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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…

French Fries Gaining Ground

Hot, convenient and delicious fast food – that’s what’s driving the growing global demand for frozen potato products such as french fries. Bruce Huffaker, publisher of North American Potato Market News, says the biggest current growth markets for french fries are Brazil and several countries in both the Pacific Rim and Middle East. While Europe offers aggressive pricing, good currency value and some transportation advantages, Huffaker says North America’s biggest advantages are…

War and Peace, Verticillium Style

Verticillium dahliae, a soil-borne fungus, causes wilt, yellowing, necrosis and early dying in potato. This yield-robbing pathogen is tough to manage, has a broad host range, and is known to survive in the soil for up to about five years. Potato cultivars with improved resistance to Verticillium would be a great tool for growers. Now, research into the complicated interactions between potato plants and this pathogen has come up with a more…

What’s in a Name?

Even though Shakespeare has very eloquently expressed that names are no substitute for substance (as Juliet tells Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”), names are nevertheless important. In many cultures, great emphasis is placed on the naming of newborn children — in some instances, first names may provide an indication of the cultural, political and social circumstances surrounding the…

Industry News

BUSINESS NEWS B.C. Potatoes on Display More than 200 people turned out for the annual B.C. Potato & Vegetable Growers’ Association’s Potato Variety Trial at Brent Kelly Farms in East Delta, B.C. on Aug. 30, with seed growers attending from around the province, and from Alberta and P.E.I. Ninety-two varieties were presented to the farming, industry and government potato sectors. The sneak peek gave growers an idea of how some of the…

World Review

NEW ZEALAND An unprecedented wet season in New Zealand has caused potatoes to rot in the ground before they could be harvested, with one Horowhenua district farmer losing 100 tonnes from a single paddock. Opiki potato farmer, Mike Moleta has been working his family farm for two decades, his father for six decades before him. He said that in all that time they had never experienced weather so extreme. The potatoes, planted…

Disease Watch: Late Blight

Late blight disease caused by Phytophthora infestans devastates potato foliage and tubers. The pathogen can survive between growing seasons as mycelium in potato tubers and plant tissues, and on alternative hosts of Solanaceae family. The pathogen may also overwinter as oospores in soil. Infected tubers used for seed or discarded onto cull piles or infected volunteer potatoes are sources of infection for the new growing season. In addition to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant,…

From our Desk

Psyllids and Zebra Chip

University of Lethbridge biogeography professor Dan Johnson has been monitoring Prairie potato fields for the past few years, looking for evidence of the potato psyllid and a bacterium it can carry that can lead to zebra chip disease in potato crops. The good news: So far in 2017, the number of potato psyllids has been lower than in previous years, both in Canada and the U.S. The better news: None of the…

Eye On The Nation

ALBERTA By Terence Hochstein, Executive Director, Potato Growers of Alberta Alberta’s spring got off to what most would consider a normal spring, with good weather and normal moisture. Planting got underway in the south about April 20, with the north seed areas starting about three weeks later. It’s a good thing we had early spring moisture because that is the last that most growing areas received. The south has not received any…

Swansfleet Alliance Celebrates 40 Years

Manitoba’s Swansfleet Alliance is marking its 40th year of producing seed potatoes this year. Its founder, Dutch immigrant Henk Jonk, came to Canada in 1954 and eventually settled in the Swan Lake area of the province to farm. He began growing seed potatoes in 1976, and today his sons and grandchildren carry on the proud family tradition of providing high-quality seed to potato producers in Manitoba. One of Henk’s grandsons, Russell Jonk,…

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