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Browsing Category Crop Production

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….

Seed potatoes go to waste due to trade restrictions

The repercussions of the tomato potato psyllid outbreak are taking shape in Western Australia (WA), with seed potato growers starting to feed hundreds of tonnes of perfectly good produce to their cattle. With exports of WA potatoes and tomatoes still ground to a halt, and a fully supplied local market, seed potato producers have no home for their produce. It has forced many growers, such as Albany’s Trevor Barker, to dump their…

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…

Potato Late Blight Management

Potato late blight is a devastating disease of potatoes. It can destroy a potato field in a few days if wet weather prevails and no effective fungicides are applied. This is a “community disease” because late blight spores are spread by wind from infected to healthy fields. Thus, the management practices followed by individual growers will affect an entire potato production area. Late blight is carried over from one season to the…

Dicamba drift a new danger for potato growers

Crop damage caused by herbicide drift should be a risk on Manitoba potato producers’ radar this year. Soybean producers are gearing up to plant Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans following European Union approval last summer. The soybeans are tolerant to both glyphosate and dicamba herbicides. But dicamba drift can cause irreparable damage in neighbouring potato crops, said Andy Robinson, a North Dakota State University extension potato specialist, during a presentation on herbicide…

Building a better potato farm, one decision at a time

In every business, there are front-runners and there are followers. Motivated by passion and unafraid of learning, Kate Vander Zaag, and her husband Peter, have never been ones to sit back and wait for others to forge the path ahead. Farming together in Alliston, Ont. since 1990, they are fearless about investing their brainpower to constantly build a better farm. The Vander Zaags share flexible roles and responsibilities (Peter tends to handle…

WA potato farmers prepare to leave industry because of tomato potato psyllid outbreak

A Western Australia seed potato grower will know in the next six weeks whether his lifelong career will continue. “[Farming] is something that we’ve done not just because I wanted to but because I get a reward for it, financially and personally,” said Alan Parker. “[This] may be the last crop we grow here.” Usually at this time of year, Parker’s farm would be busy and in the middle of harvesting his…

Webcast: Practical Management of Powdery Scab

Powdery scab is a potato disease that is difficult to manage, and under certain environmental conditions, powdery scab can be potentially devastating to susceptible potato varieties. The Plant Management Network (PMN) has released a new presentation entitled Practical Management of Powdery Scab to help professionals reduce the likelihood of infections with a comprehensive management approach including disease avoidance, cultivar resistance, soil testing, proper irrigation and chemical applications. The webcast, developed by Robert…

Sorghum-Sudangrass as Rotation Crop

The ideal potato rotation crop is one that offers more than one agronomic benefit and also has a positive effect on potato yields. An exciting rotation option with great potential on both these fronts is now being investigated in a second in-depth study in P.E.I. Sorghum-sudangrass is being closely examined as part of a larger cross-country study focused on enhancing the productivity and sustainability of Canadian potato production. The national team includes…

Improving Soil, Improving Potatoes

Innovative growers and an agronomist recently teamed up to look at ways to improve the potato crop and the soil. For three years, Bruce and Hunter Wilson gave agronomist John Lightle the go ahead to try some cover crop combinations on their 6,000 acre farm in the Dufferin Highlands of Ontario. The acres are in a prime potato producing area and the growers wanted to maximize their yield while considering other cropping…

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