One of the most significant ways to recognize outstanding contributions to the potato industry and to our organization, The Potato Association of America, is the awarding of Honorary Life Membership (HLM). This is the highest award bestowed upon an individual by the PAA. Each year at the Annual Meeting of the PAA this award is given to deserving individuals and is considered by many attendees the highlight of the banquet.
Russell E. Ingham
Dr. Russell E. Ingham is an emeritus professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Biology at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1974, a master’s degree in Zoology at Texas A&M in 1977, and a Ph.D. in Zoology and Entomology at Colorado State University in 1981.
His dissertation research, which documented the benefits of bacterial- and fungal-feeding nematodes on nutrient cycling and plant growth, was published in Ecological Monographs and is considered one of the landmark publications in nematode ecology. During a four-year postdoc in soil ecology at the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory of Colorado State University, he studied the roles of root-feeding nematodes as primary consumers in mixed grass prairies and determined that nematodes consumed more plant biomass than vertebrate herbivores in that system such as bison and prairie dogs. Dr. Ingham joined the Botany and Plant Pathology Department at Oregon State University in 1985 and has studied the biology and management of plant-pathogenic nematodes on several crops.
After several years of research on peppermint he and former graduate student, Kathy Merrifield, summarized their work in a 39-page manual on Biology and Management of Nematodes in Mint. This has been widely used by growers and is currently available as a PDF file on the internet. Dr. Ingham and colleagues at the Hermiston Agriculture Research and Extension Center (HAREC) were the first to report damage from stubby-root nematodes (SRN) to storage and dehy onion in the Columbia Basin. Dr. Ingham worked out the relationship between nematode densities and yield reduction for different size classes of onions and determined the effectiveness and economic benefit from the use of a relatively inexpensive nematicide (Vydate oxamyl).
Dr. Ingham has spent much of his career working with various colleagues on nematode problems in potato caused by Columbia root-knot nematodes (CRKN) and SRN which vectors tobacco rattle virus to cause corky ringspot disease (CRS). He and Phil Hamm at HAREC determined that double fumigation with Telone and metam sodium would provide excellent control of tuber damage from CRKN and CRS when either product alone may not. Furthermore, they determined that if both fumigants were use d in combination that control was still satisfactory if the rate of each was reduced. This practice was widely adapted and has saved potato growers millions of dollars in reduced tuber damage and reduced product cost. Dr. Ingham, Phil Hamm and others also determined that injecting metam sodium into the soil through shanks instead of through irrigation water as was the industry standard, provided much better control of CRKN and CRS. This was an important finding since shanking in metam sodium requires less of buffer zone than when it is applied via chemigation. Dr. Ingham and graduate student Nick David developed a protocol for timing of application of Vydate for control of tuber damage from CRKN based on nematode developmental degree-days that has been widely adopted in the Columbia Basin and Klamath Basin as well as other potato growing areas. Similarly, Dr. Ingham and student Brian Charlton worked out an effective protocol for using Vydate to control CRS.
Dr. Ingham has lead efforts that have include several of his colleagues that have documented that altering crop rotation sequences to those that include poor or nonhosts to CRKN can substantially reduce the number of tubers damaged from CRKN. Central to this effort has been Dr. Ingham’s research on green manure cover crops. He determined that CRKN could be reduced substantially by growing and incorporating sudangrass, rapeseed, mustard or radish as a green manure crop before planting potato. However, work in the San Luis Valley (SLV) of Colorado and with Brian Charlton in the Klamath Basin determined that sudangrass was an excellent host for SRN and actually made CRS worse. However, varieties of radish were effective at reducing population densities of SRN and tuber damage from CRS. Potato growers in the SLV in particular, have readily adopted the recommendations of Dr. Ingham for using green manure crops and have nearly eliminated the need for fumigation for nematode control as a result.
Dr. Ingham’s recent research efforts have been in collaboration with Inga Zasada, USDA-ARS on the biology of a new cyst nematode, Globodera ellingtonae, that was described in 2012 from Powell Butte, Oregon and two grower fields in Idaho. Other efforts have supported Vidyasagar Sathuvalli’s program at HAREC on breeding resistance of potato to CRKN. Dr. Ingham has 50 refereed journal publications, 10 book chapters, 32 extension or related publications and 59 contributions in conference proceedings. He has been an author on 83 published abstracts and has made over 100 research and extension presentations to growers. He has been an active member of the Society of Nematologists (SON) since 1979, serving on several committees including chair of Ecology, Education and Computer committees and as a member of the Executive Board (1997-1999, 2004-2011) and Editorial Board (1991-1994). He served as Treasurer from 2004-2007 and Vice President, President-elect, President, and Past President from 2007-2011. He was an executive board member of the N.A. Cobb Nematology Foundation from 2004-2007 and 2009-2011. He was Co-chair of Local Arrangements Committee for the 2010 annual PAA meeting and the Local Arrangements Chair for the SON 50th Anniversary Meeting in 2011. Dr. Ingham also supervises the Oregon State University Nematode Testing Service which processes several hundred nematode samples for growers each year.
Greg grew up in the small town of Washburn in northern Maine. He worked on his family’s potato, grain, and beef cattle farm prior to attending college. Those early years working on the family farm alongside his grandfather, father, and brothers instilled a strong love of potatoes, agriculture, and the outdoors. His career plan was to attend college and then return to the family farm—however, fate intervened and plans were revised. Greg attended the University of Maine in Orono and received a B.S. degree in Soil Science in 1980. During his senior year in college, Greg met with long-time PAA member and HLM Hugh Murphy and discussed potential career path changes. “Murph” suggested getting some experience conducting agricultural research and offered a graduate research assistantship. Greg accepted the assistantship, which involved conducting crop management research on potatoes. The assistantship provided broad exposure to field research in potato agronomy, weed control, and variety development. He received his M.S. degree in Plant & Soil Sciences in 1982 from the University of Maine. Greg then did his Ph.D. research in Agronomy (Crop Physiology) studying carbohydrate translocation in maize. He received his Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University in 1985. The years in graduate school provided Greg a broad background in agronomy, plant physiology, statistics, and excellent opportunities to learn and develop research skills. During 1981, as a graduate student at the University of Maine, Greg attended his first PAA meeting (Charlottetown, PEI) and won an award in the graduate student paper competition. He was struck by the scenic beauty of PEI, the depth of potato research and extension represented at the PAA meeting, and by the welcoming nature of the PAA membership.
In 1985, Greg returned to the University of Maine and took a faculty position in the department of Plant & Soil Sciences. The position was 80% research on agronomy and crop physiology, mostly on potatoes, but it also included research on grains and other crops that could be grown in rotation with potato. The position provided the opportunity to work closely with growers to help develop rotation crop, soil and nutrient management, supplemental irrigation, and variety recommendations. Conducting field research and working with growers were two of Greg’s favorite activities as a University faculty member. The position also involved 20% teaching and over the year’s Greg taught undergraduate classes in potato science, crop ecology and physiology, and graduate-level classes on similar topics as well as in experimental design and applied statistical analysis. Greg has authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed and extension-type articles over the years, frequently presented research results at grower meetings, and has mentored many PhD- and MS-level graduate research projects while serving as thesis committee chair or a committee member. Greg served as the Chair of the Department of Plant, Soil, & Environmental Sciences for five years and expanded his research role in 2007 when he took over leadership of the University of Maine Potato Breeding Program. For his entire career, Greg has participated in multi-disciplinary potato breeding and variety development research along with many valued collaborators in the eastern regional group, as well as collaborators from other programs throughout North America. He has participated in the release of many valuable potato cultivars, including Andover, Caribou Russet, Eva, Hamlin Russet, Harley Blackwell, Keuka Gold, Lamoka, Lehigh, Peter Wilcox, Pike, Pinto Gold, Waneta, and many more.
Greg has been an active participant in the Potato Association of America over the years and has rarely missed an annual meeting. He served on the PAA Executive Committee from 2002 to 2005 and was President at the 2004 PAA Meeting in Scottsbluff, NE. He served on the Finance Committee for many years and was Finance Committee Chair from 1995 to 2002. Greg served on the ad-hoc committee that helped modernize the American Journal of Potato Research (AJPR) in 1996 and he served as an Associate Editor from 1996 to 1998 and a Senior Editor from 1998 to 2002. Greg served on the LAC for the 1995 PAA Meeting in Bangor, ME and was co-Chair with Leigh Morrow for the 2015 PAA Meeting in Portland, ME. Greg has been an active member of the Production & Management, Breeding & Genetics, and Physiology sections. He has also reviewed many manuscripts for the AJPR and other scientific journals.
Outside of the University of Maine and PAA, Greg enjoys spending time with family, gardening, hiking, fishing, and many other outdoor activities. While not a big fan of travel, Greg enjoys occasional vacation travel to warmer climates than provided in his home state of Maine. He has also greatly valued the travel opportunities that PAA and other scientific meetings have provided over the years. His family’s farm in northern Maine has thrived under the leadership of Greg’s father (now deceased), older brother, and nephew. They currently raise ~1500 acres of potatoes and up to 3000 acres of grain.
Greg resides in Bangor, Maine where his spouse, Eileen, has worked there as a dietitian for many years. They met at the University of Maine in 1980, raised two children together, and have shared many good times over the years. Eileen has enjoyed attending PAA meetings when her work schedule and family obligations allowed. Eileen’s support over the years allowed Greg to spend many days and weeks conducting potato research in northern Maine (160 miles away from their home in Bangor). They have two daughters and two grandsons. Their daughter, Erin, currently teaches in a Bangor-area elementary school and specializes in improving the reading and literacy skills of students. Their younger daughter, Katie, currently is a biomedical engineering researcher at a large Boston-area pharmaceutical company.
Ken was born in Marion, New York and spent his early childhood growing up on a farm in Canadaigua, New York. His family raised milk cows and a multitude of crops to support the herd. He obtained his BS and MS degrees from Cornell in Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy, respectively. He obtained a Soil Science PhD from Oregon State University in 1973 under the direction of Dr. Larry Boersma. His thesis research involved studies that were ahead of their time in the sense of exploring environmental impacts. He looked at cropping systems using waste heat from steam electrical plants to enhance plant growth – heating greenhouses and using subsurface line heat sources to enhance production. He investigated the contributions that fertilizers were making to groundwater pollution. This early interest on the interface of crop production and the environment carried through his entire career.
Following graduation, Ken took a job as a research associate with Cornell at its Long Island Vegetable Research Farm. He investigated nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency of turfgrass and potatoes. In 1976, he took a job as a crop scientist with McCain Foods, an international potato growing and processing company. He did potato research and extension work in Maine and New Brunswick Canada while stationed in Florenceville New Brunswick. He also had responsibility for McCain agronomy programs in Europe. Evaluating long-term rotations and determining yield impacts of missing plants on tuber yield and quality were a major focus of his early career with McCain. His greatest impact to McCain and the North American potato process industry came from his work with Shepody. He first evaluated F69016 (Clone # of Shepody before variety release) in 1978 and was amazed at its size and shape for making French fries. However, the clone performed poorly in multiple locations throughout the Maritime Region and was discarded from the program because of tendencies for misshapen tubers. Ken spent several years researching how to manage this clone for optimum yield, tuber size and shape uniformity for processing. In addition, he researched best management practices for seed production as tubers tended to get very large. His efforts and research results played a major role in the eventual release of the variety as Shepody. His work with McCain prepared him for his job with Oregon State University. In 1987, Ken was named superintendent of the Klamath Experiment Station (KES; now the Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center) and served in that role until his retirement in 2003. In addition to station superintendent responsibilities, he was responsible for the potato research program in the Basin.
Ken’s contributions to the Pacific Northwest potato industry actually began before he assumed the position of Superintendent of KES. The Treasure Valley of eastern Oregon and western Idaho was having significant problems with sugar ends in Russet Burbank. He networked with Dr. Clint Shock who was Superintendent at the OSU Malheur Experiment Station to begin evaluating Shepody as it is less sensitive to environmental stresses related to temperature and moisture extremes common to the area. Early evaluation was quite successful and Shepody eventually expanded in acreage. It has been said that the introduction of Shepody saved the processing potato industry in the Treasure Valley and in some circles, Ken is best known as the ‘Shepard of the Shepody’.
The Tri-state Potato Program was initiated about three years before Ken became Superintendent at KES. He was extremely active in this program and initiated a red-skinned selection program in the Klamath Basin evaluating material from Dr. Joseph Pavek at USDA-ARS in Aberdeen, ID and Dr. Robert Johannsen at NDSU. His efforts resulted in the release of Modoc, which has been a major fresh market red variety the past several years. Ken was quite active in other disciplines of traditional research related to potato production. He investigated nitrogen fertilizer impacts. He explored the impacts of micronutrients. He looked at the effect of mulches. He ventured into issues of pest control – diseases and nematodes. He did variety and cultural management by variety trials. He was a speaker on potato agronomic practices at professional and producer conferences in Canada, Maine, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, England and Scotland. He did collaborative work with colleagues at KES on forages and cereal grains.
While Ken was peer and producer recognized for his agronomic work and insights, his greatest impacts in Oregon were likely in the area of providing a voice for agriculture and common sense in the water wars that ensued in the early 1990s in the Klamath Basin. Salmon populations in the Klamath River were fluctuating wildly. Suckers in Upper Klamath Lake were listed as endangered. The solutions that fish and wildlife managers proposed all seemed simple from a fish standpoint – keep more water in Klamath Lake while sending more water down the Klamath River – but these were impractical, if not impossible from the perspective of maintaining an agricultural industry in the Basin and in maintaining the federal waterfowl refuges that also exist in the area. Ken was a scientist and tried to explain with facts and figures the challenges that the local communities faced. He was a frequent editorial writer to the local paper and was sought as an information source by other scientists who were trying to find a solution to the water crisis in the Basin.
The following are the ending paragraphs of an editorial Ken wrote in the Klamath Herald and News on March 19, 2001. They typify his approach to addressing issues.
Historical data clearly show the Upper Klamath Basin watershed is not capable of meeting US Fish and Wildlife Service minimum lake elevations and National Marine Fisheries Service (Hardy Phase I) minimum flows at Iron Gate in about one year in three, even if the Klamath Irrigation Project and Lower Klamath and Tulelake national wildlife refuges do not receive any diversion from Klamath Lake. Furthermore, in some of those years, one of the targets will be violated to meet the other one. This year is almost certain to fall within the one in three years of inadequate supplies for these targets.
History has demonstrated that Klamath Lake suckers have survived lake elevations of 3 feet below the target elevation of 4,140.0 in 1992 and 1994. History has shown a successful recruitment of Chinook salmon in 1992 when flows at Iron Gate Dam were about 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) or less from February through September, except for 26 days in April and June when flows were about 800 cfs. Nearly 400,000 Chinook salmon returned to the river in 1995 and 1996, the highest return in 40 years (source — Pacific Fishery Management Council). The establishment of operating requirements that are physically impossible to meet, and that were not achieved in historical times, demonstrates an arrogant disregard for common sense.
Those who follow endangered species activities will know that the water crisis in the Klamath Basin is still unresolved but there have been several attempts over time to use a science-based, common sense approach to try to achieve a solution to the issue. Ken Rykbost was a pioneer in bringing that perspective to the issue.
Ken joined the Potato Association of America in 1973 at the beginning of his career working with potatoes. He authored or co-authored more than 25 journal manuscripts and a similar number of abstracts. He served the PAA as a manuscript reviewer, attended most annual meetings, and was a member until his retirement in 2005. His many contributions to the potato industry, voice of reason and advocacy of irrigated agriculture in the West are reasons to celebrate his induction as an Honorary Life Member to the PAA.
Mike Thornton has been an incredible asset to the potato industry. Mike’s dedicated 40+ year career to the potato industry, science, and the Potato Association of America has been outstanding and unwavering. His 26+ years at the University of Idaho as a potato/onion specialist and professor of plant sciences, complimented with 6 years in non-academic potato industry, foundational graduate work in Horticulture (M.S. Colorado State University) and Plant Science (Ph.D. University of Idaho), and his family legacy have made Mike a well-rounded, highly experienced, and greatly appreciated potato researcher.
Mike’s willingness to contribute so much as an active member of the PAA shows his strong commitment to the mission of the PAA. Mike has been a member of the PAA since 1984. In the past 38 years with the Potato Association of America, Mike has been President (2016-17), Past-President, President-Elect, Vice-President, Director on the Executive Committee, Chair of the site selection committee, member of the Finance and Endowment Committee, member of the Nominations Committee, member of the HLM Committee, member of the Constitution and Bylaws Committees, Senior Editor, member of the Editorial Board, member of two Symposium Committees, Director of the Production and Management Section, Chair of the Physiology Section and Production and Management Section, member and chair of the Membership Committee, and active member on three Local Arrangements Committees for Idaho. Mike has co-authored over 50 abstracts published in the American Journal of Potato Research signifying his dedication to presenting, or aiding in the dissemination, of research at the annual PAA meeting.
Mike is a true scientist: non-bias in his thinking and approach, open to new ideas and concepts, entrenched in a solid foundation of science and knowledge of the literature, and remarkable ability to represent and interpret data to achieve the greatest insight. He has collaborated with diverse groups, colleagues, and industry partners to investigate and research important topics for the potato industry. Mike magically blends his incredible aptitude of the science and physiology of the crop with undeniable understanding of potato production, storage, transportation, uses, and marketing. His ability to blend the two has produced applied solutions for the industry and foundational science for others to build upon. Mike has co-authored more than 300 diverse potato publications and presented over 500 potato presentations to varied audiences.
Leadership and mentoring are two qualities strongly associated with Mike. His leadership extended far with international collaborations and activities with EAPR as the US county representative and member of the editorial board, and national activities such as his leadership on the National Potato Anti-Bruise Committee for eight years. Mike’s contribution to the potato industry is integrated in and woven throughout the entire national and global industry.
Mike is a great friend of the potato industry and a wonderful family member of the PAA.