At the Root, Potato Industry News Spud Smart Winter 2011

At the Root

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Product News

Syngenta Canada Offers New Fungicide
Syngenta Crop Protection Canada Inc. has announced that Bravo ZN, a new formulation of Bravo fungicide that includes zinc, will be available to potato growers across Canada in 2011. Bravo ZN supports the development of healthier potato plants, resulting in improved defence against early blight. “Potato growers have long appreciated the disease control that Bravo delivers and have also long recognized the advantages of zinc. Bravo ZN brings these benefits together,” says Fernando Olea, brand manager, Fungicides and Insecticides, Syngenta Canada. Bravo ZN is a broad-spectrum, contact fungicide offering protection against late blight, Botrytis vine rot and early blight. It is an effective fungicide that should be incorporated as the base of a preventative program. Bravo ZN includes the unique WeatherStik technology, a patented surfactant technology from Syngenta, which maximizes the product’s ability to stick to plant surfaces to better prevent infection, even after heavy rainfall. For optimal convenience, Bravo ZN is a liquid formulation, eliminating dust, improving mixability and eradicating the issue of plugged nozzles.

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Business News

AVEBE and BASF to Collaborate
Potato starch manufacturer AVEBE and plant biotechnology company BASF Plant Science have announced a research and development alliance in plant biotechnology. The companies are combining their competencies in biotechnology discovery and GM potato breeding with the aim of bringing farmers modern and fungal-resistant starch potato varieties. They will start developing a late blight-resistant amylopectin starch potato. The companies expect the first varieties to be available on the European market by 2019. “The cooperation underlines our strategy and our aim to increase efficiency in farming by bringing BASF’s competence in plant biotechnology to farmers around the world in cooperation with the best partners,” said Marc Ehrhardt, senior vice-president of BASF Plant Science.

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Industry News

Potatoes Aid Weight Loss
Research just released by the University of California, Davis and the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology demonstrates that people may include potatoes in their diet and still lose weight. The study sought to gain a better understanding of the role potatoes and the glycemic index play in weight loss, largely because some have questioned the inclusion of potatoes in a weight-loss regimen due to the vegetable’s designation as a high-glycemic-index food. “The results of this study confirm what health professionals and nutrition experts have said for years; when it comes to weight loss, it is not about eliminating a certain food or food groups, rather, it is reducing calories that counts,” says lead researcher Britt Burton-Freeman. “There is no evidence that potatoes, when prepared in a healthful manner, contribute to weight gain. In fact, we are seeing that they can be part of a weight-loss program.” One medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving, boasts more potassium (620g) than a banana, provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45 per cent), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

PVY Testing Required for New Brunswick
In consultation with the New Brunswick potato industry, Regulation 82-70 of the Potato Disease Eradication Act has been amended to include mandatory post-harvest laboratory testing for Potato Virus Y of all seed potato varieties (classes Pre-Elite, Elite I, Elite II, Elite III, Elite IV and Foundation) that are to be planted in New Brunswick beginning in 2011. Pre-Elite and Elite I lots are exempt from post-harvest testing only if they are to be planted on the farm unit where they were originally produced. These regulation changes were initiated by industry stakeholders to assist in monitoring, controlling and reducing the level of PVY planted in the province. All seed lots intended for planting in the New Brunswick 2011 crop (including lots from other Canadian provinces and the United States), will require virus testing for all strains of PVY. Testing must be done in a laboratory recognized for seed potato certification testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or other laboratories deemed equivalent. Producers are encouraged to investigate and secure their 2011 seed stocks early, as supplies of low-virus seed of some varieties may be limited.

Canada Developing Potato Disease Standard
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has established a Potato Sector Biosecurity Advisory Group, which will guide the development of a voluntary National Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the potato sector. The CFIA established this group in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Potato Committee Executive of the Canadian Horticultural Council, other potato industry organizations and provincial departments of agriculture. The new standard will complement existing farm-level programmes and will take approximately two years to develop.

The standard will be a voluntary tool that provides a consistent approach across Canada for identifying and mitigating the risks for transmitting disease and pests; facilitates advancements in the industry’s identification and knowledge of the risks associated with pathogens and pests; identifies outcomes to achieve, and measures that will support, improved biosecurity practices; and helps identify potential gaps in current control measures, which can help growers improve the control of potato diseases and pests at the farm level.

Canadian Potato Production—Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada’s most recent production figures show that Canadian farmers harvested 344,000 acres (139,217 hectares) of potatoes in 2010, resulting in 97,279,000 hundredweights (4,412,575 metric tonnes) being produced. This is down four per cent from 2009. The national yield increased one per cent from 2009. Area planted was down four per cent and area harvested was down five per cent. British Columbia experienced the largest decrease in production—down 48 per cent. Close to half of the planted area was not harvested due to extreme weather conditions during harvest. Saskatchewan showed the next greatest decrease, down 22 per cent, due to both area and yield decreases. Ontario’s production was up four per cent because of an increase in the area planted. For the second year in a row, the value of the Canadian potato crop broke the billion dollar mark to come in at $1.1 billion. This is down from the record crop of 2008 at $1.2 billion.

Breeding Resistance to Late Blight
Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Crop Science Initiative have made a discovery that could instigate a paradigm shift in breeding resistance to late blight. Paul Birch of the University of Dundee and his team at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, the University of Dundee, and the University of Aberdeen have developed a new approach to breeding resistance to the mould-like organism Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight. Through their work on the interactions between potato plants and P.infestans, Birch and his team have come up with a completely new approach to breeding resistance to late blight in potatoes. Working in collaboration with colleagues at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, this approach will be taken forward in a new project to identify resistance in potato plants, which could then be used for breeding new resistant varieties. It is also hoped it will be possible to combine resistance to late blight with resistance to nematodes in a single GM variety.

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People News

CHC Appoints New VP for Potato Section
Canadian Horticultural Council potato committee chair Keith Kuhl has announced that Mark Drouin has been named vice-president of potatoes. “Mark is no stranger to horticulture and, particularly, the potato industry,” says Kuhl. Securing Drouin was a joint initiative between the CHC and United Potato Growers of Canada. Though their objectives and areas of activity are quite distinct, the two organizations have many members in common. In addition to his role as vice-president of potatoes for CHC, Drouin will serve as the general manager for UPGC. “Mark is joining us at a key time for United, as we work on developing a strong program for our 2011 United Partners Program seminars across the country early in the new year,” says UPGC chair Ray Keenan. “He will also be building on our Canadian potato production and marketing data and analysis, and these initiatives will result in excellent information for Canadian potato growers and other industry members.”

P.E.I. Potato Board Elects New Executive
The P.E.I. Potato Board has elected Gary Linkletter as chairman of the board. Linkletter currently serves on the board of directors of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and as vice-chair of the Canadian Horticultural Council’s Potato Committee. Brian Ching is to serve as the new vice-chairman of the board and Wayne Diamond is named secretary-treasurer. They are joined by new directors Kirk Shea, Donald Godfrey and Colin MacAulay. The other board directors are past-chairman Boyd Rose, Peter Van Nieuwenhuyzen, Barry Green, Fulton Hamill, Daryl Wilkie and Harris Callaghan.

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