BusinessA Change of Scenery

A Change of Scenery

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[deck]Airport chosen for site of this year’s Potato Growers of Alberta South Field Day.[/deck]

Potato Growers of Alberta opted for a change in venue and format for its annual South Field Day on Aug. 14, choosing the Taber Airport just outside Taber, Alta., for the site of this year’s event.

The field day attracted more than 130 people and was held in collaboration with Kinniburgh Spray Services, a local aerial crop protection firm that sponsored the location for the event. The company had several spray planes on display — a definite crowd pleaser!

Also featured were large machinery displays from Western Tractor and Rocky Mountain Equipment as well as a planter from Chin Coulee Spud Farms of Coaldale, Alta.  In addition, local grower, Lyle Ypma of SLM Spud Farms in Taber showed off his latest custom-built harvester. Ypma has built three harvester models over the past five years, modifying the equipment to accommodate his specific requirements for farming more than 3,000 acres of processing potatoes.

Farmers Edge, Trimble and Sunrise Ag of Taber were also on hand with displays focusing on variable rate technology.  Company reps explained how growers can maximize their production potential efficiently by managing specific areas with different yield potentials within the field, as well as how accessing real-time data can assist with fungicide applications throughout the growing season.

Other equipment dealers participating in the event included Glas Equipment, Horizon Implements, Banga’s Equipment Canada and Growers Supply.

New Varieties on View

Freshly dug varieties from the PGA fresh potato trials were also on view. All of the varieties are cooked and taste-tested by PGA staff members, who distribute potatoes harvested from the test plots to local food banks. According to organizers, the Butterfly potatoes, a yellow variety, were a hit in terms of taste. Bordeaux, a red-skinned variety with yellow flesh, looked to be a good performer, while the nutty-flavoured Hot Purples were said to retain their beet colour when cooked.

During the field day, I spoke with Andy Hofer, a member of the Enchant Hutterite Colony who grows Sangre, a fresh potato variety marketed through Thomas Fresh. He said consistency in producing an ideally sized, tasty potato is the key to Sangre’s success. Hofer, who’s been attending the PGA South Field Day for several years, said he was definitely in favour of trying something new and different for this year’s event.

The field day featured a lunch sponsored by ATB Financial and Miyanaga Farms. Shaun Kinniburgh, president of Kinniburgh Spray Services, concluded the day’s events by offering a free ride in one of the company’s spray planes. The winner was announced through a friendly auction that raised $800 for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. This was in recognition of Kinniburgh’s two brothers who were recovering in the hospital after a kidney transplant procedure.

Lorena Pahl is the executive director of the Alberta Seed Growers’ Association. She attended this year’s PGA South Field Day event in Taber, Alta., and provides this report.

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