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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 10 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…

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,…

Stress Factors and Management Practices for Sugar End Disorder and Stem-End Chip Defect

SUGAR ENDS AND stem-end chip defect are tuber disorders affecting product quality of processing and chipping potatoes, respectively. The environmental stresses causing the disorders occur during the growing season, but tubers appear asymptomatic until harvest or later in storage. Although there are many similarities between the two disorders, there are also some key differences.  To understand the factors causing sugar ends and stem-end chip defect as well as management practices to reduce…

Breaking the Fall

Two years ago, Maritimer Pete Nieuwhof was contemplating ways to speed up packing of his farm’s fresh potato harvest. He found his answer with the EZ-Down, an ingenious device invented by a pair of fellow P.E.I. potato growers. “At the time, we were looking for something to speed up our production a little bit. We had an old homemade machine on the line. It was working well, but we wanted to upgrade so…

New and Improved Potato Scanning and Handling Systems

Any technology that helps maximize profit and minimize waste is welcome in agriculture, and potato farming is no exception. There are some recent updates on new and established scanning and handling systems now available or soon to be marketed. You have likely heard about the SmartSpud, a revolutionary Canadian device produced by Masitek Instruments of Moncton, N.B., that travels through potato equipment from harvester to packaging, mimicking a real potato. It provides…

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