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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…

What To Do When Frost Hits

When a pre-harvest hard frost hits — a temperature of -2.22 C or below — growers are faced with some thorny challenges. While a light frost may only damage the tubers in the top part of the hill, a severe frost can take out much more. There has been early frost three out of the last 10 years in the Maritimes, and outof those incidents, last year was the worst for frost-damaged…

Complex Potato Genome Further Unveiled

The potato is one of the most important food crops worldwide. Improvements to its traits can therefore have a major impact. Reading the genome structure of the potato is extremely tricky, however, as a regular potato consists of four genomes, which makes it difficult to determine the position of the genes. The recent research applied a diploid real potato plant with only one genome, a so-called homozygote, which makes it easier to read and compare the DNA base sequence. This plant, Solyntus, was produced as part of Solynta’s hybrid potato breeding programme.   The genome…

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…

Preventing Bruise in Potatoes

Meeting the demands of processors and buyers in terms of quality is a constant challenge for producers. Potatoes that don’t meet quality specs are either reduced in price or get rejected entirely. All through the production process, there are steps growers can take to assure the highest level of quality is maintained, particularly when it comes to mitigating bruise. There are three types of bruising that occur in potato tubers. Shatter bruise…

2019 Successful Harvest Checklist for the Storage Crop

Whoever said that “a potato storage is not a hospital” was absolutely right. Diseased or bruised tubers that are stored will not get better. Tubers bruised at harvest are easily invaded by soft rot and/or Fusarium dry rot, which can cause serious economic losses in storage. Harvest management is, in large part, bruise management. Bruising affects tuber quality significantly. In order to harvest potatoes with minimum tuber damage, growers need to implement digging,…

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