Seth Shelton’s master’s project with Dr. Pavek was two-fold. One aspect was studying hail damage on potatoes. He was trying to answer the question, At what point in the plant’s growth stage does hail damage mean it’s time to abandon the crop? He says this information is important not only to growers, but to insurance companies as well.
He also studied the effects of 1-Naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) on potato plant growth and development. A plant growth hormone, NAA “can help growers decrease stem counts to help increase tuber size profiles,” Seth says. “This shift in tuber size profiles can help growers on their processing contracts and increase their returns dramatically from my experience.”
Currently, Seth works for Lamb Weston as an Agricultural Operations Specialist at their processing plant in Richland, Wash.
“My job is to act as the liaison between the processing plants and my growers. I help growers follow the terms of their processing contracts during the growing and storage season. My goal at Lamb Weston is to be on the Corporate Agronomy team with Chandler Dolezal and Chris Hiles–my fellow potato colleagues from WSU!”
Born and raised in Finley, Wash., Seth got interested in science and potatoes thanks to a summer job with Dr. Tim Waters, a vegetable pathologist with Washington State University Extension.
“I had just finished my Bachelors of Science degree at Oregon State University, and had no job for the summer. Dr. Waters took me under his wing and showed me what scientific research had to offer. He asked me if I wanted to continue my education in agriculture. I told him yes. He said the only stipulation was that it had to be in potatoes. I said I loved French fries, so why not!”
Seth is the father of three children. “They love coming to work with me and checking my potato storages,” he says. “Future potato heads!”
In his spare time, Seth officiates high school basketball, rides bucking horses, and takes his family camping and fishing.