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Oats: Fall Cover Crop

Oats have been used as a fall cover crop for decades, says Eugenia Banks, a potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board. The plants can grow up to four feet tall, and winterkill at -8 C.  “For maximum benefit, oats should be planted at least six weeks prior to a frost,” she says. Furthermore, oats establish quickly, suppress weeds, prevent soil erosion, scavenge soil nutrients and improve soil structure, says Banks.  Better soil structure “softens”…

Verticillium and Weeds

Verticillium wilt is a major soil-borne disease that can result in yield losses as high as 50 per cent in potatoes. The roots of a potato plant, or other host plant, release compounds that stimulate the germination of Verticillium dahliae microsclerotia, the fungus’s survival structures in the soil. The fungus then grows, penetrates the plant’s roots and spreads up the plant, eventually causing wilting, yellowing and early dying in potatoes. “As Verticillium dahliae completes…

The Next Level of Weed Control

As anyone in the ag sector well knows, new technologies are quickly revolutionizing farming, automating processes in major ways to make them more efficient, less costly and more environmentally-friendly. Weed control is one of those processes. Several companies and academic groups around the world have developed systems that enable more precise herbicide application through taking large numbers of images of a field using cameras on drones. The images are then amalgamated together…

Potato weed control goes digital

Some new high tech tools will soon give farmers a way to keep weeds down, cut costs and herbicide use dramatically and work around weed resistance to herbicides. In collaboration with a University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) engineer, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) weed specialist Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill is turning to sensors, cameras and computer algorithms to detect the exact location of weeds in a field. The digital technology will create a…

New label changes approved for Paradigm and Pixxaro

Western Canadian growers looking to rotate process and table potatoes on fields previously treated with broadleaf weed herbicides, Paradigm and Pixxaro, can now plant a minimum of 10 months after using either of the herbicides. Fields previously treated with Paradigm or Pixxaro can be seeded after a minimum of 10 months to a variety of crops. Which crops can be seeded depends on the herbicide, but both include: spring wheat, spring barley,…

Using smartphones to battle pests

A new app has been designed to help growers of field crops identify and manage insects, pathogens and weeds. And there is potential for other crops to be included once work on the current setup is complete. Set to be officially released in 2018 on Android and iOS, the Mobile Integrated Pest Management (Mobile-IPM) app is a tool for Canadian farmers. It focuses on the major Canadian crops such as oilseeds, cereals…

Loosing Linuron

Linuron is a staple ingredient in herbicides used for decades to help Canadian growers control broadleaf and grassy weeds prior to planting potatoes each growing season. However, changes are coming that will affect growers who rely on this pre-plant burndown product to control persistent weeds. Linuron is an active ingredient in some Group 7 herbicide products that growers have been using effectively, not just to control weeds and to also fight against…

Integrated Pest Management

Pests in their many forms — rooted, winged or microscopic — are a problem for any potato grower. Eradicating weeds, bugs and diseases in a way that’s environmentally sustainable but also makes economic sense is a primary goal of using an Integrated Pest Management strategy. We posed the question of best management practices in IPM to three growers from across the country: Michel Camps of Alberta, P.E.I.’s Thomas Hamill and Eugene Antworth…

Crop Scouting

As most commercial potato growers know, field scouting is a vital part of a farm’s Integrated Pest Management program. Crop scouts move methodically through fields looking for pests, measuring plant and pest populations and collecting information that growers can then use to make important pest control decisions. This information can help growers know not only if pest control measures are needed, but where they are needed. Many of the insects, diseases and…

Tuber Talk

Killing Weeds with Less

Successful weed management is one of the cornerstones of successful commercial potato production, particularly at the start of each growing season. Controlling weeds in potato crops doesn’t appear to be getting any easier—many Canadian growers and researchers alike agree this seems to be more of a challenge with each passing year. Weeds compete directly with potato plants for the basic natural elements required for growth, namely light, water and nutrients, and can…

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