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Heat-Proofing Our Potato Crops

As climate warming turns up the heat, how will Canadian potato production be affected? “Potato crops are known to be sensitive to high temperatures,” says Xiu-Qing Li, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Fredericton Research and Development Centre. “Potatoes evolved high in the Andes of South America where conditions are relatively cool. So, they grow best at temperatures around 22 degrees Celsius, which makes Canada a great place for potato…

Growing Potatoes is a Family Affair

At Les Fermes PL Levesque Ltd., a 2,000-acre potato farm in Saint-André, N. B., you could say farming runs in the family. Paul Levesque, who owns the farming operation along with his wife, Lynn, grows potatoes there, just like his father and grandfather before him. Today, his two sons, Angelo and David, help run the farm, as do three grandsons, Samuel, Zackari and Mathias, who represent the sixth generation of potato growers…

Nurse Crops in Potato Production

As with any field crop, young potato plants face many threats. Erosion, wind, drought and competition from weeds are a few of the factors that can impede the plants’ optimal growth. This is why a team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in the Maritimes has been looking into nurse crops — what they describe as fast-growing companion crops planted during the potato-growing season that help draw water to root systems, provide…

UPGC Canadian Crop Report December 6, 2019

Statistics Canada has estimated Canadian Potato Production in 2019 to be up 2.4% or 2,472,000 hundred weight above the 5-yr average in Canada. With demand growing for potato products, growers in the spring of 2019 planted an additional 3.7% or 13,000 acres to meet these expansion requirements. Unfortunately, poor harvest conditions, particularly in Western Canada, have resulted in 20,296 acres being abandoned in farmers fields. This is after, what was considered a…

Hemp in the Rotation?

Potato farmers are always keen to include lucrative new crops in the rotation, and various groups in New Brunswick are currently looking into the suitability of hemp. To start examining that possibility and all other economic growth opportunities related to hemp, the leaders at the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries put out a request for proposals (RFP), explains Kevin McCully, the department’s provincial director of agriculture. “We awarded the contract…

New Strategies for Mitigating Off-Site Pesticide Movement in Water

WHEN THE PESTICIDE MANAGEMENT Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced its proposed special review of clothianidin and thiamethoxam to assess their risks to aquatic invertebrates in November 2016, many in the potato industry were surprised.  And while Canada’s potato producers are already doing a good job in terms of implementing best management practices for off-site pesticide movement, the announcement serves as a reminder the industry must continue to seek out improvements. Formed in the…

The Ins and Outs of Potato Yield Monitoring

Bill Menkveld, vice-president of sales and marketing for Greentronics, has never met a grower who isn’t interested in yield maps. He says producers are often surprised by the results. “Growers are always amazed to see how much yield changes across a field. It’s not uncommon to see yields vary by a factor of 100 or 200 per cent,” he says. Yield monitors provide information about crops and production practices and are designed…

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 —…

Better Sooner Than Later

Late blight is a deadly disease that requires integrated management, including foliar fungicides as a key tool. Usually potato growers make repeated preventive applications of broad-spectrum fungicides starting before row closure, and then use late blight-specific fungicides if the disease is found in their fields. Now studies in Ontario and the Maritimes are working on easy-to-use technologies for early detection of late blight that could allow more targeted fungicide strategies. Late blight…

Harvest and Storage of Potato Crops Exposed to High Moisture Levels

Frequent and excessive rain received during the growing season is potentially conducive, especially in low spots and/or in poorly drained areas, to the development of some diseases, such as pink rot and Pythium leak (water rots). Growers with potato crops exposed to high moisture levels should follow the management practices below. Top kill at least two weeks prior to harvest to allow time for infected tubers to rot and to promote tuber…

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