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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…

Volunteer Potatoes: Potential Issue in 2019

Volunteer potato plants (potatoes growing from unharvested tubers) might be problematic in rotation crops during the 2019 growing season. These plants can be a competitive weed with most crops and act as a reservoir for diseases and insects. In general, winter conditions in Canada are severe enough to control most volunteers (soil temperature below -2 C or 28 F) but winter survival is dependant on tuber health, temperature, snow cover and burial…

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…

2018 Forecast Calls for Optimism

For most of the past decade, potato production in Canada has been relatively stagnant. The economic crash of 2008 reduced demand for Canadian spuds in some markets and the industry struggled to regain its lost footing. With the 2018 growing season well under way, there now seems to be a renewed sense of optimism among many Canadian potato growers. Preliminary estimates indicate a total of 353,000 acres will be planted in Canada…

Potatoes and Good Health Go Hand-In-Hand

Do potatoes belong in a healthy diet? Following a decades-long tide of negative buzz about the potato’s role in weight gain, diabetes and a host of other ills, this is the question the potato industry would like to answer once and for all with a resounding “yes! Thanks to a recent initiative focused on potatoes and health, the industry is a big step closer to that goal, according to John Bareman, chair…

Preparing for the Potato’s Future

It’s always been critical to breed new crop varieties with good yield and harvest quality, but it’s more important than ever to do so now, with crops facing myriad stresses related to changing climate conditions. Dr. Keshav Dahal, a crop stress physiologist who joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Fredericton, N.B. during summer 2017, is helping unlock how some plants sense and react to stress more effectively than…

Disease Watch: Potato Early Dying

Potato early dying (PED) is also known as early die and early maturity wilt. This disease is endemic in many fields with a long history of potato production. There is increased pressure on Canadian processing potato production to increase productivity to remain competitive in regional and global markets. PED is a major yield-limiting factor in all major potato production areas of Canada. PED results in premature vine senescence and can limit potato…

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…

Manitoba Grower Prizes Self-Reliance

Spud Plains Farms is one of the largest potato operations in Manitoba. The 15,000-acre farm includes about 4,500 acres of irrigated potatoes which are spread over out over 80 kilometres in the southwest area of the province. Owner Paul Adriaansen believes for an operation of his farm’s size, it pays to be self-sufficient. “We do as much as we can ourselves on our farm. We just purchased an aircraft last year, a…

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