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Solar Sensors: A Less Stressful, More Consistent Way to Plant and Harvest

Mickelsen Farms in Idaho Falls, Idaho keeps five eight-row planters running around the clock to get their 10,000 acres of potatoes into the ground. Frustrated by inconsistent emergence, they opted to give sonar sensors a try on their planters two years ago. My guess? A decade from now, pretty much everyone is going to be following Mickelsen Farms’ sonar sensing lead, and lots of farmers are going to be using sonar sensors…

A Wide World Awaits: Why Looking Beyond the U.S. Market Matters to Canadian Potatoes

For decades, Canadian farmers have relied on U.S. markets to purchase the vast majority of our country’s exported agricultural product. Potatoes are no exception: a whopping 86 per cent (totalling $1.37B) of all exported potatoes and potato products, of which the lion’s share is frozen fries, headed south across the border last year. But, with NAFTA still unresolved, harsh new tariffs now targeting Canadian steel and aluminum, and trade talks of all…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Maximizing Potato Yield Starts at Planting

Improved planting technology is coming to a potato field near you. Here’s why you might want to be on the leading edge of these technologies. Uniform crop emergence is key to optimizing field management all season long. Plants that emerge consistently allow hilling, spraying, irrigation and harvest to occur at the right timing across the entire crop, promoting healthier plants, optimum tuber set and more efficient harvest. Achieving emergence consistency depends on…

Arm Yourself Against PVY

Canadian potato growers should keep an extra watchful eye out for potato virus Y (PVY) this coming season. Though PVY has been a costly issue for decades, winter test results show a concerning increase in the disease in certain regions over the past couple years, likely due to newer, more aggressive PVY strains such as PVYNTN, delayed harvests and higher than normal overwintering of aphids. PVY impacts both yield and, when infection…

Building Momentum for Canadian Potatoes in International Markets

As domestic potato consumption slows but production continues to grow, finding lucrative export markets for Canada’s fresh, frozen and seed potatoes is a vital and increasing priority. The vast majority of Canada’s potato exports – approximately 91 per cent of our fresh potato exports and 84 per cent of our seed potato exports in 2015/2016 – travel south to U.S. customers. To date, bilateral trade agreements are keeping this trade route smooth….

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

3D Bin Mapping: The Future is Now

We’ve all heard it said that knowledge is power. When it comes to storing potatoes, knowledge translates to something equally important: dollars. Advanced harvest tracking and 3D storage mapping technology now allows accurate-to-the-truckload tracing of potatoes from where they were grown in a field to exactly where they are stored in a bin. There are all kinds of reasons why having at-a-click access to your potato pile’s side-map, top-map and every angle…

What’s Holding Up Yield Monitoring?

Compared to other technologies and equipment, yield monitoring is a relatively inexpensive way to get immediately actionable information about a crop field. Yet, uptake of the technology remains fairly low in potato fields. Why aren’t potato growers making use of the technology when it’s such a high value crop, the cost to add a yield monitor to an existing GPS/Steering enabled system is less than $10,000, and there’s plenty of technical and…

Potato Industry Moving Towards Earlier Generation Seed

The certification process for growing seed potatoes in Canada is designed to ensure seed stocks remain healthy, pure and true-to-variety. Understanding how the replication process works and investing in an early generation of seed potatoes can make a huge difference to a commercial grower’s success. Seed potato production starts out in a sterile lab, where disease-free tissue samples of a given variety are cultured to develop the first or ‘nuclear’ generation of…

Dry Harvest Conditions = Near-Term and Long-Term Challenges

The year 2017 may very well be remembered as the year the rain just didn’t come. Across much of Canada, conditions as we near potato harvest are notably dry and hot. With the exception of cooler, wetter than normal conditions in certain areas of Ontario, much of the country has seen little rain since May and June. Unfortunately, dry conditions limit yield, challenge growers at harvest, and can increase the risk of…

Sonar Sensors Shine at Harvest

By necessity, farmers are fixers, solvers and constant innovators. Day in and day out, they analyze their farms’ needs, innovate solutions to countless challenges, and dream up ways to make their operations better. So, while I’m always impressed, I’m never surprised when a producer takes an existing technology and sees its value in an entirely new way. Such is the case with sonar sensors, originally designed to control boom height on sprayers….

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