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People News

Carl Hoverson Becomes New NPPGA Chairman

For the second consecutive year, a large-scale processing potato grower will head the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. Jeff VanRay from Pingree, N.D. has passed the gavel to Larimore, N.D. grower Carl Hoverson. Hoverson Farms produces over 5,000 acres of potatoes, nearly all russets, for processing at the Simplot fry plant in Grand Forks. Hoverson says he would like to see increased promotion of Red River Valley red potatoes, and continuation of a strong research program.

Product News

Bayer Obtains Approval for EverGol

Bayer CropScience has been granted the first regulatory approval worldwide for its new fungicidal seed treatment solution EverGol, which contains the active ingredient penflufen, in Canada. The product sets a new standard in the control of Rhizoctonia solani, which also causes the most important disease of Canadian canola. Products based on EverGol are characterized by a comprehensive and complete spectrum of activity. Bayer plans to launch EverGol in Canada before the end of 2012. Last year, the company announced the registration of Emesto, a seed treatment product for potatoes with the same active ingredient, in the United Kingdom. Products from the EverGol/Emesto family are expected to be granted approval in more than 40 countries globally, including the growing markets for seed treatment compounds in Latin America and Asia. Bayer CropScience is developing customer-oriented solutions in the EverGol/Emesto brand family for economically significant crops such as potatoes, canola, soybeans, corn, cereals, cotton, rice and pulses. The market launches for these products are scheduled for 2012 onwards.

Business News

CanadaGAP and CPMA Food Safety Programs to Merge

The Canadian Horticultural Council and Canadian Produce Marketing Association will integrate the CanadaGAP (On-Farm Food Safety) Program and the CPMA Repacking and Wholesale Food Safety Program. Integrating the two programs will result in some key benefits for the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry, including:

  • adopting an industry-wide food safety system that meets customer requirements;
  • ensuring consistent and complementary food safety standards from producers and packers to wholesalers and repackers;
  • lessening the confusion around overlapping programs or requirements;
  • meeting the needs of companies that pack and repack product;
  • maintaining strong linkages between the various levels of the value chain;
  • competing more effectively with other internationally-recognized programs whose scope reaches further along the value chain; and
  • integrating audits, audit checklists, auditor training, government technical reviews and international benchmarking processes, which will save time and money.

The two programs will be integrated under an autonomous corporate entity that will function independently of both CHC and CPMA. Work on this initiative will continue through 2012–13, with funding assistance from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative under Growing Forward. The integrated program could be available by 2013–14.

Potatoes Worth Over $1 Billion to the P.E.I. Economy

The potato industry is big business on Prince Edward Island—that is a well-known fact. Industry stakeholders can now attach numbers to that statement. “We have several examples we always talk about when we explain the importance of potatoes to P.E.I.,” says Greg Donald, general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, “but these numbers all have to do with production and farm gate value and do not necessarily mean much to the average resident on P.E.I.” Examples of this include the following facts: 85,600 acres of potatoes are grown on Prince Edward Island, potatoes are responsible for over 50 per cent of farm cash receipts in the province and the Island produces over 25 per cent of all the potatoes in Canada. “We are pleased that we now have easily-understood numbers that demonstrate the importance of our industry to the local economy,” says Donald.

Industry News

CFIA 2011 Survey Finds No Detections of PCN

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has completed all potato cyst nematode soil sampling and testing for the 2011 seed potato crop, and PCN was not detected. Over 44,000 soil samples were collected and analyzed as part of Canada’s 2011 national PCN detection survey. Through the continued support of Canadian seed potato growers and other stakeholders, the CFIA tested approximately 78 per cent of the 2011 Canadian seed potato production area. The Government of Canada is committed to working with stakeholders to protect plant health and ensure continued market access for Canadian seed potatoes and other potentially-affected commodities.

New Website Provides Information on Potato Virus Y

The United States Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with three major universities, has launched a website, www.potatovirus.com, to disseminate information related to Potato Virus Y. This information will prove useful to all groups of people who need information about PVY, including potato growers, scientists, people working within the potato industry and consumers of potatoes and potato products. The contributors say that in the past decade, PVY has re-emerged as a serious disease where seed potatoes are grown in the United States. The two major contributing factors are widespread acceptance of potato varieties that express mild or no leaf mosaic symptoms of PVY infection, making detection of infected seed potatoes very difficult, and displacement of the ordinary PVY strain by necrotic strains and recombinant strains (genes from both strains), once thought to be excluded from the United States.

Teagasc Applying to Field Test GM Potatoes in EU

The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Teagasc, has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency for a licence to undertake a series of field studies using GM potatoes resistant to potato late blight disease, to determine the potential impact this technology could have on ecosystems. Research confirms that GM late blight-resistant potatoes have the potential to significantly reduce the fungicide load on the environment and provide an economic advantage to farmers. “It is not enough to simply look at the benefits without also considering the potential costs. We need to investigate whether there are long-term impacts associated with this specific GM crop and, critically, we need to gauge how the late blight disease itself responds. This is not just a question being asked in Ireland. The same issues are arising across Europe,” says Teagasc researcher Ewen Mullins.

Potato Genome Mapping Benefits to be Seen Within a Decade

Growers could start seeing the benefits of sequencing the potato genome within the next decade, with varieties offering new traits such as potato cyst nematode resistance or improved tuber shape, according to Glenn Bryan, leader of potato genetics at the James Hutton Institute. Key traits including disease resistance, nutritional value, quality and yield can be identified using information from the mapped potato genome. Plants that have these traits or a combination of these traits can then be included in breeding programs.

NASA, AAFC and U of M Working On Soil Moisture Study

Two planes piloted by NASA will be flying several times a week  throughout the summer over south-central Manitoba as part of a soil moisture study that also involves the U.S. Department of Agriculture, AAFC and the University of Manitoba. The goal of the project is to validate soil moisture data from instruments that will be placed on a satellite to be launched in 2014. Fifty temporary soil moisture monitoring stations have been set up to provide continuous measurements over the six weeks that the planes will be collecting data. Last summer, AAFC installed permanent soil monitoring stations on a number of private farms in the region, which will be used to assess the satellite data after the launch. Ultimately, NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite will be used to produce maps of global soil moisture, temperature and freeze/thaw states. These maps will help researchers monitor surface soil moisture conditions that impact agricultural production and update models used to predict crop yields.

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