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Combatting Common Scab

COMMON SCAB, a bacterial disease that doesn’t affect yields but causes ugly lesions and cavities on infected tubers, which can render them unmarketable, is a pervasive threat in potato-growing areas across Canada.  It has likely been around for as long as people have been growing potatoes, but researchers are still trying to determine why the pathogen is much more common in some fields than others and what the best methods are for…

The Advantages and Challenges to Planting Whole Seed

  Some of the most important trials Shaun Pelkey, agronomy manager at McCain Foods’ Valley Farms in Grand Falls, N.B., has been conducting over the past few years focus on planting whole seed as a way to increase payable yields and maximize grower returns. “McCain is trying to lead the way on this,” he says. “We have a big drive to increase yields in this part of the world and to be…

Potatoes and Water Management: From Deluge to Drought

Potato producers know all too well that controlling Mother Nature is as likely as reigning in a two year-old. In either case, you’re doomed before you start. At the same time, there are ways to optimize water use efficiency and minimize the damage from floods and droughts. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart assembled five industry experts to discuss the importance of water management to potato production, and how to deal…

Managing Soil-Borne Pests, Diseases

For potato farmers, soil-borne pests and diseases are like that pesky younger sibling that’s always trying to get you in trouble: ignore them at your peril. Hazards such as Verticillium, nematodes, pink rot and Rhizoctonia can have a big impact on the bottom line if not kept in check. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart sought input from three industry experts on the financial importance of these potato problems, and best…

Fall Bedding

Fall bedding in potato fields allows for soil preparation work to be done when growers typically have more time and labour available to them. In this system, growers usually irrigate, broadcast fertilizer as needed, plow, and then form beds into which they plant the following spring. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart asked the following five experts to weigh in on their experiences with fall bedding. Louis Claassen, a potato producer…

Soil Fumigation in Potatoes

While it is practiced extensively in the United States, soil fumigation is anything but common in potato production in Canada. But there’s a growing voice within the industry that views soil fumigants like chloropicrin as an important tool that should not be overlooked for ensuring healthier, better yielding potato crops. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart asked the following six experts to weigh in on the use of soil fumigation in…

Tighter Row Spacings

Growers and processors are always looking at how to improve farming practices that will boost yields in potato fields. Could using a narrower row width when planting potatoes be one way? Spud Smart asked the following four experts to share their views on tighter row spacings in potato production and how growers could stand to benefit: processing potato producers John Goff and Sheldon Wiebe and McCain Foods agronomists Scott Graham and Rhett…

Post-harvest Field Care

Successful potato growers know that even the best soils can produce inferior yields and quality if steps aren’t taken after harvest to prepare their fields for the following year, whether it’s being planted with potatoes or another crop in their rotation. We asked the following experts to identify and discuss some of the best management practices they’d recommend for an effective post-harvest field care strategy: Yves Leclerc, McCain Foods director of agronomy…

Taking on Late Blight

We put the question of best management practices for preventing or reducing potato crop damage from late blight to three experts: Gary Secor, a North Dakota plant pathologist who dispensed advice on managing late blight to growers at the Ontario Potato Conference in March, and two McCain Foods agronomists, Monica Everett and Gilles Moreau, who regularly help growers do battle with the disease.When it comes to potato diseases, late blight is one…

Preparing the Land

But there are other steps for ensuring a good potato crop beyond tillage and forming good hills and seed beds. Testing the fertility of the soil and applying early-season nutrients if necessary, as well as other agricultural practices like planting cover crops, can all play an important role in ensuring your crop gets off to a good start.Growers, like boy scouts, know it’s important to be prepared. Each spring, potato fields across…

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