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Sprout Inhibiting Options Do Exist

It’s no secret why potato sprout inhibiting CIPC is so popular: it’s cheap and it works. That said, the EU’s recent banning of CIPC has caused many North American producers to proactively ask about alternatives. Here’s what’s available to tackle sprouting today. Scientists and companies continue to tinker with ethylene. The work isn’t new: we’ve seen industry trying to make sprout control via ethylene commercially viable for 20-plus years. The main problem…

From Potato Spinners to Touchscreens

With the technology available today, it’s hard to imagine that potato harvesting has ever been anything but efficient. But consider this: humans have cultivated potatoes for about 10,000 years; automated harvest technologies have only developed over the past 150-ish years. That means all our automation has been squeezed into just 1.5 per cent of our relationship with potatoes. But what good use we’ve made of that time! The first major harvest automation…

The Art of Keeping Spuds Comfortable: Today’s Insulation Options

On a frigid, 40-below night in February or a broiling, 30-above day in July, would you feel comfortable having a long nap inside an under-insulated shed? Potatoes don’t either. The good news is that virtually everyone is pushing for more insulation R value today. Spray foam insulation now offers better fire retardant and more food grades than earlier generations of foam. The main change, however, comes in depth. Virtually across all potato…

10 Quick Ways to Protect Your Investment

There’s nothing worse than seeing the crop you’ve invested all season growing get bruised, nicked or otherwise compromised during harvest. The good news is most handling damage is avoidable. Here are my top tips to ensure your crop comes through harvest in the best possible condition. From ground-opening right through until the potatoes are safely stored or shipped, equipment should be optimized to agitate/bounce/drop/roll tubers the minimum necessary (ie: the minimum amount…

Will the EU’s CIPC Ban Affect You?

The recently announced ban of sprout inhibitor chlorpropham (commonly known as CIPC) in the EU is causing major waves in the global potato industry. Announced in mid-June, the ban is effective on product registrations as of January 8, 2020. Grace on residue application will only be given until October 8, 2020 (a specific maximum residue limit has yet to be announced). Since the EU’s ban was first announced, I’ve been asked regularly…

Building More Storage? Use Decisive and Numbers-Oriented Decision-Making

I get a lot of phone calls and emails from growers looking for advice about building additional potato storage. Though every farm is unique, one piece of advice that works in virtually every situation is this: think big. Make no mistake: I am not advocating that growers take on impossible debt or build much bigger than they need. Rather, I mean all farmers, regardless of size, should follow corporate farms’ decisive and…

Tackling Extreme Weather

In case we needed proof that nature calls the shots, just look to recent weather virtually across our country. Through most of Alberta last summer, heat and extreme dryness frustrated farmers and limited yields of all crops, including dryland potatoes. P.E.I. growers had it even worse: their 2018 season was thwarted first by unusually hot and dry growing conditions, then by harvest-delaying extreme moisture, and then — just as machines could finally…

Plug and Play Technology for Potatoes

There are all kinds of new, innovative technologies hitting the market that strive to make growing and harvesting crops better, faster, less labour intensive, more lucrative. But how do you choose which technologies to invest in and which to let pass you by? You do what farmers have been doing since humans first put seeds in the ground: lean across your fence (or, in this case, the internet) and seek the advice…

So, You Think You’re Up On Today’s Harvest Technology?

If you’ve been in the potato business for any time at all, you probably have an excellent understanding of your own harvesting equipment. However, because growers are often only familiar with what they themselves use, you may not realize how many money- and effort-saving options now exist in harvesting technology. Today’s spade blades come in multiple options (clod, semi-clod, combo, etc.). It goes without saying that the right choice depends on harvest…

We’ve Added 2 Months of Storage Across the Industry — Here’s Why That Matters

One thing is certain: there’s no shortage of demand for quality Canadian potatoes. With processors in Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest expanding and building as we speak, potato inventory demands are on a sharp rise. In fact, I estimate we’ll need many thousands more acres of potato production to keep processors content as they continue to expand. And growth in the industry isn’t just in the form of new builds:…

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