In addition to its annual Hall of Fame inductions, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) presented several other annual industry awards at a banquet held February 5, 2020, in Stevens Point.
The WPVGA Researcher of the Year Award went to Dr. Paul Bethke,an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Horticulture. Dr. Bethke attended UW-Madison where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 2006, Dr. Bethke joined the potato team in Madison as a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His research is focused on how genetics and the environment influence potato tuber quality, especially as it relates to quality out of storage. His group is currently working on projects related to diploid potatoes, the appearance of red skinned potatoes, the formation and consequences of lenticels, aerial imaging, stem-end chip defect and potato virus Y.>p>
The Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the four original departments of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and was founded in 1889. Home to 12 state-supported faculty members and 25 staff members, as well as 8 federally-supported faculty members, the department serves as a home for instruction, research, and outreach activities in many aspects of horticultural science. Since the 1960s, our department has benefitted from a strong partnership with the Vegetable and Cranberry Research Unit of USDA-ARS, which provides support for the 8 federally supported faculty programs, staff, and students.
The Department provides programs that are focused on fundamental studies of plant biology, crop production, and utilization of horticultural crops. It also provides educational opportunities for the pursuit of careers in horticulture, strengthens the competitive position of Wisconsin's horticulture industry, and works to increase the use of plants for environmental improvement and as a source of personal enrichment. The work of department faculty, staff, and students has made substantial impacts in the state and nation for over 125 years.