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Potato Sustainability Initiative Expands and Evolves

The Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) grew out of a request from McDonald’s in 2010 for its growers to track and report on the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. By 2013, the PSI had evolved into a comprehensive and groundbreaking collaboration that included customers, processors and growers in both the U.S. and Canada – a program that promoted and measured practices important to worker safety and sustainability, including water and energy…

A novel option to combat soil erosion

A spring cover crop planted at potato planting time – called a nurse crop – offers a way to reduce soil erosion during the weeks between potato planting and hilling. But what is the optimal way to grow a nurse crop to benefit the soil, the potato crop, and the grower’s bottom line? Researchers and growers in New Brunswick and Maine are working on answering that question. “The best part of the…

Banks: Ontario Variety Trial Results

Ed. note: On Sept. 4, 2017, Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board, dug up the Beeton (Ontario) Variety Trial plot that was embedded in a grower’s field. These are her observations: The flooding that occurred on June 23, as a result of a five-inch rain, kept the plants under water for 30 hours. I expected  a total loss. However the grower worked hard to save my plot and the…

PEI Potato Producers Building Soil Health Through Crop Rotation

An area of increased attention for agricultural research and changes in production practices globally is soil health. Through new technology and a better understanding of the microbial communities in soil, farmers are making changes in crop rotation, tillage, and nutrient management to foster the health of their soil. Prince Edward Island potato producers are also making changes to their production practices to improve soil health, encompassing the biological, chemical and physical qualities…

Feds fund research towards adoption of clean technologies and practices in P.E.I.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay today announced an investment of $895,000 to the East Prince Agri-Environment Association to study the beneficial environmental effects of planting willow trees along river banks, as part of potato growing systems in P.E.I. This project with the East Prince Agri-Environment Association is one of 20 new research projects supported by the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with universities and conservation groups across Canada. The…

Updated organic potato production guide available

Cornell University has released an updated version of its guide for organic potato production. The 2016 Organic Production and IPM Guide for Potatoes provides an outline of cultural and pest management practices and includes topics that have an impact on improving plant health and reducing pest problems. While the guide is written for a U.S. audience, much of the information can certainly be applied to Canadian organic potato growers’ systems.  

New publications encourage Canadian honey bee health

The Bee Health Roundtable recently published two documents related to honey bee health: Canadian Best Management Practices for Honey Bee Health is a useful manual for those interested in bee keeping. It covers a wide variety of topics, such as hive management, pest disease treatments, queen health and bee nutrition. Planting Forage for Honey Bees in Canada is a guide that provides information for farmers, road, utility and land managers, and gardeners…

Soil Health Key for Long-Term Potato Production

Across North America, most potato crop yields have been on the rise in the past few decades. In parts of Canada though, data has revealed that yields in some areas have either decreased or remained stagnant, especially in New Brunswick. Soil scientists attribute this to waning soil health due in part to short rotations and soil erosion. As a result, improving soil health is top of mind for many producers. The Importance…

Strain Tracking

Through a national initiative, Canadian researchers have found that late blight strains have shifted dramatically across the country since 2009. The researchers have also identified important differences among the strains in such characteristics as fungicide sensitivity, host preferences, and aggressiveness on potato tubers and foliage. And their findings are making a vital difference in late blight prevention and management. The research is led by Rick Peters, a research scientist with Agriculture and…

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