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The Impact of Heat and Drought on the 2016 Ontario Potato Crop

Each growing season is different but the 2016 season was like none we have ever seen before. Planting started later than usual due to the cold weather. The early crop planted by the middle of April in southwestern Ontario took more than three weeks to emerge due to cool soil temperatures. Growers were caught off guard when snow fell by the middle of May. The season was off to a bumpy start….

USDA clears new GMO potato variety

A new potato variety that’s genetically modified to withstand bruising has been cleared for commercialization without undergoing USDA’s deregulatory process for biotech crops. The agency has advised the potato’s developer, Calyxt, the cultivar is not a “regulated article” under federal law because it doesn’t contain genes from plant pests. Because most commercial biotech crops incorporate genes from plant pests, they were subject to environmental analysis and a risk assessment from USDA before…

Sorting the rocks from the spuds

Up until this fall, Alex Docherty, chairman of the PEI Potato Board and a potato farmer in Elmwood, P.E.I., would do what most potato farmers on the Island still do today — hire rock pickers. This year, he purchased a Spudnik AirSep Harvester, a piece of equipment instead that eliminates one of the more mundane tasks of the potato harvest — separating the rocks from the spuds. “It’s an incredible piece of equipment,”…

Protecting Your Investment

While some outside the industry may consider a potato grower’s work to be done after harvest, producers know that’s only the first half of the job. Properly storing potatoes and understanding the various storage requirements for tablestock and processing potatoes and the varieties within those sectors is paramount for success, and also for maintaining a competitive edge in securing customers and meeting contract obligations. Robert Coffin, the noted Canadian potato researcher and…

New Tools for Bruise-Free Storage

This season, growers are steeling themselves for challenging storage conditions, following wet weather in many areas of Canada. But even if weather can’t be controlled, to some extent, bruising can—which could mean an improved crop heading into storage. Smart Spud Moncton-based Masitek Instruments Inc. is a private technology company offering customized and replicated devices to help identify root cause failures related to shocks in bottling, cracks in eggs and bruising in produce….

Damage Control

Gary Linkletter is chairman of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board and a partner of Linkletter Farms Ltd. He farms 1,500 acres of fresh-pack potatoes near Summerside, P.E.I. Mark VanOostrum is the field manager and quality supervisor for W.D. Potato Ltd. in Beeton, Ont. He oversees 50 growers and 15,000 acres of chip-stock potato production in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Andrew Kazakoff is a member of the Saskatchewan…

Harvest Heads-Up: Bruise Management

It’s all about appearance these days, says Shawn Brenn, president of Brenn-B Farms Ltd. in Ontario. Tolerance for bruising from retailers is decreasing, and grades are getting tougher every year. “The competition is crazy. Not only are retailers competing on price, now they’re competing on quality. They want the best product at the best price,” says Brenn. Brenn’s family-owned operation has been providing potato packs to retail, wholesale and the food service…

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