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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…

Preparation Matters: Get Your Storage Ready for Harvest

With harvest season looming, it’s time to make sure your storage facilities will support rather than compromise your tuber quality. Start with inspection. Ideally, any major issues or necessary repairs were identified and rectified when last year’s stored product was removed from storage this spring. If not, repairs must be priority one. Besides fixing obvious issues that could let in pests, moisture, cold and pathogens, check for loose insulation or metal, as…

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….

Lab Testing: Unfortunate Cost or Priority Investment?

No matter how excellent your product, your business will only be as successful as the customer service you offer. Though that sentence is so often repeated it’s become cliché, it is also absolute reality. For seed potato growers, offering excellent customer service means anticipating and meeting all of a customer’s needs, from reliable product to knowledgeable answers to seed quality verifications and regulatory requirements. Seed potato customers’ needs differ depending on both…

Climate Change, Cover Crops and Carbon Credits

The benefits of cover crops to soil health and, consequently, farm productivity are well discussed and widely known among scientists and farmers alike. Increasing soil’s organic carbon through cover cropping reduces erosion, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, reduces nitrogen leaching, improves soil health and structure, and increases soil’s water holding capacity. Cover crops can also make farms more resilient to extreme weather events associated with climate change. But, cover crops do much more than…

Overcoming Stagnating Yield Needs to Start With Producers

For the past three decades, potato yields in Eastern Canada have been falling worryingly behind those of other regions. In New Brunswick, average yields have gone up just 1.4 cwt/acre per year since the early 1980s, compared to about 4 cwt/acre in Alberta and Manitoba and at least that high in the U.S. In order to remain competitive in today’s global market, eastern Canadian producers need to offset their rapidly increasing input…

Duane Gorman, Gorman Controls

Sugar: Good for Tuber Survival, Not So Good for French Fries!

A tuber’s complicated sugar storage mechanism is designed to maximize survival through dormancy and support successful growth the following spring. To translate that mechanism into something that best suits potato production priorities, producers must first understand how sugars develop and change through tuber growth and dormancy. Potato plants produce sucrose via photosynthesis. This sucrose is transported to tubers where it is converted into fructose and glucose and eventually into starch. The process…

Matt Alexander, Volm Companies

OEE: Time Well Spent

In our Insiders article two months ago, we talked equipment maintenance: why it matters, how to stay on top of it, and what to prioritize. I mentioned OEE, or Overall Equipment Effectiveness, as an important metric every company should use to analyze their equipment assets’ performance. Because I’ve received quite a few questions about OEE since that article was posted online, let’s delve a little deeper into why OEE is time well…

Bill Menkveld, Greentronics

Low Investment, High Return Makes Yield Mapping Easy Math

With among the highest input costs and some of the greatest potential returns of any field crop, potatoes offer the biggest bang for one’s yield mapping and precision management buck. Yield maps are not just an intellectual exercise in raw data; they actually map dollars and cents. A yield map breaks a field into visible areas of higher and lower productivity. Looking closely at each area, a grower can start to figure…

Growing Relationships

In today’s ultra-fast, highly digitalized world, it’s sometimes easy to overlook how much real, human to human relationship still matters. In life, in business and in agriculture, taking time to communicate openly, develop trust and build rapport is vital to success. Whether you are a potato grower, a seed producer, a retailer, a consumer, or – like us – a variety marketing company, you are a key player in the potato production…

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