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Browsing articles by Mark Halsall

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…

Promoting Potatoes

P.E.I. POTATOES HAS established a strong reputation as a leader in marketing and promoting potatoes, both within Canada and abroad. It has now come out with a new media campaign that relies heavily on the Island’s beauty and rich potato heritage to further entrench the Prince Edward Island Potatoes brand in the minds of consumers.  The new television and online marketing campaign kicked off in November with a 30-second video called “What…

Innate Outlook

INNATE POTATOES, the biotech spud from Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company, have been approved for production and sale in Canada since 2016.  Since then, Innate has been grown in field trials in P.E.I., Ontario and Manitoba and the trials are expected to continue in 2019. But aside from a few acres in Ontario that’s producing an Innate chip variety for an American processor, there isn’t any commercial production of Innate potatoes in this…

Winnipeg to Host Potato Association of America Meeting

The 103rdannual meeting of the Potato Association of America will take place July 28 to Aug. 1 at the Delta Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, Man. It’s never been held in Manitoba before, and organizers are looking forward to hosting what’s considered the premier educational event for the North American potato industry. “It’s the most academic type of potato meeting that we have, and it tends to be the event of the year…

Going Without Mancozeb

Canadian potato farmers could be facing higher production costs with the potential loss of a key weapon against late blight. Mancozeb is a relatively inexpensive, Group M fungicide that’s used extensively in Canada to combat late blight and early blight, with some growers applying the chemical up to 10 times per season on their potato fields. The broad-spectrum fungicide is currently under review by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency due to…

Market News

Potato storage holdings in Canada totaled 56.9 million hundredweight on Feb. 1, a 9.2 per cent decline from the same time in 2018, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada. Storage holdings were down in every potato-producing province except for British Columbia, where holdings were up substantially at 36 per cent. According to UPGC General Manager, Kevin MacIsaac, British Columbia’s crop was below average last year so the increase returned that…

New Way Forward

The potato breeding program operated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has a long history, releasing more than 130 new varieties over the past 90 years. Because of shifts in consumer demand, technologies, markets and growing conditions that have transformed the potato landscape in Canada in recent years, AAFC has decided it’s time for a change. This year, the department’s potato breeding program is undergoing a major overhaul in an effort to modernize…

Investments Key at Manitoba’s Beaver Creek Farms

In the minds of some farmers, you need to spend money to make money growing potatoes these days. You could say Stan and Don Wiebe, co-owners of Manitoba’s Beaver Creek Farms, fall in that category. The two brothers have invested heavily in their potato operation over the years, installing costly tile drainage and irrigation systems in fields throughout their farm while doing their best to keep up with the latest in farm…

Market News

Challenging weather conditions in most potato producing areas in Canada — including a cold, wet harvest season that resulted in thousands of acres of potatoes being left in the ground — resulted in a smaller crop in 2018. Statistics Canada figures released Dec. 13 show total potato production in Canada last year was 103.8 million hundredweight, down 2.6 per cent from 2017. According to StatsCan, the total amount of unharvested acres in…

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