John O’Connell

Eastern Idaho Reporter
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Commodity groups urge extension of looming rail safety deadline

- Several lawmakers and agricultural organizations from the Northwest are advocating for a bill to extend a deadline for railroads to implement safety upgrades, hoping to avoid freight disruptions.

USPB promotion aims to restore Japanese fry demand

- The U.S. Potato Board has come up with a plan to restore declining demand for frozen U.S. french fries.

Group has plan to educate students about driving jobs

- The Idaho Trucking Association is planning a new program to educate school children about opportunities in the trucking industry, hoping to help with a truck driver shortage that's growing worse every year.

Report: Truck driver shortage getting worse

- A recent study by the American Trucking Association shows a national shortage of truck drivers is growing mroe acute.

FERC staff document opposes dam in Idaho’s Oneida Narrows

- Staff with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposed construction of a new storage reservoir on the Bear River in southeast Idaho in a recently issued draft enivornmental impact statement.

Idaho reports variable Burbank quality

- Idaho potato industry sources say there's a high degree of variability in the quality of the state's Russet Burbank crop this season.

Sources: TPP wouldn’t hurt no-cost U.S. sugar program

- The U.S. sugar industry says the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement would allow more foreign sugar into the U.S. but not enough to adversely impact the market and the nation's no-cost sugar program.

Potato truck returns to Idaho from fourth tour

- The Idaho Potato Commission's Great Big Idaho Potato Truck is back in Idaho to wrap up another national tour.

Spud farmer uses crop to support grandkids’ small business

- Ronald Esplin says it hasn't cost him anything to allow his grandchildren to fill boxes with Ranger Russets from his conveyor to sell direct to friends in Boise and at the Pocatello farmers market, but it's helped them rais...

Ironman record holder to promote Idaho potatoes

- A Utah man known as the Iron Cowboy, who holds multiple world records in iron man racing, will promote Idaho potatoes in a healthy lifestyle and raise funds for an organization that promotes adoptions of foreign children bo...

Idaho Falls grower to join IPC board

- Idaho Falls farmer James Hoff has been selected as the newest Idaho Potato Commission board member.

Growers report painless water, energy savings through irrigation method

- An irrigation method developed to save water and power in dry farming regions has exceeded expectations in early commercial trials.

New FFA chapter, ag classes a hit in Idaho county

- A technical high school in Bonneville County has added the only agricultural curriculum in the county, as well as its first FFA chapter in more than 40 years.

Harvest break provides crucial labor for Idaho spud farmers

- For some small Eastern Idaho farmers, high school harvest breaks provide a crucial source of labor.

Idaho moisture outlook better in south than north

- An Idaho hydrology expert says conditions are favoring another dry winter in Northern Idaho but the possibility of good moisture in Southern Idaho.

Grant to help Idaho cities, industry curb groundwater use

- A new Idaho Department of Water Resources grant aims to help smal cities and industrial water users cut back on groundwater use to help stabilize a declining Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer.

Aerial cloud seeding planned in Upper Snake

- The Idaho Department of Water Resources has agreed to share costs with Idaho Power of contracting for a plain to conduct cloud seeding in the Upper Snake River Basin.

Officials learn from trap crop escape

- Litchi tomato, an exotic plant that's being planted under a special permit with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture for biological control of pale cyst nematode, has been found outside of its intended field.

Different kind of farming focuses on soil health

- Farmers are reporting large improvements in soil health by linking together a host of practices intended to mimic nature and add diversity to their cropping systems.

Spud leaders hope to continue breeding collaboration

- A collaborative effort involving cooperation from the major U.S. potato breeding programs to identify potatoes low in acrylamide, which may be linked to cancer, is winding up, but participants hope to continue working toget...

Sheriff’s divers help Idaho farmers manage noxious weed

- Search and rescue divers with the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office are helping irrigators in Idaho Falls rid their reservoir and canals of invasive flowering rush.

Eastern Idaho festival celebrates spud harvest

- Residents of Shelley, Idaho, hosted a celebration of the potato harvest, called Spud Day, which is in its 87th year.

UI ‘bakery’ plays key role in wheat breeding

- University of Idaho's Wheat Quality Lab helps the wheat breeding program choose experimental lines with the best end-use qualities.

Irrigators concerned about Ririe releases

- Upper Snake River canal irrigators say flood-control releases from Ririe Reservoir are excessive and could result in water shortage next season.

Amalgamated reporting strong early sugar beet harvest

- At the beginning of beet harvest, growers say sugar levels appear to be up and yields could set a record.

Idaho spud growers report big size, fewer tubers

- Idaho potato farmers are reporting fewer, but larger potatoes at the start of harvest, prompting consumer bag prices to rise and cartons to drop.

Software aids wildfire recovery plans

- An Idaho State University professor has developed a computer mapping system that should speed up wildfire recovery efforts by agencies including the Bureau of Land Management.

Potato Council helps improve bee habitat

- The National Potato Council is encourging its growers to take steps toward improving pollinator and monarch butterfly habitat to show they're being proactive as EPA mulls pesticide restrictions to help the species.

Research opens door to new types of insecticides

- A Cornell University professor has demonstrated insecticides that target only specific bugs by turning off specific genes are more durable in the field than previously suspected.

Strong dollar, port slowdown reduce U.S. potato exports

- U.S. potato exports dropped for the first time in a decade, according to to new estimates.

Locally raised corn wins best food at Idaho fair

- An Eastern Idaho farmer's sweet corn, doctored with secret sauce and special spices, was voted the best food sold at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.

Rancher overwhelmed by grizzly bear attacks on cattle

- Grizzly bears have been feeding on cattle along the banks of Henry's Lake in Eastern Idaho, and one rancher believes officials have taken too little action to protect his livestock.

Farm Bureau sponsors live milking for kids at Idaho fair

- The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation sponsored an event at the Eastern Idaho State Fair during which children — and some adults — tried milking a live cow.

IPC to cover shipper costs of using heart health checkmark

- The Idaho Potato Commission has renegotiated its contract with the American Heart Association for the rights to use its heart healthy checkmark and plans to use the savings to cover costs for spud shippers who add it to the...

UI Extension prioritizes forage in East Idaho

- University of Idaho is asking Eastern Idaho Extension educators to increase their focus on forage production.

UI to test new water filtration system on dairies

- A University of Idaho professor who developed technology that removes pollutants from water and saves the nutrients for fertilizer will soon start testing on dairy lagoons.

Weather helps E. Idaho avoid wildfire outbreak

- During a busy fire season throughout Idaho and the Northwest, Eastern Idaho has been nearly fire free, enabling its wildfire personnel to assist in other areas.

Grant aims to improve Madison County soil

- The Madison Soil & Water Conservation District is in the first year of a grant to quantify the economics of how various soil-health practices affect fields on five Eastern Idaho farms.

Zebra chip found in Idaho commercial field

- Idaho has confirmed its first tuber from a commercial field infected with zebra chip disease in three years, crop researchers say.

Amalgamated works to increase sugar in each beet

- Amalgamated Sugargrowers in Eastern Idaho are experimenting witih high-sugar varieties from out of the area that don't have resistance to curly top virus, a major problem within the state.

Eastern Idaho reports strong quinoa yields

- A businessman experimenting with quinoa in 14 Eastern Idaho fields says yields and quality have exceeded expectations this season.

Pea buyers look to Eastern Idaho growers

- Growers see promise in peas as a rotation crop with wheat, though finding buyers has been a challenge.

Well irrigators pleased with shorter renewable power contracts

- Idaho ground water irrigators support a recent order by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission shortening the mandatory length of certain contracts utilities must enter for renewable energy.

Experts offer ways to limit late blight losses

- Late blight experts have hosted workshops to educate potato growers how to properly store their crops to avoid exacerbating late blight infections in storage.

‘Oddball’ spuds gaining interest

- A source with SunRain Potato Varieties says oddball potato varieties are the latest trend in the growing fresh, specialty market.

Idaho Grain Producers head to join Simpson’s staff

- Travis Jones, the executive director of Idaho Grain Producers Association, has taken a position as a staff member with Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

‘Trap crop’ sees use in PCN program

- Idaho's pale cyst nematode erradication program has began utilizing a nightshade family member, litchi tomato, on a cmmercial scale as a so-called trap crop to stimulate cyst hatching in the absence of a viable host.

UI cereals educator learning regional grain challenges

- University of Idaho's new eastern Idaho cereals director has been meeting with growers and hopes to help them identify crop problems in their fields.

Idaho late blight outbreak now widespread

- Late blight has become widespread in Idaho, leading experts to shorten their fungicide spraying recommendations to every five to seven days in counties in which it is present.

East Idaho grower tests winter clover as cover crop

- An Eastern Idaho grower is testing a new, cold-tolerant clover species as a winter cover crop option for the growing region.