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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…

Duane Gorman, Gorman Controls

Maximizing Profit Depends on Managing Suberization

Ensuring optimal suberization when tubers enter storage allows a crop to maintain maximum quality and weight with minimum loss to disease, ultimately translating to maximum profit. Despite high-tech equipment and careful attention, some tubers inevitably become wounded or bruised during harvest. Once damage occurs, a tuber begins to heal by synthesizing and then depositing a waterproof layer of suberin, an essential plant biopolymer, on the wounded cell walls. The suberin is nature’s…

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…

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