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A tuber-damaging strain of alfalfa mosaic virus

When alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) happens to occur in potatoes, it usually causes leaf mottling and blotching. Now, researchers have identified an unusual strain that causes necrosis – brownish dead patches – in tubers, the first such AMV strain found in Canada. The story of how this tuber-necrosis culprit was identified is a little like something from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The infected tubers were discovered in 2012 during routine sampling in…

Fall Bedding

Fall bedding in potato fields allows for soil preparation work to be done when growers typically have more time and labour available to them. In this system, growers usually irrigate, broadcast fertilizer as needed, plow, and then form beds into which they plant the following spring. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart asked the following five experts to weigh in on their experiences with fall bedding. Louis Claassen, a potato producer…

PotatoSize: an easier way of estimating potato crop size distribution

As the third most important global food crop, potatoes are grown for many different markets. It is fundamental for farmers to know when to halt crop growth to achieve optimal tuber size for market and so maximize profits. Until now, standard practice has been to grade a sample of tubers through multiple sieves, counting the number within size ranges, which is time consuming and expensive. Enter PotatoSize, a new mobile app developed…

USDA clears new GMO potato variety

A new potato variety that’s genetically modified to withstand bruising has been cleared for commercialization without undergoing USDA’s deregulatory process for biotech crops. The agency has advised the potato’s developer, Calyxt, the cultivar is not a “regulated article” under federal law because it doesn’t contain genes from plant pests. Because most commercial biotech crops incorporate genes from plant pests, they were subject to environmental analysis and a risk assessment from USDA before…

Island potato growers happy with harvest

Even with rain in the forecast for last weekend, and the potato harvest on the MacLean family farm in West Devon running late, Glen MacLean wasn’t sounding any alarm bells on Thursday, Oct. 20. “At this point it is not a big concern,” said MacLean, “because the water table is low.” Even a half an inch of rain would not delay the harvest for more than a day, he suggested. MacLean said…

Australia potato prices soar to record levels

Widespread flooding in Australia’s potato-growing regions has prompted record prices for far north Queensland growers who are long overdue for a pay rise. But it may be a case of too little, too late for the once proud potato stronghold of the Atherton Tableland, 80 kilometres inland of Cairns, where only 27 farmers still grow spuds. David Nix is one of them and he says growers are fetching the best prices in…

Hot summer a blight for Flemish potato farmers

This year’s Flemish potato harvest is well behind schedule. The Flemish agriculture and horticulture information centre says that the soil is too dry and as a result too hard to allow an efficient potato harvest. The centre blames the dry Flemish summer and the weather in recent weeks. Flemish potato farmers say that half their crop is still stuck in the ground. Many farmers still need to start digging up their spuds….

Sorting the rocks from the spuds

Up until this fall, Alex Docherty, chairman of the PEI Potato Board and a potato farmer in Elmwood, P.E.I., would do what most potato farmers on the Island still do today — hire rock pickers. This year, he purchased a Spudnik AirSep Harvester, a piece of equipment instead that eliminates one of the more mundane tasks of the potato harvest — separating the rocks from the spuds. “It’s an incredible piece of equipment,”…

Potatoes and biochar are not friends

Studies have shown that adding biochar to soil can improve soil fertility, increase nutrient utilization in plants, improve soil water-holding capacity, increase crop yield and reduce emission of greenhouse gases. However, if you are a potato farmer, your joy may be short-lived. Biochar and potatoes do not go very well together – at least not if you are aiming at saving water, according to results from Aarhus University in Denmark. During her…

Heavy rain impacts Tasmanian potato planting

Tasmania farmers are being prevented from planting spring crops like onions and potatoes as relentless rain soaks paddocks. Over the past week some parts of Tasmania have received more than 200 mm of rain, coming on the back of an unprecedented wet winter season. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association Vegetable Council chairman Nathan Richardson said the wet weather was causing trouble for planting Tasmanian staple crops such as onions, potatoes and poppy…

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