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Browsing articles by Julienne Isaacs

Companion planting offers hope for wireworm control

Wireworm is persona non grata in many Canadian potato-growing areas, particularly in P.E.I., Alberta and B.C., where the pest causes millions of dollars of damage each year. “P.E.I. is a good example of where a wireworm problem is out of hand,” says Bob Vernon, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). “There’s a new species that’s come in from Europe that is now causing most of the damage: Agriotes sputator….

Seasonal help can be hard to come by

No two Canadian potato operations have the same challenges. Coast to coast, the problems and opportunities facing producers vary widely based on geography and markets. But one problem might be a little more common than others: finding the right seasonal help during the two busiest times of year – planting and harvest. In New Brunswick, a shortage of skilled workers has been a problem for years, says Paul Leahey, who has managed…

Family Pride

In 1989, Kornelis Bakker was in his second year of university in the Netherlands when his best friend made a surprising announcement: “We’re going to Canada next summer,” he told Bakker. A seed growers’ delegation from New Brunswick had been in the area visiting a few seed farms, including his friend’s. That night at supper, his friend told his parents he’d decided to do an internship in New Brunswick. “No, you’re not,”…

Zebra Chip Update

When Joseph Munyaneza first started working with zebra chip as a U.S. federal researcher, the disease — a bacterial infection spread by potato-tomato psyllids — was confined to Texas. Munyaneza is a research entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and is based in Washington, where he also serves as an adjunct professor at Washington State University. “As a federal government employee, I conducted research in Texas….

Production Projections

Statistics Canada’s production estimates for 2014, released this July, identify the total planted acreage in Canada as 348,221 acres. Overall, this represents a reduction of 7,117 acres over last year. As with last year’s crop, the reduction stem from decreases in processing contracts, especially in Manitoba, as well as the long winter and slow start to planting this spring. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, says that…

A Bright Future

 Ann Mbugua is a ware potato grower in East Africa, who for a long time had struggled to find somewhere to buy high-quality potato seed near her farm in the Kenyan village of Muchorwe. Things turned around a few years ago, when she attended a seminar on potato seed and immediately saw the potential for building her own profitable seed potato operation. Ann’s decision to start a seed potato business made a…

Recipe for Storage Success

Every grower has seen it at one time or another: the signs of pink rot spreading through the bin, and the dollar signs flying out the window. Fungal infections post-harvest can cause significant losses in a short period of time. The good news? Growers have an increasing number of options for controlling these diseases. And according to the experts, attention to detail and using the right products can mean the difference between…

Adventures in Flavour

Canadian consumers are used to choosing from a few standard types of potatoes—reds, yellows and whites—which they often find piled in heaps at the end of the vegetable aisle in the grocery store. But Angela Santiago, co-founder and CEO of the Little Potato Company based in Edmonton, Alta., has a different vision for potato consumers. “Little Potato Company loves to branch out into new things,” she says. “Our purpose is to bring…

The Path of Least Resistance

Twenty years ago, all was going well on Gary Linkletter’s potato operation in Prince Edward Island. Linkletter, who currently serves as chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board and was also co-chair of the Potato Council of the Canadian Horticultural Council, was doing everything right—not only did he use regular crop rotations, but he also had a hard and fast policy of rotating chemistries. Then the unthinkable happened. “All of a sudden, one…

Tools of The Trade

Rob Van Roessel, chairman of the Potato Growers of Alberta, and owner of Courtland Hill Farms, grows 390 acres of potatoes in Bow Island, Alta. Terry Curley, owner of Monaghan Farms, grows 1100 acres of potatoes in the Kensington area of Prince Edward Island. Jamie Lundy grows 1400 acres of potatoes with his brother Michael and father Alan near Alliston, Ont. Scott Anderson is the farms manager for Barrich Farms and the…

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