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Browsing articles by Carolyn King

Seeking a Whammy for Wireworms

“We have estimated wireworm costs Prince Edward Island’s potato industry more than $10 million per year in damaged product, crop protection products, crop insurance claims, and costs associated with rotation crops to battle wireworm,” says Ryan Barrett, research coordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board. “While research by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers, such as Dr. Christine Noronha and Dr. Bob Vernon has provided growers with more tools to battle this pest, it…

Common Scab Complexities

You need to know your enemy if you want to fight it, says Martin Filion, an associate professor at the Université de Moncton. “Genetic diversity of a pathogen means differences in functions the pathogen might have,” he says. “For instance, different species or strains might have different responses to chemicals or agricultural practices you are using to manage the disease.” Information about which common scab species and strains are present and their…

Verticillium and Weeds

Verticillium wilt is a major soil-borne disease that can result in yield losses as high as 50 per cent in potatoes. The roots of a potato plant, or other host plant, release compounds that stimulate the germination of Verticillium dahliae microsclerotia, the fungus’s survival structures in the soil. The fungus then grows, penetrates the plant’s roots and spreads up the plant, eventually causing wilting, yellowing and early dying in potatoes. “As Verticillium dahliae completes…

Mustering Mustard for Potato Productivity

A recent study by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Dr. Bernie Zebarth, together with McCain Foods Canada agronomists and the PEI Potato Board, identified potato early dying complex (PED) and degraded soil health as the two most important factors limiting potato production in the Maritimes. So says Dr. Dahu Chen, a plant pathologist at AAFC’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre. This double threat has prompted Chen and his colleagues at AAFC…

Comparing New Nitrogen Alternatives

Nitrogen use efficiency is a topic that is an intersection of food security, environmental sustainability and economics in our agricultural production systems. We need to use nitrogen to produce a good harvest. So says Dr. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, the study’s lead investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta. “However, by using nitrogen fertilizer we also have the risk of losing some of that…

Boosting soil carbon, boosting potato yields

Louis-Pierre Comeau is adding the soil carbon piece to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) research efforts in the Maritimes. His studies will be contributing to the development of practical, profitable agricultural practices that increase soil organic matter for improved potato yields. Carbon is part of all plants and animals, and the key element in soil organic matter. “In turn, soil organic matter is essential for a variety of needs like food, fibre…

Is There a Best Way to Manage Nitrogen?

A major project with studies in Manitoba and Alberta has been comparing diverse nitrogen management options to see if there might be a clear winner when it comes to irrigated potato production on the Prairies. The project was prompted by several considerations. “Potato is one of our crops where we apply the most amount of nitrogen. So any study that helps us to fine-tune nitrogen management to optimize yields and quality and…

Tackling Resistant Pink Rot

Ridomil has been the standard fungicide for managing pink rot for many years. However, a national survey shows Ridomil-resistant pink rot is becoming more common. Fortunately, Canadian research has identified effective alternatives for managing resistant populations. “The issue of pink rot resistance came to a head in the early 2000s, when different potato production regions in the U.S. were finding some resistance to Ridomil, which has the active ingredient mefenoxam as they…

War and Peace, Verticillium Style

Verticillium dahliae, a soil-borne fungus, causes wilt, yellowing, necrosis and early dying in potato. This yield-robbing pathogen is tough to manage, has a broad host range, and is known to survive in the soil for up to about five years. Potato cultivars with improved resistance to Verticillium would be a great tool for growers. Now, research into the complicated interactions between potato plants and this pathogen has come up with a more…

A novel option to combat soil erosion

A spring cover crop planted at potato planting time – called a nurse crop – offers a way to reduce soil erosion during the weeks between potato planting and hilling. But what is the optimal way to grow a nurse crop to benefit the soil, the potato crop, and the grower’s bottom line? Researchers and growers in New Brunswick and Maine are working on answering that question. “The best part of the…

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