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Colton Thurgood, M.S. 2020

Photo of Colton Thurgood, M.S. 2020
Colton Thurgood, M.S. 2020

Colton Thurgood researched the value of applying non-traditional additives on potatoes as additions to standard growing practices by asking the question, Do they add any economic value to the crop? 

Colton says that examples of non-traditional additives he studied include bio-stimulants, microbial inoculants, specialty fertilizers, humic acids, and surfactants, as well as a plant growth regulator called maleic hydrazide. Colton points out that many “non-traditional additives are marketed and sold without any evidence from a third-party that they increase revenue.”

By collecting data on yield, tuber size profile, internal quality, and sprouting on seven potato varieties, Colton “challenged the common opinion that the aforementioned products increase economic returns for potato growers when, in most instances, they either do nothing to increase revenue or, as was the case with maleic hydrazide, it actually negatively impacted yield and revenue in some potato varieties.”

Colton now works for the Idaho Crop Improvement Association where he says his responsibilities include managing “inspections and certifications for all seed potatoes grown in the state of Idaho: over 30,000 acres. This involves summer field inspections, post-harvest inspections, a winter grow-out in Hawaii, and laboratory testing. These steps allow us to work with seed growers to help them meet certification requirements for varietal purity, lot isolation, and diseases–mostly Potato Virus Y.”

Colton was raised in the Treasure Valley in Idaho where, he says, “I worked on a farm cultivating sugar beets, corn, wheat, and peppermint. I suppose my love for agriculture was cultivated during that time.” After earning a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Crop and Soil Science and realizing that he really enjoyed agricultural research, he decided to “seek out further training with the legendary Potato Research Group at Washington State University.”

Colton is married and he and his wife have a daughter. “I enjoy creating activities that we all enjoy together. I also enjoy the outdoors every chance I get by fishing, hiking, cycling, dirt biking, camping, and climbing.”