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Maintenance Matters

Second only to product quality, a packer’s primary priority should be maximizing their packing line’s up-time. Buying quality packaging equipment is just the first step in ensuring one’s packing line stays up and running. Since a packing line that fails costs time, money and resources, proactive packers stay on top of routine packing line maintenance. Servicing and maintaining one’s packing line often falls low in packers’ long to-do lists, which means most…

Success with Organics Depends on Starting with the Right Seed

The price premium on organic produce of all kinds, combined with growing interest in sustainable farming, is tempting more and more agricultural producers to look towards organics. Though initially a little slower to take off than some organic crops, commercial organic potato production is now growing steadily. Here are some points to consider before embarking on organic farming. Since not all conventional potato varieties are suitable for organic production, it is wise…

Technology and Innovation Starting to Solve Seeding Depth Challenges

Planting potatoes at a consistent depth is an important factor in achieving uniform crop emergence. Uniform emergence leads to improved crop input efficacy throughout the season and more consistent crop maturity at harvest. But, achieving consistent depth is often easier said than done: soil variation, areas of compaction, different moisture levels, and changing planter weight all make uniform seed placement challenging. Current planter technologies do a reasonable job in dealing with this…

Pre-planting Care of Seed Potatoes Can Make All the Difference

Storing and prepping seed potatoes well is a vital investment in the success of your coming year’s crop. Throughout dormancy, seed should be stored between 37-39°F/3-4°C and at 90-95% relative humidity. Several weeks prior to planting, however, growers should begin to think about pre-planting seed preparation. Seed must be warmed prior to cutting and planting to avoid shatter bruise, to help break dormancy and to accelerate crop emergence. Warming seed also helps…

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…

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