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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…

Potato Producers Have Eyes On The Future

For a century at least, potatoes have been one of our province’s staple crops. More recently, they’ve become a pillar of southern Alberta’s economy. And now university-based researchers are on hand for support, as producers prepare to grow the industry still further. With a major potato processing plant now under construction in Lethbridge, industry officials predict a jump of nearly 10,000 more acres put into potato crop rotation. On Friday, scientists at…

Study warns of blackspot bruising potential

The accumulative impact of hot days, combined with warm evenings that fail to cool down, could result in blackspot bruising early in the harvest season, according to a recent study by the Idaho Potato Commission. The Commission sponsored the study to warn Idaho growers of preventative measures to avoid blackspot bruising of potatoes during the early harvest period. The study, published by University of Idaho potato researchers Mike Thornton and Nora Olsen,…

Dewulf introduces new offset harvester with bunker

Dewulf introduced Torro, its trailed 2-row sieving harvester with haulm conveyor, flat hedgehog units and bunker, at Potato Europe 2017. The 2-row trailed sieving harvester with bunker is equipped with 2 sieving webs in combination with a curved haulm conveyor. Thanks to its unique curve, the falling height is continuously limited to an absolute minimum and damage to the crop is prevented. According to a news release, the Torro is equipped with…

Tong Caretaker Introduces Trailer Reversing Sensors

Tong’s Caretaker mobile grader is now available with a new option of trailer reversing sensors, making loading the grader’s hopper quicker, safer, easier and more accurate than before. Designed to provide operators with the hopper loading version of parking sensors, the new trailer reversing system features a fully adjustable proximity sensor that detects the position of the trailer while reversing, and signals the driver once it is in place for tipping. “The…

The Impact of Heat and Drought on the 2016 Ontario Potato Crop

Each growing season is different but the 2016 season was like none we have ever seen before. Planting started later than usual due to the cold weather. The early crop planted by the middle of April in southwestern Ontario took more than three weeks to emerge due to cool soil temperatures. Growers were caught off guard when snow fell by the middle of May. The season was off to a bumpy start….

USDA clears new GMO potato variety

A new potato variety that’s genetically modified to withstand bruising has been cleared for commercialization without undergoing USDA’s deregulatory process for biotech crops. The agency has advised the potato’s developer, Calyxt, the cultivar is not a “regulated article” under federal law because it doesn’t contain genes from plant pests. Because most commercial biotech crops incorporate genes from plant pests, they were subject to environmental analysis and a risk assessment from USDA before…

Sorting the rocks from the spuds

Up until this fall, Alex Docherty, chairman of the PEI Potato Board and a potato farmer in Elmwood, P.E.I., would do what most potato farmers on the Island still do today — hire rock pickers. This year, he purchased a Spudnik AirSep Harvester, a piece of equipment instead that eliminates one of the more mundane tasks of the potato harvest — separating the rocks from the spuds. “It’s an incredible piece of equipment,”…

Protecting Your Investment

While some outside the industry may consider a potato grower’s work to be done after harvest, producers know that’s only the first half of the job. Properly storing potatoes and understanding the various storage requirements for tablestock and processing potatoes and the varieties within those sectors is paramount for success, and also for maintaining a competitive edge in securing customers and meeting contract obligations. Robert Coffin, the noted Canadian potato researcher and…

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