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Creating Brand Value Through Sustainable Packaging

Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability, and are considering it more and more in their purchasing decisions. Realizing this, retailers are looking across their businesses for ways to improve their social and environmental responsibility. However, potatoes present a unique challenge. On the one hand, consumers and retailers are concerned about sustainability. Meeting this need by improving potato packaging’s environmental footprint offers the opportunity to help differentiate one’s brand. On the other hand,…

From Field-to-Storage-to-Field

Tracking seed potatoes is the way of the future. Advanced harvest and storage mapping technology now allows accurate-to-the-truckload tracking of potatoes from where they were grown in a field to exactly where they are stored in a bin. The technology’s on-farm potential is huge: detailed, automated information capture supports more informed agronomic decision making, better storage management, enhanced bio-security, and more. But, tracking field-to-storage is just the beginning. Tracking product from seed…

Potatoes are Healthy……Again

Dr. Mehmet Oz, made famous by Oprah and now himself a popular talk-show host, dedicated much of his March 23, 2017 episode to promoting potatoes and educating viewers about their many uses (see it here: https://t.co/cQ1eWazTZw). The potato industry cheered. After all, our industry has not always seen eye to eye with Dr. Oz because he, like many celebrity influencers, has typically overlooked potatoes’ many health benefits in favour of riding the…

Physiology the ‘Root Cause’ Of Potatoes’ Unique Nutrient Needs

Managing nutrients for optimal potato crop health, yield and quality is challenging. The demands of tuber formation and the limitations of short, inefficient roots mean potatoes have nutrient requirements very different than most other major North American crops. Understanding how a potato plant processes nutrients in every growth stage; taking into account the potato type, variety and one’s specific environmental conditions; and forming a comprehensive nutrient management plan are all key factors…

Successfully Storing Problem Potatoes

Storing hot or cold, wet or disease-infected potatoes is challenging but, with the right care and attention, possible. First, know your risk: wet tubers combined with disease infection is a dangerous combination. Wet tubers combined with disease pressure and high temperature is deadly. Second, manage airflow. Uniform airflow is absolutely critical to managing all tubers, especially problem potatoes. Wet soil and broken-down tubers will limit airflow through those sections of the pile….

Field and Storage Mapping on the Vander Zaag Farm

Ontario potato farmers Kate and Peter Vander Zaag were among the first to adopt potato yield monitoring and, more recently, field-to-storage load tracking and mapping. Tech-savvy producers who prioritize quality, the Vander Zaags believe capturing quality information is key to growing better potatoes. I sat down with Kate to hear her perspective. Bill: What made you first consider yield monitoring? Kate: When we started seeing yield maps for grain, we thought immediately…

Prepping Problem Potatoes For Long-Term Storage

For the best chance of long-term storage success, potato tubers at harvest should be dry, disease free, and uniformly 48 to 60°F. Reality is rarely so kind, however. A wide variety of field and environmental factors often contribute to tubers entering storage in less than ideal condition. Tubers can be wet, infected with disease and/or too hot or too cold. In some cases, daily and hourly temperature fluctuations mean over-warm and over-cold…

Water Soluble Versus Slow-Release Fertilizers

Not all phosphorus-based fertilizers are created equal. For this reason, achieving adequate and well-timed phosphorus nutrition in potatoes can prove complicated and – if managed incorrectly – unnecessarily costly. Consider this: if two fertilizers contain the same total amount of elemental phosphorus but that phosphorus is held in different compounds that react differently in soil, the fertilizers may vary widely in how much and when their phosphorus is available to plants. This…

Best Investment? Clean Seed

The dollars and cents of farm business success aren’t always as simple as they might first appear. While minimizing costs can seem like a smart business decision, it is exactly the opposite if that up-front savings ends up costing crop quality and/or yield. The purchase of seed is a perfect example: while it can be tempting to buy the least costly seed potatoes available, investing in high quality, tested, disease-free seed will…

Inefficient Washlines = Wasted Dollars

Enormous variation exists in the technology, efficiency and quality of potato washlines. In my travels through hundreds of farmers’ and processors’ packing lines, I’ve seen it all: washlines that are ultra-automated and modern, others that are jimmy-rigged and homemade; washlines that are effective and efficient, others that remove only a fraction of the dirt and rock. The return-on-investment of a quality washline is obvious and immediate. As the very first components of…

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