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Late blight alert in southern Ontario

A&L Biologicals Laboratory has confirmed the presence of late blight spores in the Alliston, Ont. area. Spores were not detected in the spore trap near Shelburne, Ont., but conditions for the development of late blight are perfect not only near Alliston but across the province of Ontario. To date, there are no reports of potato late blight in Ontario. But potato fields must be protected against this devastating disease to avoid economic…

Heavy rains cause losses in Ontario potato fields

After a month of good growing conditions and positive reports amid sporadic news on disease potential, word from one of Ontario’s potato-growing regions is that roughly 1,000 acres of potatoes have been lost due to flooding. Drenching rains in midwestern Ontario have left both commercial fields and variety plots ruined. Rainfall amounts from June 22 to 23 varied in the potato-growing areas, with the Orangeville and Beeton districts the hardest hit. Orangeville…

Soil Testing Accuracy Important

The phrase that advises us never to compare apples to oranges should be taken very seriously in relation to soil tests according to Pat Toner, a soil management specialist with New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture (NBAFA). “A standard test will measure water pH, buffer pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur, but you need to ensure a couple of things are in place for the results to be accurate and useful,” Toner explains….

Wireworms – Know Them, Control Them

A key hurdle in managing wireworms is that different species can have different responses to control measures. So in 2004, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers launched the first-ever nation-wide survey of wireworm pest species. Now this challenging survey is in its final year. “The survey is foundational to our development of integrated pest management strategies for wireworms right across Canada,” says Bob Vernon, the AAFC research scientist who is leading the…

Seeding decisions harvest opportunities for Canadian farmers

With innovations in crop science, production practices, and marketing, Canadian farm operators are growing a wider variety of field crops while also expanding their production area. Canada’s total field crop area increased seven per cent from 2011 to 92.7 million acres in 2016. The largest crops in terms of acreage were canola, spring wheat, alfalfa and barley. As well, pulses and soybeans have shown considerable growth, the result of market opportunities and the development of seed varieties…

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…

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