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.
The conference program included the following topics and presenters:
- 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.
- Soil Health from a Grower’s Perspective; Charles Emre, Emre Farms.
- Re-evaluation of Chlorothalonil by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency; Craig Hunter, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.
- Future Global Challenges and Opportunities for the Potato. Peter VanderZaag, Sunrise Potato.
- Biology and Management of Bacterial Soft Rot; Amy Charkowski, University of Wisconsin.
- Late Blight: All You Need to Know to Win the Battle. Rick Peters, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Charlottetown, P.E.I.
- My Experience with the Use of Drones in Potato Fields; Jake Hoogland, Hoogland Farms
- What’s New in Sprout Inhibitors; George Burkholder, RGB Technologies.
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.
Plans for the 2017 Ontario Potato Conference and Trade Show are already in the works, and exhibitors are already booking space for next year’s trade show.