INSIDERSCrop ProtectionPotato School - Is It On Your Calendar?

Potato School – Is It On Your Calendar?


WHAT — Potato School is a half day, free-to-all virtual learning event hosted by TriCal Group for anyone in the potato business. Since soil-borne disease is our passion, Potato School focuses mostly on best practices, new research, and notable findings around key soil pathogens. Managing fusarium, rhizoctonia, black dot, nematodes, and a review of new analytical tools will be key topics of discussion.

WHY — Seemingly everyone offers extension-type learning opportunities. For us, the question wasn’t how do we create another learning opportunity; it was how do we really make it worth attendees’ time?

We’re excited to showcase perspective from leading potato researchers. Gary Secor (North Dakota State University professor of plant pathology) will delve into soil-borne diseases in potatoes, with a focus on the detrimental effects of fusarium and rhizoctonia. Steve Culman (in his new role as Washington State University’s Soil Health Endowed Chair) will review how to optimize crop sustainability and regenerative agricultural practices in potato systems.

Since one of the best ways to learn is from others who have walked the path before you, we’ll also be bringing in a grower panel who will be talking about their experiences with the Strike soil fumigation program.

Yes, I speak too. I spend days – weeks, really – thinking about how I can share what I know in a way that’s going to be entertaining, educational and useful. This year I’ll be covering what we are calling “functional sustainability” and how to use the Strike system to reach both your financial and regenerative agriculture goals.

One of the best parts of the event is that it’s live, which allows for interaction, questions and relevant-to-the-moment, meaningful discussion.

Potato School started out about a decade ago as an in-person learning opportunity for our own staff. It soon became the most popular and anticipated education and team-building activity of the year: everyone loved the hands-on learning and the opportunity to connect with colleagues, peers and – after a few years of attending – friends.

When COVID hit and upended all of our plans, there was a lot of disappointment that we couldn’t do the in-person event that we’d built. Eventually, someone (probably someone who, like all of us, had had a crash course in Zoom to stay in touch with family through COVID) said ‘Wait a minute: what if we do Potato School online and open it up to the world?’.

We’re now going into our third year of an online, open-to-all format and even I, who am not always a hugely high-tech guy, have to say it’s been fantastic. Response from industry has been extremely positive: there’s real demand for quality extension. We all miss the in-person school that has us in a field, digging potatoes, but this online format has allowed us to maintain high impact but build much bigger reach.

I hope you’ll join us.

WHEN — Tue, Dec. 13, 2022 at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST

HOW: Visit to sign up before Dec. 13.

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Chad Hutchinson
Chad Hutchinson
Global director of potato research and market support for TriCal Group - Chad Hutchinson received his degree in plant physiology/horticulture from Purdue University in 1997. He was on the faculty of the University of Florida and the state potato specialist for 10 years. Hutchinson has worked with potato growers around the world on topics ranging from variety selection, crop nutrition, soil health and soil disease suppression helping potato growers be successful.