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Browsing articles by Carolyn King

Mustering Mustard for Potato Productivity

A recent study by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Dr. Bernie Zebarth, together with McCain Foods Canada agronomists and the PEI Potato Board, identified potato early dying complex (PED) and degraded soil health as the two most important factors limiting potato production in the Maritimes. So says Dr. Dahu Chen, a plant pathologist at AAFC’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre. This double threat has prompted Chen and his colleagues at AAFC…

Comparing New Nitrogen Alternatives

Nitrogen use efficiency is a topic that is an intersection of food security, environmental sustainability and economics in our agricultural production systems. We need to use nitrogen to produce a good harvest. So says Dr. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, the study’s lead investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta. “However, by using nitrogen fertilizer we also have the risk of losing some of that…

Boosting soil carbon, boosting potato yields

Louis-Pierre Comeau is adding the soil carbon piece to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) research efforts in the Maritimes. His studies will be contributing to the development of practical, profitable agricultural practices that increase soil organic matter for improved potato yields. Carbon is part of all plants and animals, and the key element in soil organic matter. “In turn, soil organic matter is essential for a variety of needs like food, fibre…

Is There a Best Way to Manage Nitrogen?

A major project with studies in Manitoba and Alberta has been comparing diverse nitrogen management options to see if there might be a clear winner when it comes to irrigated potato production on the Prairies. The project was prompted by several considerations. “Potato is one of our crops where we apply the most amount of nitrogen. So any study that helps us to fine-tune nitrogen management to optimize yields and quality and…

Tackling Resistant Pink Rot

Ridomil has been the standard fungicide for managing pink rot for many years. However, a national survey shows Ridomil-resistant pink rot is becoming more common. Fortunately, Canadian research has identified effective alternatives for managing resistant populations. “The issue of pink rot resistance came to a head in the early 2000s, when different potato production regions in the U.S. were finding some resistance to Ridomil, which has the active ingredient mefenoxam as they…

War and Peace, Verticillium Style

Verticillium dahliae, a soil-borne fungus, causes wilt, yellowing, necrosis and early dying in potato. This yield-robbing pathogen is tough to manage, has a broad host range, and is known to survive in the soil for up to about five years. Potato cultivars with improved resistance to Verticillium would be a great tool for growers. Now, research into the complicated interactions between potato plants and this pathogen has come up with a more…

A novel option to combat soil erosion

A spring cover crop planted at potato planting time – called a nurse crop – offers a way to reduce soil erosion during the weeks between potato planting and hilling. But what is the optimal way to grow a nurse crop to benefit the soil, the potato crop, and the grower’s bottom line? Researchers and growers in New Brunswick and Maine are working on answering that question. “The best part of the…

Fast-Tracking Extreme Resistance

A key tool in the arsenal for controlling potato virus Y (PVY) is cultivar resistance. Now, researchers are developing better molecular markers for faster, more accurate screening of potato breeding lines for “extreme resistance” to PVY – equivalent to PVY immunity. That will enable breeders to more efficiently develop new varieties with total protection against this serious disease. “PVY is one of the most widespread viruses and also one of the most…

Wireworms – Know Them, Control Them

A key hurdle in managing wireworms is that different species can have different responses to control measures. So in 2004, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers launched the first-ever nation-wide survey of wireworm pest species. Now this challenging survey is in its final year. “The survey is foundational to our development of integrated pest management strategies for wireworms right across Canada,” says Bob Vernon, the AAFC research scientist who is leading the…

Strain Tracking

Through a national initiative, Canadian researchers have found that late blight strains have shifted dramatically across the country since 2009. The researchers have also identified important differences among the strains in such characteristics as fungicide sensitivity, host preferences, and aggressiveness on potato tubers and foliage. And their findings are making a vital difference in late blight prevention and management. The research is led by Rick Peters, a research scientist with Agriculture and…

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