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Our spring 2017 issue features several stories related to the planting season, including the importance of soil health, the ins and outs of water management, and introducing Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s 2017 new releases. Also, read the latest on how a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could impact Canadian potato growers. All this and more in the spring 2017 issue of Spud Smart.

 

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Should Seed Potato Growers start testing for Dickeya?

The potato disease Dickeya can be detected by laboratory testing — but is there enough of it present to justify the higher costs? That is the question for Canadian seed potato growers exporting to the United States who are increasingly asked for the test. It’s a relatively new threat to North American potato production. The invasive pathogen Dickeya dianthicola — not to be confused with blackleg causing Dickeya solani — was first…

Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

The Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved on Friday, May 12 the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company. The means that J.R. Simplot Co.’s Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes could be planted in Maine fields at any time. By adding genes from a wild potato plant, these potatoes were created. These potato types are designed to…

Dicamba drift a new danger for potato growers

Crop damage caused by herbicide drift should be a risk on Manitoba potato producers’ radar this year. Soybean producers are gearing up to plant Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans following European Union approval last summer. The soybeans are tolerant to both glyphosate and dicamba herbicides. But dicamba drift can cause irreparable damage in neighbouring potato crops, said Andy Robinson, a North Dakota State University extension potato specialist, during a presentation on herbicide…

Farm succession skips a generation

Knowing an opportunity when you see it is key to building a successful business, say two Prince Edward Island brothers. So are preparation and confidence in your skills. When the opening came to purchase their grandfather’s farm near Summerside and walk into a turn-key potato operation, Bryan and Kyle Maynard knew it was their chance. “When the opportunity came up, we were both excited to take this on,” 31-year-old Kyle says of…

New laser scanner to zap toxic french fries

Amid growing concern about the discovery of cancer-causing chemicals in potato chips and french fries, a young scientist at the University of Brussels has developed a new laser system that scans peeled potatoes in the factory to detect toxic compounds and prevent them from reaching the consumer. At present, raw potatoes that produce an excess of the carcinogenic chemical acrylamide cannot be detected in a fast, sensitive and non-destructive way. This new…

McCain Foods USA Announces Expansion of Burley, Idaho Facility

McCain Foods USA will expand its production capacity for frozen french fries in North America. The location of the expansion is McCain’s current plant in Burley, Idaho where it has been doing business for 20 years.  Capital investments to support the expansion total more than USD$200 million to expand its state-of-the-art production facility.  With the expansion, McCain expects to create more than 180 new positions in Burley directly. McCain officials said in…

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…

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…

Building a better potato farm, one decision at a time

In every business, there are front-runners and there are followers. Motivated by passion and unafraid of learning, Kate Vander Zaag, and her husband Peter, have never been ones to sit back and wait for others to forge the path ahead. Farming together in Alliston, Ont. since 1990, they are fearless about investing their brainpower to constantly build a better farm. The Vander Zaags share flexible roles and responsibilities (Peter tends to handle…

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