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Browsing articles by Mark Halsall

Swansfleet Alliance Celebrates 40 Years

Manitoba’s Swansfleet Alliance is marking its 40th year of producing seed potatoes this year. Its founder, Dutch immigrant Henk Jonk, came to Canada in 1954 and eventually settled in the Swan Lake area of the province to farm. He began growing seed potatoes in 1976, and today his sons and grandchildren carry on the proud family tradition of providing high-quality seed to potato producers in Manitoba. One of Henk’s grandsons, Russell Jonk,…

Market News

Despite a slow start for potato planting in some parts of the country, the average yield in Canada in 2017 is expected to come close to that of last year’s record-breaking crop, according to figures provided by the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). Based on late August estimates from producers, the Canadian average yield for this year’s crop is projected to be 304 hundredweight (cwt) per acre, which is just under…

Potato Farming Family Finds Room to Grow

As a kid growing up in the Netherlands, JP Claassen knew he wanted to be a potato farmer just like his dad. The problem was where to do just that. Claassen’s father Louis and his uncle Anselm cultivated seed potatoes on 140 acres of fertile Dutch farmland close to the North Sea. Between the two of them, they had five sons. The two brothers knew if their boys all grew up to…

Managing Soil Health in Potatoes

Soil health can be seen as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. This definition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) speaks to the importance of managing the soil so it can continue to sustain life for future generations. According to the USDA-NRCS, there are a number of agronomic measures farmers can follow to…

Market News

Canada’s potato storage holdings as of June 1 were down 14.4 per cent — or just over 2.8 million hundredweight — from the year before, according to figures from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). Kevin MacIsaac, UPGC general manager, says it’s the result of good demand in the fresh, chip and french fry categories in recent months. “The market has been active,” he says. “It has helped move the pile…

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…

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