Eye on the Nation



Prince Edward Island

By Alex Docherty, Chairman, Prince Edward Island Potato Board

Lower volumes of snow in early 2016 meant we had a more of a normal spring in P.E.I. A stretch of wet weather in June however, resulted in growers playing catch up trying to get field operations like herbicide sprays and hilling completed. Only as we approached the longest day of the year did temperatures turn seasonable, and growers were looking ahead to a positive summer.

The Island potato industry is also excited to be embarking on an Enhanced Agronomy Initiative.  The processing potato growers supplying Cavendish Farms and the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have come together to establish and fund this project.

This initiative will be focused on improving access to agronomy and research extension for Cavendish processing growers, with the goal of increasing marketable yields and profitability. Growers selling to Cavendish Farms will contribute a per hundredweight check-off to fund the Initiative, with matching funds coming from the Province and Cavendish Farms.

The project lead for this initiative is Ryan Barrett. Barrett has been an employee of the P.E.I. Potato Board for the last four years, working first in a communications role before also taking on the role of research co-ordinator.  He will continue in the role of research co-ordinator, as those responsibilities dovetail well with this new role as project lead.

The project will include working groups focusing on soil and water management, seed improvement, and science and technology. The groups will include growers and representatives from industry partners, who will be generating ideas for research projects and demonstrations, recommending improvements to research dissemination and extension, and soliciting feedback from growers on which challenges to production should be prioritized to address. All efforts will consider the economic and environmental sustainability of potential changes in management, as both are essential to the future success of the industry.

New Brunswick

By Louis Ouellette, Market Information Co-ordinator, Potatoes New Brunswick

Many New Brunswick growers produced record yields in 2015 but as of late June it appeared that not all of the potatoes would last until the end of the 2015-16 storage season.

Some potato lots that received frost damage late into the harvest season had to be dumped over the winter. However, storage holdings were still above normal for the processing sector as of late June, with potatoes continuing to slowly move to markets. The outlook for the end of the storage season remained positive that most, if not all, good potatoes would be sold.

A limited number of growers started the 2016 planting season during the last few weeks in April. The bulk of the crop went into the ground during the last two weeks of May, when planting conditions were ideal.

About 95 per cent of the crop had been planted by the end of May, which is about one week earlier than normal.  Early June was cool and a little damp but the warm temperatures arrived by mid-June and the crop looked to be coming on strong and in excellent condition.


By Clement Lalancette, General Manager, Federation des Producteurs de Pommes de Terre du Quebec

Record yields in the eastern provinces in 2015 put a lot of pressure on potato prices, which meant last season was very hard for Quebec growers, especially in the fresh market.

The good news is that there wasn’t much fresh potato inventory by the beginning of the new season. As of early June, however, there were still lots of processing potatoes left in storage.

Planting in Quebec went pretty well after a slow start, and by early June it was almost done except for few fields in northern part of Quebec. We expect a small decrease in planted potato acres, perhaps a one or two per cent reduction or few hundred acres.

As of early June, late blight and other potato diseases were not an issue for growers. There was some rain the first week of June, which shouldn’t be a problem. It’s expected the first potatoes would arrive by the beginning of July, as usual.


By Dan Sawatzky, General Manager, Keystone Potato Producers Association

As of mid-June, the potato crop development in Manitoba looked very good. Following a warmer than normal March, which raised questions regarding the moisture situation, April saw cooler temperatures pushing the start of planting slightly behind last year but it was still timely on a historical average.

Warm temperatures and dry conditions in early May allowed for rapid planting to be completed by mid-May in the processing sector. Rapid emergence and ideal temperatures without frost has pushed crop growth ahead of last year. Fields are generally a week ahead of last year with row closure, and with the presence of toonie-sized tubers by third week of June on the earliest planted.

Varied rainfall near the end of May was welcomed in most areas with few exceptions where excess rain turned dry conditions to flooding, interfering with field operations such as hilling and spraying and delaying crop development. We are not aware of any reseeding being required, and losses due to moisture have been minimal as of mid-June.

Planted potato acres in Manitoba is estimated to be down this season, reflecting the absence of contracting with Cavendish Farms out of Jamestown, N.D. in 2016 and a reduction in contract volume from Simplot.

As of mid-June, the old crop continued to grade well, offsetting and adding to the small surplus situation. This surplus is being purchased, although at minimal pricing.


By Dessert Ackerman, Manager, Saskatchewan Seed Potato Growers Association

Producers in some areas of Saskatchewan reported that planting was slow this year. This was due in part to weather conditions. Another challenge for some was integrating the new SmartBox technology associated with Thimet 20-G.

Planting in other areas went well, with moisture levels reported to be good and anticipated emergence by the second week of June.

Finding workers for the planting season was less difficult this year for some producers, but others continue to find it a challenge.

Northern Vigor continues to be a valued trait of Saskatchewan-grown seed potatoes, with buyers from other countries reporting excellent performance compared to locally sourced seed potatoes.

Members of the Saskatchewan Seed Potato Growers Association are looking forward to the field day and semi-annual general meeting planned for Aug. 16. It will be held at the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre in Outlook, Sask. Along with the usual variety trials, attendees can tour several demonstrations of different potatoes and other vegetables.

Northeast Potato Technology Forum

By Brian Beaton

NEPTF Committee Member

The 23rd annual Northeast Potato Technology Forum was in Fredericton, N.B. on March 16 and 17, with than 90 people from the potato research and extension community attending.

The Northeast Potato Technology Forum brings together potato specialists from northeastern North America each year to discuss potato research and promote collaboration and information exchange. There were many people there from the potato industry, federal government and provincial government from both Canada and Maine.

For this year’s event, a total of 28 oral scientific presentations were made as part of five sessions grouped by subject matter that included insects and viruses, potato pathology, breeding, genetics and nutrition and cropping systems, propagation and storage management.

The presentations were extremely diverse and represent a cross-section of potato research in the region. The wide range of topics covered at the meeting included utilizing herbicides for the control of volunteer potato plants to using gene expression-based diagnostics to assess potato crop N status.

A book of abstracts including all the presentations that were given at the meeting was handed out during the forum. For more information on the meeting or a copy of the abstracts from the meeting, visit the Northeast Potato Technology Forum website at northeastpotato.com.


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