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NEWS STORIES

Central Wisconsin Potatoes - From Field to ForkSubmitted: 10/09/2012

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com

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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.

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The men and their boat were recovered and brought back to shore.

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