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Browsing Category Winter 2017

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Imidacloprid Uncertainty

UPDATE:  The consultation period has been extended. Interested parties are encouraged to provide comments and suggestions by 23 March 2017. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you have probably heard by now that Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is proposing to phase out all agricultural uses of imidacloprid over three to five years. The proposed phase out comes as a result of a re-evaluation of imidacloprid by the PMRA,…

IPM Training Module Launched

Positive comments are coming fast and furious for a new potato integrated pest management (IPM) training module recently launched by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). According to OMAFRA, “the module is a great educational tool with information for the common insect pests, diseases, viruses and disorders of potatoes in Ontario.” The creator of the module is Eugenia Banks, OMAFRA’s longtime potato specialist who retired in late 2015….

Fast-Tracking Extreme Resistance

A key tool in the arsenal for controlling potato virus Y (PVY) is cultivar resistance. Now, researchers are developing better molecular markers for faster, more accurate screening of potato breeding lines for “extreme resistance” to PVY – equivalent to PVY immunity. That will enable breeders to more efficiently develop new varieties with total protection against this serious disease. “PVY is one of the most widespread viruses and also one of the most…

Remarkable Turnaround for Manitoba Grower

Eleven years ago, things weren’t going so well for Manitoba potato grower Sheldon Wiebe. Wiebe had gone through some really tough years on his farm just outside MacGregor, and it prompted him to take stock: he could continue dryland potato farming on the fields where his family had been growing spuds for three generations, or he could look somewhere else. “That fall I went for a drive 20 miles west of us…

Managing Soil-Borne Pests, Diseases

For potato farmers, soil-borne pests and diseases are like that pesky younger sibling that’s always trying to get you in trouble: ignore them at your peril. Hazards such as Verticillium, nematodes, pink rot and Rhizoctonia can have a big impact on the bottom line if not kept in check. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart sought input from three industry experts on the financial importance of these potato problems, and best…

More Than Just a Purple Potato

Although potato growers, large grocery chains and potato processors continue to meet the consumer’s insatiable appetite for fries and chips, the consumption value of all potato varieties is being lost in the bin. When the potato was given a bad reputation in the high protein diet craze, consumers began to move to other starches. Recently, the industry has attempted to prompt a new conversation about the nutritional value of the humble spud….

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…

Conservation Measures Outperform Conventional Yields

Conventional potato production appears ultimately to produce the highest net return per acre. But you have to weigh that against “conservation” potato production practices that not only grow potatoes, but also do more to improve overall soil quality and health. What is that worth to a producer? That conclusion comes following a 12-year Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) field study comparing conventional irrigated potato production practices and conservation practices that included no…

From Traits to DNA to Traits

Potato breeders select promising lines mainly based on the plants’ phenotypes – how the individual plants perform under greenhouse and field conditions; in other words, how each plant expresses its own specific DNA – its genotype – in a particular environmental situation. But phenotypic selection can be time-consuming and imperfect. So Canadian researchers are matching key phenotypic traits with specific DNA segments to develop tools for quicker, more reliable identification of the…

Convincing the Unconvinced on Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture is cutting edge, high-tech and full of potential. At least some western Canadian potato farmers, however, see it as overwhelming, costly, frustrating, and/or difficult to implement. If you look past the hype and excitement surrounding precision agriculture, you’ll find a group of farmers who have tried it and quit, or who were turned off the concept before they ever started. Jeff Bronsch, an agronomic consultant in Taber, Alta., understands farmers…

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