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Learning From Experience

Weather has always been in the forefront of human consciousness – man is aware of the surrounding climate almost every minute of every day. When we get up, we look outside to “see what it’s doing” weather-wise. We check weather reports at breakfast so we know what to wear when we step outside the door. We study long-term forecasts to find out what the weather will be like for the week.

Whether or not you agree with “global warming” or “climate change,” we can all agree changes in the weather are occurring. Indeed, during the past decade we’ve seen “once-in-a-millennium occurrences” of rainfall/flooding events. We’ve seen severe droughts in places like Texas, Australia, Russia and East Africa. Heat waves have hit Europe, A record number of tornadoes have ripped across the United States in recent years. Just this month, Hurricane Matthew left a path of destruction from the Caribbean to the Southeast U.S.

Closer to home, clean-up continued this month after the remnants of Hurricane Matthew battered Canada’s East Coast. This summer and fall, drought conditions and heat alerts were a common occurrence in the Maritimes and Ontario. In the meantime, a large swath of the Prairies experienced relentless rain and hail this summer. Then an early snowfall interfered with the last of the Prairie harvest.

Are these extreme events signals of a dangerous, human-made shift in the Earth’s climate? The debate is everywhere, from offices in our nation’s capital, to coffee shops from coast-to-coast. No one agrees on the exact reasons. In agriculture, what can be agreed upon is that we need to develop a smart approach to extreme weather occurrences by attacking all the risk factors, including designing crops that can survive drought or resist attack from pests; designing buildings that can resist floods and high winds; and developing policies that discourage people from building in dangerous places. Only then can we be prepared for whatever the weather throws at us.

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In this day and age of information overload, how can you ensure you get the most up-to-date and useful information available? It’s a question that farmers ponder on a daily basis, as they sort through their mail and emails and Twitter accounts. Who do you believe? Who has the most expertise and experience? Who do you trust?

Here at Spud Smart, we pride ourselves on our ability to root out the best sources of information for our stories. So starting this month, we’re excited to be presenting our first series of articles from Spud Smart INSIDERS, folks who are thought leaders in the potato industry.

INSIDERS’ presents new ideas and emerging concepts covering everything from seed treatments and biologicals, to data management and business leadership. The information presented by the INSIDERS will allow you to glean insights from top industry leaders, read expert advice and get takeaways that you can implement in your operation and, best of all, allow you to connect and engage with these thought leaders.

On page 25, we’ll introduce you to this month’s INSIDERS. Then starting on page 36, experts from across the industry will discuss issues that are top of mind, share technical advancements, talk about tips for success and provide perspective on policy. Readers can hone in on areas that are of particular interest, and get a snapshot of what’s happening and how it impacts the potato industry.

We hope this new special section of Spud Smart helps you with your decision-making in your operation, and encourages more communications within and outside of the industry.

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