On June 1, Tyler Thompson assumed the position of farm manager of the San Louis Valley Research Center. “My primary purpose as the manager is to both facilitate and aid the projects and researchers here on our campus,” he told The Produce News. “That support can come as many things to them. For example, at some moments I am campaigning for the importance of our farm and its research, I could be making preparations to coordinate a smooth harvest or planting season, or I could be the one turning a wrench to ensure that many of our tasks are being completed in a timely manner.”
Thompson was raised in Arrowsmith, IL, on a corn and soybean farm. “Our farm was 3,000 acres, and our crops are raised for ethanol, exports and as seed for the following year’s crop,” he said. “I studied medicine at Illinois State University before pursuing my master’s degree in crop sciences at the University of Illinois. Following that degree, I obtained my certified crop adviser’s license for the Tri-State region. With my degree and certification, I began my own agronomic consulting business advising farmers on various aspects of corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa production. Simultaneously, I helped my father, Gerald Thompson, run our operation in McLean and Ford counties.”
According to Thompson, the center has numerous projects being conducted simultaneously between five unique departments: potato breeding and selection, potato certification services, potato crop management, potato pathology and potato postharvest biology. Various project titles include “Developing PVY Resistant Potato Cultivars,” “Advancement of PCR Testing in the San Luis Valley,” “Nutrient and Plant Population Management in Potato Production,” “Potato Mop Top Virus and Powdery Scab: What is the Relationship between these Two Potato Diseases, and some Potential Management Strategies,” and “Reducing Potato Tuber Shrinkage in Storage.”
“Here at the research center, we cover nearly all aspects of potato production as it is imperative to make sound choices through the minute, three-month growing season, and the very lengthy nine-month storage season. All of our research is made very transparent to local growers and area consumers via publications, meetings, field days and private tour groups,” Thompson noted.
He said Professor Sastry Jayanty has been developing a pressure bruise predictability test for long-term potato storage that is based on tuber texture. “Commercial shippers in the San Luis Valley are using this test to prioritize the shipping order from their storage,” he added.
All of the center’s currently available potato lines have been published at http://potatoes.colostate.edu/. Thompson provided some information about new varieties. He said, “CO05068-1RU is a new advanced selection that went out with growers this year after its eighth year in the field. It is a high-yielding dual-purpose russet with a high percent of U.S. No. 1 tubers and can be used for the fresh market or for processing. CO05037-2R/Y and CO05037-3W/Y are fresh market, sister lines that also went out with growers this year. Both have a small size profile and attractive tuber type with good skin finish.
“Some of these lines are already out for growers,” he continued. “They are trying them this year, and they will evaluate those varieties this winter.”
On a personal note, Thompson said he plans to marry his fiancee, Suzanne, in Athens, GA, next June.