IssuesFall 2011At the Root

At the Root

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People News

UPGC Hires New General Manager
The United Potato Growers of Canada has hired Kevin MacIsaac, a potato industry veteran, as its new general manager. Along with his brother, MacIsaac has owned and operated a family farm for over 25 years, producing seed, tablestock and processing potatoes in rotation with soybeans, canola and other crops. UPGC chairman Ray Keenan cites MacIsaac’s in-depth industry knowledge and experience, integrity, and leadership skills as being key factors in the board’s hiring decision. “We know he will contribute immediately to our key initiatives, such as the development of a Grower Return Index across the country and the 2012 United Potato Partners Program seminars, which will be held across Canada beginning in January 2012,” he says. Mark Drouin of Ottawa previously served as UPGC’s general manager on a part-time basis but has decided to return to a position with the federal government this fall.

Olympian Partners with P.E.I. Potatoes
During the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Summerside, P.E.I. native Heather Moyse rocketed to victory in the Women’s Bobsleigh category. Moyse is set to triumph again, this time in track cycling with the backing of the P.E.I. Potato Board. As she trains in the challenging new sport in the lead-up to the 2012 Summer Games, Moyse will promote P.E.I. Potatoes and create awareness about the nutritional value of potatoes.“We believe Heather Moyse truly exemplifies our brand,” says Kendra Mills, marketing director of the P.E.I. Potato Board. “We are from the smallest province, but our potato growers share the same commitment to excellence that Heather displays in the sport field. This partnership will allow us to make an impact internationally.”

Product News

Innate Technology Improves Varieties
The J. R. Simplot Company’s plant sciences business has announced its new Innate Technology, an all-native biotechnology platform for improving crops, which, according to the company, will lead to new, better and healthier foods. Innate Technology is a patented plant biotechnology process that works with a plant’s own genes to enhance desirable traits and to decrease less desirable traits. Innate Technology precisely targets particular traits without introducing foreign DNA.

Jet Harvest Biofungicide Approved in Canada
Jet Harvest Solutions, a Florida-based company dedicated to the development and use of agriculture biological products, is now marketing the bacterial biofungicide Bio-Save in Canada. Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has approved Bio-Save for use on potatoes in storage. Bio-Save is a freeze-dried, wettable powder fungicide used for the prevention of post-harvest decay in potatoes. The active ingredient is a bacterium called Pseudomonas syringae, which naturally occurs on the surface of many plants. Bio-Save limits decay caused by fusarium dry rot in cold and controlled-atmosphere storage environments.

New Potato-Enhancing Product Registered
Bayer CropScience has received the first worldwide registration for its new fungicidal seed treatment product Emesto (which contains the active ingredient penflufen) in the United Kingdom. Emesto will be used in potato cultivation. It has outstanding efficacy against black scurf, significantly enhances quality and increases the marketable yield. The market launch of Emesto in the United Kingdom is scheduled for the 2012 planting season. “The registration of Emesto in the U.K. is another milestone towards achieving a leading position in the global seed treatment market,” says Martin Gruss, a member of Bayer’s seed treatment leadership team and responsible for portfolio management. “We are confident that we will obtain approvals for Emesto in more than 30 potato-producing countries in and outside the European Union.” For the potato-producing and processing industry, the Emesto product family provides improved storability, size, shape and skin-setting of potatoes—important aspects for the sustainable production of potatoes.

Business News

Work Begins on New P.E.I. Laboratory
A leading company specializing in potato variety development and potato seed production is setting up a research and development facility in Prince Edward Island, according to P.E.I. Agriculture Minister George Webster. “Our government is delighted that HZPC Americas Corporation has decided to make this further investment in creating their own infrastructure in the BioCommons Research Park, further cementing their presence on P.E.I.,” says Webster. “The potato industry is vital to our economy and HZPC can help us become more innovative in this important sector.” The P.E.I. government is supporting HZPC with $126,000 to support research and development. The facility is expected to create two to four full-time positions and grow from there with company activity in research and development. “HZPC has a long track record of bringing innovation and quality to the potato industry,” says Fred Koops, general manager of HZPC’s operations in North America. “With P.E.I.’s reputation for excellence in potato production and the province’s strong bioscience industry, it was natural to look at the Island as a place to expand our operations.”

Agrawest Operations to Expand with New Agglomerate Line
One of Prince Edward Island’s leading food processors will be able to enter new markets and create jobs with a new production line, says provincial Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning Allan Campbell. “Agrawest has provided potato producers with an important market and serves the food industry as an important provider of potato flour and potato granules,” says Campbell. “With government’s help, Agrawest will be installing a line to produce value-added foodservice potato products—key items in the market for instant mashed potatoes.” The new production line will directly employ four people, and create more work in the company’s packaging and shipping areas. Expansion of the facility is expected to be completed this fall.

Industry News

New Potatoes Withstand Wireworms
Wireworm feeding damage is easy to spot, says Rich Novy, a plant geneticist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service seeking to shore up America’s $3.3 billion potato crop. Over the last several years, Novy, ARS plant pathologist Jonathan Whitworth and former University of Idaho associate professor Juan Alvarez have been looking for a solution to the problem in the form of genetic resistance. In particular, they’ve focused attention on two wild relatives of cultivated potatoes obtained from Chile and Bolivia: Solanum berthaultii and S. etuberosum. At this time, the mechanism of resistance to wireworm has not been determined, but it may be related to glycoalkaloids. These naturally occurring chemical compounds in potato tubers are known to deter some insect pests. Total concentrations of glycoalkaloids in many of the resistant clones are at levels suitable for human consumption, which may open the doors to their use in the development of wireworm-resistant commercial varieties. The team has submitted a paper on the research to the Journal of Economic Entomology.

EU Trade Deal to Benefit P.E.I. Workers
The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, recently met with workers from Cavendish Farms, and toured the company’s potato processing plant in New Annan, P.E.I. The minister also held a roundtable with members of Prince Edward Island’s business community, including potato growers, producers and exporters, during which the discussion focused on the economy, current trade negotiations with the EU and the Harper government’s ambitious job-creating, pro-trade plan. “A Canada/EU trade agreement has the potential to create 80,000 new jobs, boost Canada’s economy by $12 billion annually and give sectors in Atlantic Canada preferential access to a market with 500 million consumers, which families rely on for their livelihood,” says Fast. Sectors in Prince Edward Island that will benefit from increased access to the EU market include potato products—an export market that was worth $252.6 million last year—and the fish and seafood sector.

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