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Browsing articles by Melanie Epp

Soil Health Key for Long-Term Potato Production

Across North America, most potato crop yields have been on the rise in the past few decades. In parts of Canada though, data has revealed that yields in some areas have either decreased or remained stagnant, especially in New Brunswick. Soil scientists attribute this to waning soil health due in part to short rotations and soil erosion. As a result, improving soil health is top of mind for many producers. The Importance…

New Potato Technologies

The Humigator Designed by Idaho-based Isaacs Hydropermutation Technologies Inc., the Humigator is a combination of a humidifier and a fumigator. While its primary function is to clean the air in potato storage sites, which helps stop the spread and lower the risk of disease, it also humidifies to higher levels than older technologies, which reduces loss due to shrinkage. Garry Isaacs, the creator of the Humigator, designed the first prototype in 1985…

Agritechnica

Every two years, Hanover, Germany hosts Agritechnica, the world’s largest trade fair for agricultural machinery and equipment. Agritechnica 2015 attracted almost 3,000 exhibitors from 50-plus nations along with tens of thousands of visitors from more than 100 countries to Hanover in November. Spud Smart was there and was able to peruse the latest in cutting edge potato equipment on display. Here are some products that caught our eye. Every-Air Tarp Winner of…

Tools for Success

To protect their investment, it’s important for growers to keep on top of the latest innovations in ventilation, humidification and spout control when storing their potato crops. Spud Smart talked to some industry experts about new equipment, products and technologies aimed at ensuring storage success. Remote Control Ashley Gorman, vice-president of sales at P.E.I.-based Gorman Controls, believes the most important new technologies to hit the scene in recent years have been those…

Durable Late Blight Resistance

Researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands have just completed a 10-year project entitled “Durable Resistance against Phytophthora through cisgenic modification” with the acronym DuRPh. Their goal was to prove that existing potato varieties can be made durably resistant to the Phytophthora infestans pathogen that causes late blight in potatoes, thereby reducing dependence on chemical fungicides to fight the disease. The cisgenic modification technique applied in the DuRPh project…

If Plants Could Talk

Imagine if you could walk into the field and have your potato plants tell you how they are doing. This groundbreaking technology is closer than you think. Two Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists at the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, N.B., Bernie Zebarth and Helen Tai, are working on a method for collecting data from plants almost the same way as a car mechanic assesses your car’s engine. The researchers are looking…

Low Glycemic Potatoes

A team of researchers at the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, N.B., and the Lethbridge Research Centre in Alberta has developed a low glycemic potato. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada project lead Benoit Bizimungu says this development could help consumers to achieve sustainable weight loss and improve the management of diabetes. Not only that, but the new low glycemic index variety could create new market opportunities for potato growers. Glycemic index or GI…

Managing Fusarium Dry Rot in Potatoes

Fusarium is a major problem for potato growers. The fungi, says Alberta Agriculture plant pathologist Michael Harding, can affect tubers all the way through the production cycle, causing seed piece decay, wilt during the growing season, and dry rot in storage. There are ways, however, to mitigate risk, and should that fail, ways to manage the disease if it does occur. “Fusarium is a really important fungal genus for potato diseases,” says…

Potato Mop-Top Virus

Potato mop-top virus, or PMTV, is a disease that is on the rise in the United States, says retired American plant pathologist Jim Crosslin. Since pathogens don’t respect borders, some potato experts believe there’s a chance PMTV could become an issue in Canada, too. While many potato viruses are transmitted by aphids or nematodes, PMTV is spread by spores of the powdery scab pathogen Spongospora subterranea. Powdery scab favours moist soil and…

Next-Generation Sequencing

Soil is sometimes referred to as the last frontier because so little is known about the microscopic life that teems within it. What we do know is that a small handful of dirt typically contains thousands of tiny microorganisms, many of them still unidentified by science. Because the crops we grow and food we eat depend so heavily on the health of the soil, scientists around the world are working hard to…

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