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People News

P.E.I. Potato Board Elects New Executive

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has a new executive following its recent board of directors meeting. Gary Linkletter was re-elected as chairman of the board. Linkletter is currently serving his second three-year term representing the tablestock sector for the Summerside District. Alex Docherty of Skyeview Farms Ltd. is the new vice-chairman of the board representing the seed sector from the Charlottetown District. Owen Ching returns as the secretary-treasurer for the board and represents the tablestock sector for the Montague-Souris District. Also joining the board are two new directors: David Francis of Lady Fane, representing seed producers from the Summerside District; and Rodney Dingwall of Morell, representing processing growers from the Montague/Souris District.

Product News

TOMRA Introduces New Potato Sorter

TOMRA Sorting Solutions has introduced a whole new potato sorter on the market. According to the company, the Field Potato Sorter is the first effective optical sorter for unwashed potatoes. The machine uses Biometric Signature Identification technology to separate earth, stones and other materials from the potatoes. It also removes rotten potatoes. A special feature of new sorter is that the potatoes can be sorted immediately after harvesting and do not need to be washed in order to create contrast. “That’s the strength of the FPS,” says TOMRA’S Alain De Puydt. “The machine removes everything, from all clods, all foreign objects, basically everything that is not a potato.”

Bayer Offers New Foliar Fungicide

Bayer CropScience Canada has announced the registration of Luna Tranquility as a foliar fungicide for potatoes. Luna Tranquility is an all-in-one formulation that includes new and unique Group 7 (fluopyram) and proven Group 9 (pyrimethanil) modes of action. According to Bayer, Luna Tranquility provides unparalleled disease protection against the leaf spot complex (early blight and brown leaf spot), white mould and black dot. Early blight and brown leaf spot have recently become less sensitive to existing Group 11 and other Group 7 fungicides in North America, leaving potato growers with fewer effective options. Luna Tranquility offers potato growers an effective alternative to control these diseases as part of a responsible resistance management program.

Business News

McCain Idaho Plant Expansion

McCain Foods is gearing up for a $100-million reinvestment in its potato production plant in Burley, Idaho. The company supplies frozen potato and snack food products for the food-service markets and also supplies retail grocery chains with both McCain and private-label potato products. Company officials announced that they would increase the Idaho plant’s capacity by adding a third production line. The expansion is expected to create more jobs, and McCain officials confirmed that they would be buying more local potatoes for the Idaho facility. Construction for the expansion is expected to get under way in spring 2014.

Canadian growers Welcome EU Trade Deal

The Prince Edward Island potato industry welcomed the announcement of a new European trade agreement expected to result in increased Canadian exports and reduced tariffs in the years ahead. “The Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement will open new markets throughout the European Union and benefit the Canadian economy by $12 billion,” said Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. “Current European Union tariffs can impose real burdens on our exporters,” said Shea, adding that on P.E.I. agricultural exports that are worth $4.5 million annually, these tariffs can be almost 14 per cent. Shea said those tariffs and an 18 per cent surcharge on frozen french fry products will also disappear when the agreement kicks in, which could happen by 2015.

Industry News

Peru’s New Kawsay Potato Fights Anemia

Peruvian scientists have developed a potato they claim is extra-healthy. It’s called Kawsay, which means “food of life.” The variety is the result of years of work by scientists who wanted to build a better potato. According to Andina news agency, Kawsay potatoes have up to 50 per cent more micronutrients than normal potatoes, and are specially designed to help fight anemia. Andina reports that researchers are primarily working on introducing Kawsay potatoes to high-altitude regions of the Peruvian Andes, where anemia and malnutrition are serious problems.

New Approach to Combat Phytophthora

Fast new techniques for genetic identification enable a more specific control of the potato disease phytophthora — this is the theory of scientists from Wageningen UR in the Netherlands who are working to partner with industry to further analyze the genetic variation of the pathogen and link it to practical recommendations. This will allow potato growers to optimally align their choice in fungicides and resistant varieties with the strains of the pathogen that occur in their region. “It is a unique approach that offers opportunities for other crops as well,” explain phytophthora experts Huub Schepers and Geert Kessel.

Alternate Methods for Controlling Zebra Chip

Zebra chip disease in potatoes is currently being managed by controlling the potato psyllid with insecticides. But one Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist is trying to manage the disease symptoms with alternative methods and chemistries. The disease is caused by a bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which is transmitted by the psyllid, says Ron French, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist in Amarillo, Texas. French is conducting his studies using alternative controls as a part of the Zebra Chip Specialty Crop Research Initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “We are looking at three different approaches: bactericides, plant defence response and plant nutrients,” he says.

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