Dr. Steve Johnson, a full professor with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, hasn't spent much time in the County recently. Instead, he's been in Australia during their summer, working with and educating their local farmers.
(Steve) Well I think it's been very successful. The potato growers in Australia I've dealt with are receptive, eager to learn, and want to be engaged about learning more about potato production.
One local potato grower Dr. Johnson has worked with quite a bit with is Dr. Nigel Crump, General Manager of an organization called AuSPICA.
(Nigel) It's run by industry for industry. We have no affiliation with government and purely do seed certification and sharing of knowledge with growers.
Dr. Crump and Dr. Johnson are sometimes hours apart in Australia, but work together daily.
(Steve) Nigel provides much of the needs assessment and I develop and deliver programs targeted to these needs. I think it's a pretty good partnership.
As part of the seed certification process, both potato specialists head to the field to test for viruses such as potato virus Y.
(Nigel) We've done this for the last five or six years. The reason for it is because the sampling or the symptoms of the disease do not show on the crop. So leaf testing is the only way we can actually show the levels of PVY in a crop.
Dr. Johnson will be wrapping up his work this month, and hopes to bring success stories for testing potatoes from the warmth of Australia to our County fields when the snow melts. Anthony Macari, NewsSource 8.