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Browsing Category Fall 2019

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…

From our Desk

Unlocking the Potato’s True Potential

LAST AUGUST, at the Potato Association of America (PAA) annual meeting, I had an opportunity to talk with Michiel de Vries, Solynta’s research team lead, about the work he and his colleagues are carrying out. Solynta, a potato seed breeding company based in Wageningen, the Netherlands, has invented a fast and efficient hybrid breeding technology. One that could change global food consumption and unlock the true potential of the potato, de Vries…

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…

Storage Innovations

Maintaining the quality of potatoes through storage is as critical to one’s ultimate returns as is growing a good crop in the first place. Gone are the days of throwing a crop into any empty structure and hoping for the best: today’s potato storages offer impressively high-tech options, and more storage management innovation is on the horizon. The thermodynamic air envelope — more simply known as heated walls — is a mainstreaming…

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 ten years in the Maritimes, and outof those incidents, last year was the worst for frost-damaged…

Advances in Potato Handling Equipment

At one time, the only real tools a potato farmer needed were a trusty spade and a good strong back. While a little blood, sweat and tears can still go a long way in determining how successful a grower can be, having the right tools has become increasingly important. New developments in technology, mechanization, storage and breeding are allowing growers to produce more spuds with fewer resources. The challenge for many potato…

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…

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