PLOVER - The rush to pick the potato crop has hit central Wisconsin.
A rainy day couldn't spoil Tuesday's harvest.
But beyond just digging those spuds, we explore the life of a potato - all the way to your plate.
It's the peak of potato harvest season in central Wisconsin, and Gagas Farms near Stevens Point is in full swing.
"Some of our neighbors are claiming really fantastic yields. Some of our fields were, and others have been kind of average. Quality has been pretty good this year," says Cliff Gagas of Gagas Farms.
Cliff Gagas has been growing potatoes here as long as he can remember.
His farm produces several different varieties.
Today they were harvesting Burbanks, which will eventually go to McCain Foods near Plover.
They'll get there after being sorted, the rocks taken out, and put on one of as many as 60 truckloads in a day.
Those Burbank potatoes from Gagas come to McCain.
"It goes through a washing, a scrubbing, a peeling, then a preheating, which takes the potato to a temperature where it's able to be cut. We then cut the potato into strips, which in turn is French fries, we cook them, fry them, freeze them, and then package them and send them out as a delicious McCain product," says Dan Snyder of McCain.
Those potatoes don't come from just anywhere - it's mostly local.
"We get 70 percent of our raw product from the central sands area, which is about a 30 mile radius from the Plover facility," he says.
After McCain's packages the products, it heads to supermarkets all over the region - and country.
Shopping at the store, you can get anything from hash browns to crinkle cut fries to potato wedges for your table at home.
MADISON - Unemployment is up in all of Wisconsin's largest cities and most counties.
The state Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that unemployment rates in June increased in all of the state's 32 largest cities. Unemployment rates went up in 61 of 72 counties and remained unchanged in the other 11.
Wisconsin's monthly unemployment rate in June was 5.7 percent, unchanged from May.
Gardens need some help with large temperature swings in summer
RHINELANDER - Northwoods heat the past few days forced plants to endure different weather, but you don't need to do extra gardening just because it's hot.
Experts at Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander say plants can manage the heat just fine. On hot, sunny days, many plants will wilt, but that doesn't mean they need more water.
"If the soil is moist on a hot day, I wouldn't water more. That's probably more harm. The plant can only take up so much moisture at a time, so I would just hold off on watering," says Sue Hanson, Hanson's Garden Village Co-Owner.
MERRILL - Members of a Northwoods union chapter gathered unique inspiration for a fundraiser - The Beatles.
Merrill-area Local 6 members gathered Wednesday on the Wisconsin flowage to raise money for groups in need of assistance. The union leaders organized boat rides, raffles, barbecues, and contests. The inspiration for the fundraiser came, in part, from the 1965 Beatles single Help!
"I found out it was the anniversary of the 'Help!' release from The Beatles record, and I decided, let's help our community," said Local 6 Vice President Valerie Nelson. "Our membership is very passionate about certain organizations within our community. One being the Lincoln County Humane Society, the local food pantry, and the American Cancer Society."
47-year-old Karen Wessell of Star Lake died in yesterday's swimming accident in Vilas County. A boater pulled 2 people out of the water after they started drowning on Star Lake. We now know Wessell died shortly after.
Wessell went under water during a rescue attempt.
The Vilas County Sheriff says 3 women and 4 kids were along Trampers Trail. 3 boys swam across the channel and were told to come back. They got tired swimming back to shore so the women had to help. Wessell used herself to push one of the boys above the water to keep him from going under. A boater saw them, pulled them out, and started doing CPR.
EAGLE RIVER - A new type of foundation could give you a better way to build a home, and the idea for the improvement starts right here in the Northwoods.
Composite Panel Systems in Eagle River builds composite panels for home foundations. Composite means anything made of two or more materials, which includes fiberglass in this case. The company describes the EPITOME Quality Foundation Wall as a revolutionary composite building solution for residential foundations.
The company makes them off site, and then they put them together on location. Composite Panel Systems' Scott Weber says that means a shorter build time compared to concrete foundations.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. and By Request Web Designs shall not be held responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.