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Browsing articles by Mark Halsall

The Promise of Innate

There’s been plenty of talk in Canadian potato circles this past year about Innate, the genetically modified potato from J.R. Simplot Company that’s been given the green light by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada. Those approvals came too late for the product to be grown commercially in Canada in 2016, but don’t be surprised if Innate potatoes make an appearance this year. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the…

Guarding Against Dickeya

After triggering major crop losses in the United States, Dickeya has been dominating the potato meetings circuit in North America for the past year or two. In Canada, some of the discussions revolve around the consequences for growers should the new disease makes its way into this country — but some industry experts maintain Dickeya is likely already here. “I don’t know what the extent is [in Canada], but we found Dickeya…

Canadian potato storage holdings down

TOTAL POTATO storage holdings in Canada were down eight per cent on Feb. 1 from a year previously, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). Storage holdings were down in every province except for British Columbia, where holdings were up substantially at 24 per cent. Kevin MacIsaac, UPGC general manager, says an exceptional 2016 crop in B.C. meant more potatoes than usual were put in storage following harvest. Of those…

Remarkable Turnaround for Manitoba Grower

Eleven years ago, things weren’t going so well for Manitoba potato grower Sheldon Wiebe. Wiebe had gone through some really tough years on his farm just outside MacGregor, and it prompted him to take stock: he could continue dryland potato farming on the fields where his family had been growing spuds for three generations, or he could look somewhere else. “That fall I went for a drive 20 miles west of us…

Market News

AFTER TWO years of record-breaking yields for potato production in Canada, 2016 saw another bumper crop. While production was down substantially in Central Canada, other parts of the country produced an excellent crop, resulting in an estimated national yield of 307.2 hundredweight of potatoes per acre. That’s up 0.7 per cent from 2015’s yield of 305.1 hundredweight. While it’s been a third straight record-setting year for potato yields in Canada, it certainly…

The Agricultural Growth Act: One Year Later

In 2015, the Canadian potato breeding landscape was transformed with the adoption of the Agricultural Growth Act. The AGA, or Bill C-18 as it was otherwise known, included amendments to the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act (PBRA) that brought Canada into compliance with the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91). Among the numerous provisions in the amended PBRA was extending the duration of…

Soil Fumigation in Potatoes

While it is practiced extensively in the United States, soil fumigation is anything but common in potato production in Canada. But there’s a growing voice within the industry that views soil fumigants like chloropicrin as an important tool that should not be overlooked for ensuring healthier, better yielding potato crops. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart asked the following six experts to weigh in on the use of soil fumigation in…

Trying Something New in P.E.I.

For years, Robert Green has been growing barley and canola in rotation with potatoes on his farm in Bedeque, P.E.I. This season, he’s decided to try something new. Green is sticking with potatoes, but he is introducing some different crops into his rotation. They are green and yellow pea and faba bean — crops you don’t typically see on Island farms. “We’re going to try a couple of new crops here this…

Progressive Outlook on Potato Farming

New Brunswick’s Shawn Paget is among the new generation of potato farmers working hard to ensure that the industry remains an integral part of Canadian agriculture. “I’m very optimistic,” says the Simonds, N.B. farmer who’s also chair of Potatoes New Brunswick. “We’re all striving to become more efficient, and the advancements in technology today are allowing us to become better growers and more competitive in the world market.” Paget’s Riverview Farms is…

Late Blight Offensive: Targeting Tomatoes

Last year, for the first time in more than a decade, there were no lab-confirmed cases of late blight in Prince Edward Island’s commercial potato crop. And the province’s home gardeners can take much of the credit. A program launched by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the P.E.I Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in early 2015 urged gardeners to help protect the province’s $1 billion potato industry by planting tomato varieties with…

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