB: Work with people that we enjoy being around, scale our business up to a profitable level, and help as many people from different walks of life as we can.
SW: After a stressful day, how do you unwind and relax?
JB: I unwind by cooking our different varietals of organic potatoes, reading, and being with my partner, Sandy Bragg!