Prince Edward Island
By Alex Docherty – Chairman, Prince Edward Island Potato Board
The P.E.I. Potato Technology Expo was held in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on Feb. 26-27. Unlike many previous years, the weather was great for travel and there was an excellent turnout for both the seminar sessions and the trade show.
The conference was well attended by industry members who heard from a number of keynote speakers, including Tom Wolf of Agrimetrix Research and Training speaking on Optimizing Sprayer Performance While Reducing Environmental Concerns and Lane Stockbrugger, a farmer from Englefeld, Sask., speaking on Social License to Farm from the Farmer Perspective.
The show floor was crowded with visitors in to look at a wide variety of new technology for potato production in the field and packing out the final product. The next P.E.I. Potato Technology Expo will be held in February, 2018.
Meeting season is in full swing and Prince Edward Island Potato Board directors and staff have been gathering information and representing grower interests at sessions covering a wide variety of topics.
These topics include: changes to environmental regulations on the Island; opportunities for research collaboration; working with other members of the Canadian Horticultural Council to provide feedback on pest control product re-evaluations being conducted by Pest Management Regulatory Agency in order to retain access to critical crop protectant tools; and providing suggestions for changes to the Crop Insurance Program.
There have been many learning sessions held for growers as well, such as opportunities to update Pesticide Applicator Licenses, Soil and Crop Improvement Sessions, and the Federation of Agriculture Annual General Meeting, just to name a few. The P.E.I. Potato Board and the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries also held a Wireworm Research and Extension Seminar on March 14.
Our Processing Committee has started contract negotiations for the 2016 season.
Best wishes to all for a safe and successful planting season.
By Louis Ouellette – Market Information Co-ordinator, Potatoes New Brunswick
Many storage sheds in New Brunswick were filled to capacity this past fall as yields surpassed the expectations of many growers. The current crop of potatoes is storing well with a few spotty issues primarily caused by frost late in the harvest season and a large rain event that happened late in September.
The New Brunswick Seed Potato Growers held their annual Seed Day on Jan. 26 in Grand Falls, N.B. The room was filled with growers, agronomists, and provincial and federal government officials. Topics that were discussed ranged from new varieties, ongoing seed research trials and discussions on the current potato virus Y (PVY) situation in New Brunswick. A seed management workshop was held March 9 in Florenceville, N.B.
Quality processing and fresh potatoes come from excellent seed sources and the ongoing work between the province’s seed growers and industry experts continues to make New Brunswick a leader in the seed potato sector.
N.B. seed growers should also take pride in another successful year in regards to the PVY levels in the province’s potato crop. Approximately 93 per cent of the 2015 crop was below the three per cent virus level, and that lead the industry to further lower its virus cap to four per cent from five per cent in the previous years.
The New Brunswick Potato Industry Transformation Initiative is a project that started two years ago with many goals, with one of them being to increase the yields in the potato sector. Significant increases in yields have been seen in the first two years of this project. Some of this can be attributed to excellent weather, but the rest is a direct result of the collective grower group accepting the challenge head-on and making the right management decisions. More exiting results are expected from this ongoing project.
Potatoes New Brunswick once again hosted the 2016 Potato Trade Show and Conference on Feb. 4 in Grand Falls, N.B. The event saw record attendance, with growers from all three sectors from N.B., Maine and Quebec enjoying a full agenda of conference speakers. The trade show vendors had their booths filled all day speaking with growers. The day was highlighted a motivational presentation by guest speaker and retired NHL player Ryan Walter.
By Clement Lalancette – General Manager, Federation des Producteurs de Pommes de Terre du Quebec
2016 is starting out as a difficult time for the potato producers in Quebec. Even though the yields for the 2015 crop were exceptional, the price for the fresh market potatoes continues to be very low. It’s also been hard for the open market in the processing sector as inventory remains very high due to all this production. Processing potato stock holdings were 45 per cent higher in February than they were a year previously.
In the fresh sector, as a result of the prices for potatoes being low compared to other vegetables, the movement has good and potato stock holdings are about average. Consumers seem to be getting accustomed to low prices on potatoes, and we have not been able to ride the wave of high prices for other vegetables because of the heavy potato inventory in the eastern provinces.
As of early March, there had been a few meetings with french fry and chip processors but negotiations have not been easy due to the sizable inventory. Quebec’s potato producers will need to get a price increase from contractors in order to cover the rising costs of production. The impact of the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar seems to be stronger on the price of imported chemicals, than it does for potatoes being exported down south.
By Eugenia Banks and Peter VanderZaag – Owner, Sunrise Potato Storage
The 2016 Ontario Potato Conference and Trade Show was held March 1 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph, Ont. Approximately 225 growers, crop consultants and industry personnel took part, with attendees including delegates from Quebec and Prince Edward Island. The annual event is supported by the Ontario Potato Board.
There were 32 exhibitors at the trade show, which included displays of new potato varieties and the latest in potato production technology. The conference is an ever-expanding event that is very well supported by the Ontario potato industry. Comments received from numerous attendees indicated that it provided excellent, timely information for growers.
Among the many highlights of this conference was the inclusion of potato producers as speakers in the program.
Charles Emre, a fresh market potato producer from Simcoe, Ont., gave a practical presentation on using rotation crops for bio-fumigation with a cover crop of mustard followed by a crop of millet which is mowed frequently to also improve soil health and organic matter. His detailed practical technologies are aimed at improving his soil for the benefit of tomorrow and future generations.
Jake Hoogland, a seed potato producer from Alberta, captivated the audience with his presentation on the use of drones on his farm. In his opinion, a drone is a great “extra eye” on the fields from an aerial perspective that enables growers to see exactly how their crops are performing and identify problem areas. Hoogland talked about how in event of an outbreak of late blight on a farm, for example, drones can identify disease hot spots in the very early stages.
Craig Hunter, a researcher and crop protection expert from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, addressed the PMRA’s proposed re-evaluation of chlorothalonil that could seriously restrict the use of this fungicide on potatoes. Hunter is gathering data and information from farmers to put together a brief arguing why the move should be viewed as both unnecessary and detrimental to the Canada’s vegetable industry.
Other topics and presenters included:
- Bringing Seed Potato to Your Farm: What to Watch For; Neil Gudmestad, North Dakota State University
- Seed Handling and Tuber Yield; Loretta Mikitzel, New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries
- Future Global Challenges and Opportunities for the Potato. Peter VanderZaag, Sunrise Potato
- Biology and Management of Bacterial Soft Rot; Amy Charkowski, University of Wisconsim
- Late Blight: All You Need to Know to Win the Battle. Rick Peters, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
- What’s New in Sprout Inhibitors; George Burkholder, RGB Technologies
By Dan Sawatzky – General Manager, Keystone Potato Producers Association
Mild weather has continued through to the end of February coupled with below average snowfall. Although the mild temperatures have been welcome, we would also welcome a little more precipitation.
A significant proportion of irrigation for potatoes in our province is reliant on water captured in large reservoirs filled in spring through snowmelt runoff water. Usually, using high volume pumps, these reservoirs are filled by snowmelt or by timely spring rains.
Returns on significant investment in the capture of this water and irrigation infrastructure to utilize this resource are dependent on some spring water flow. In the last 30 years since the construction of water storage in Manitoba, I can only recall two years when low water flows became a localized issue. The paradox is that with less snow over winter the benefit of earlier planting may be possible.
Overall the 2015-16 crop has been storing well with recoveries being stronger than the previous year. Overall quality continues to be good with a few exceptions due to stress from hail or localized rain events.
Usage and marketing the increase in provincial production over previous years is on schedule to permit planning of spring planting. Volumes are not likely to change substantially from last year with the exception of Cavendish Farms volume being removed from Manitoba.
Winter research planning involving the various potato sectors as well as both levels of governments with projects utilizing both public and private researchers requires coordination and co-operation. A major focus is on the improvement of yield through field variability studies that include such factors as verticillium incidence, fertility and water.
Manitoba Potato Production Days, held Jan. 26-28 in Brandon, Man., was once again well supported with 81 equipment and display booths and a total 516 in attendance. A change in floor plan this year facilitated a larger event. Thanks to all that attended.
By Desseri Ackerman – Manager, Saskatchewan Seed Potato Growers Association
Saskatchewan growers indicate that seed potatoes went into storage in very good condition and remain in very good condition.
It appears that with the warm winter in Saskatchewan, spring planting will be early. In some areas, the small amount of remaining snow may prompt growers to be out much earlier than in the past few years. In other, more northernly areas, good snow cover and good soil moisture from last fall has been reported. Overall, growers anticipate good planting conditions this year.
As in previous years, all samples of Saskatchewan seed potatoes sent to Hawaii for post-harvest testing have exhibited zero per cent virus.