About 40 representatives from the potato industry and the federal and provincial governments gathered in Ottawa, Ont. on March 7 and 8 for the Canadian Potato Council and Seed Potato Sub Committee meetings to review topics of importance to Canadian potato growers. These meetings were held in conjunction with the Canadian Horticultural Council Annual General Meeting.
Among the topics discussed was the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO), which provides a forum for public and private sectors in Canada, the United States and Mexico to collaborate in the development of science-based standards intended to protect plant resources against regulated plant pests, while facilitating trade.
Achievement of the NAPPO Mission and Strategic Goals is accomplished in large measure through the development of Regional Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (RSPM). These standards can be commodity-specific standards that deal with movement of plants material applying to trade amongst NAPPO countries and also to trade from countries outside the North American region into a NAPPO country.
The NAPPO Potato Expert Group, on which the CPC has representation, has proposed changes to the standard Movement of Potatoes into a NAPPO Member Country (ISPM-3) to align with the international standard. The major proposed change is that plantlets and microtubers would not be subject to post-entry quarantine if produced in certified laboratory in a non-NAPPO country.
Import permits would be required for some countries of origin where there is not experience with the NPPO from that country. Interested parties are encouraged to provide comment on the proposal until May 31, 2016 at nappo.org/english/country-consultation/rspm-3.
Potato Cyst Nematode
Also at the meeting, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency presented an update of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) testing. In the 2015 annual survey, 10,700 samples were submitted for testing, all of which were negative for PCN. Samples collected for seed export to the U.S. and Thailand were reduced 17 per cent compared to the previous year.
Since 2007, 246,094 soil samples have been tested in the detection survey, all of which tested negative. In 2016, the CFIA Charlottetown laboratory will do most of the PCN testing. Growers are requested to ensure that the ‘date required by’ is accurate to ensure efficient processing of samples.
Also discussed was the recent Pest Management Regulatory Agency proposed re-evaluation decision for chlorothalonil, which is of significant concern to Canadian potato growers as it recommends severe restrictions to the use of this essential tool to manage resistance of late blight and other pathogens of potatoes.
The PMRA has proposed the discontinuation of use on many crops, and a restriction in the number of applications on potatoes to one per season based on a revised risk assessment for workers during post-application activities. The Canadian Horticultural Council’s Crop Protection Advisory Committee is co-ordinating a national consultation response to the proposed re-evaluation decision for chlorothalonil.
Potato growers are encouraged to complete the survey on chlorothalonil use distributed by their provincial organizations. Information gathered on the extent of use, typical use (rates, number of applications, tank mixtures) and post-application entry on potatoes will be submitted to the PMRA to assist in the refinement of their risk assessment. Growers may also respond to the public consultation directly until June 10, 2016 by visiting hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pest/part/consultations/_rev2016-06/index-eng.php.
Grower-sponsored potato research funded under the CHC Agri-Science Cluster for Horticulture 2 is entering the final two seasons of field research. Progress reports on the successes to date in the six potato projects (Potato Virus Y, wireworm, zebra chip/potato psyllid, verticillium, nitrogen management and variety evaluation) can be found on the CHC website at hortcouncil.ca/projects-and-programs/agri-science-cluster2.aspx.
This research is partially funded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward 2 in partnership with funding from potato growers and other industry stakeholders.
Over the summer, provincial potato organizations will begin consultations with their grower members to identify industry priorities for potato research over the next five years after March 31, 2018 when the current funding expires. The CPC will then develop research priorities of common national interest based on input provided by provincial organizations that will form the basis for a future funding application to be submitted in the fall of 2017.
The CPC will continue efforts to examine the establishment of a National Promotion and Research Agency for potatoes. Over the summer, industry stakeholders including importers, processors and retailers will be consulted to inform them of the findings to date and to gather their input on possible agency formation as this process moves forward.
Canadian potato growers have been represented by the CPC on many government and industry committees and meetings over the past year including AAFC Value Chain Roundtables (Horticulture, Seed, Bee Health), the CFIA Plant Breeders’ Rights Advisory Committee, NAPPO (Potato Expert Group, Oversight Expert Group), Potato Association of America Seed Certification, Alliance for Potato Research and Education and the Potato Sustainability Initiative. This participation ensures that the interests of Canadian potato growers are well represented at the national and international levels.