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Browsing articles by Mark Halsall

Creating the World’s Best Vodka

Ontario potato farmers Ken and Liz Beattie got into the craft distillery business back in 2016, using surplus, non-saleable spuds otherwise destined for cattle feed to make potato vodka. Their fledgling company called Beattie’s Distillers has certainly come a long way since then. Proof of that came at the 2018 World Beverage Competition,a major event for the beer, wine and spirits industries. At that event—the first international competition for the Beatties —…

Market News, Oct. 1, 2019

Many potato growers across the country had to deal with some serious weather challenges in 2019. In August, severe hailstorms caused widespread crop damage in southern Alberta, while in September, Hurricane Dorian delivered torrential rain and gale-force winds to Prince Edward Island. Those areas — as well as most of the other potato-producing regions in Canada — experienced a cool, wet spring, which delayed planting by up to two weeks. This was…

The Long Haul: Attaining Your Storage Goals

Peter VanderZaag, co-owner of Sunrise Potato Storage Ltd. in Alliston, Ont. and a prominent Canadian potato scientist, learned a valuable lesson about storing spuds from his father, one of his mentors for growing potatoes. Potatoes, he was told, should look as good coming out of the bin as when they’re freshly harvested. The reason being the price farmers pay if they’re not. “If you don’t do the storage properly, you have nothing…

Farming Potatoes is in his Blood

Jaap Remijn grew up on a potato farm in the Netherlands but decided to pursue mechanical engineering after high school. When he immigrated to Canada, the opportunity arose to buy a potato farm in Alberta. Remijn decided it was something he couldn’t pass up. “It was just something I wanted to do for myself,” says Remijn, whose father started farming potatoes in Holland at the age of 19. “I guess farming potatoes…

Farming Life Tough to Beat

JASON KEHLER has been helping grow potatoes on the family farm in Carman, Man., since he was 12 years old. Some 30 years later, he can’t imagine doing anything else.  “I’ve always wanted to farm since I was probably old enough to say the word,” says Kehler, who’s a fourth-generation farmer and second-generation potato producer. “I love what I do. I enjoy the challenge, the people, and just watching Mother Nature make…

Market News

Canada’s potato storage holdings as of June 1 totalled just under 16.4 million hundredweight, according to figures from the United Potato Growers of Canada. That’s an 18.5 per cent decline from the same period a year ago, when total holdings amounted to a little over 20.1 million hundredweight of potatoes. In Eastern Canada, the year-to-year decrease was just over 22 per cent mainly due to substantial declines in storage holdings in Prince…

2019 Canadian Potato Crop Outlook

Despite a late start to the planting season in most potato producing areas in Canada, growers are generally optimistic about the prospects for this year’s crop. However things turns out, it will most likely be an improvement on what, for many Canadian producers, was a dreadful end to the 2018 harvest season, when unseasonably cold, wet weather led to thousands of acres of potatoes being left in the ground. According to Kevin…

Build Soil Quality and Suppress Soil-Borne Pathogens to Improve Yields Study Concludes

Canadian potato farmers, facing rising production costs and increased pressure from global competitors, are always looking for ways to increase yields. Identifying obstacles limiting potato yields is part of the answer, and was the primary objective of a major five-year research project conducted in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, which wrapped up last year. Project partners in the industry-led study included McCain Foods Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Potatoes New…

Combatting Common Scab

COMMON SCAB, a bacterial disease that doesn’t affect yields but causes ugly lesions and cavities on infected tubers, which can render them unmarketable, is a pervasive threat in potato-growing areas across Canada.  It has likely been around for as long as people have been growing potatoes, but researchers are still trying to determine why the pathogen is much more common in some fields than others and what the best methods are for…

Champion Potato Grower has Roots in Holland

ALBERTA POTATO PRODUCER Laus Stiekema was in his early 40s when he decided to leave the Netherlands with his wife and four kids to start a new life on the Canadian prairies in 2004. Fifteen years later, there’s no question that Stiekema and his family have landed on their feet. Stiekema now runs a thriving potato operation called Stiekema-Kolhorn Joint Venture in Vauxhall, Alta. Last November, Stiekema-Kolhorn JV was named McCain Food’s…

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