The winter issue is always a bit different than the other issues. At this time of year, we’re more focused on conferences and trade shows and with no potatoes in the ground, it gives us more wiggle room with what we cover. I usually find myself digging into more in-depth topics that may not fall within any of the production seasons.
For this issue I got to take a close look at a lot of interesting and important topics. For the cover story, we dug deep into Canada’s organic potato industry. This is a topic I’ve been wanting to cover since I first started as Spud Smart editor three years ago.
In a previous job, I gathered and wrote about organic crop prices, which was an anomaly in the industry. No one else did the work to find this information and I found it deeply fascinating. Then starting as the Spud editor and living in Manitoba, I knew we had a very large organic potato farm located here — Kroeker Farms. So, between my previous work covering the organic industry and being so close to an organic potato farm, I really wanted to research this industry.
In “Organic Opportunities Abound for Canadian Potato Growers,” I talk with Kroeker Farms’ and others in the Canadian organic industry to learn about this fascinating part of the potato industry. For myself, I found it intriguing how a lot of organic production work is similar to what conventional growers are doing for sustainable/regenerative agriculture practices on their farms. I wonder if we will see more conventional growers make the organic switch in the future, in order to get a premium on their crop sales.
Organics wasn’t the only topic I got to dive into. Last summer I saw a story about a new potato disease called rubbery rot that was discovered just south of the American border in the Midwest. Right away I knew this was something I needed to do a story on to make sure Canadian growers were aware of it.
However, once I started working on it, I learned there isn’t much known about this storage disease. I was able to track down a few researchers in the United States who had come across the disease in the past decade and wrote research papers on it. Every researcher I talked to agreed that more coverage is needed to make growers of aware of it so they can receive more samples of infected spuds and potentially find a way to stop it. Make sure to read “A New Disease Called Rubbery Rot is Lurking in Potato Storages” to make yourself aware of the symptoms of rubbery rot and keep them in mind as you check your storages.
These are only two of the amazing stories in this issue. I also recommend reading the feature on the Potato Sustainability Alliance and please check out what Manitoba is trying to do when it comes to potato research at the university level. I loved working on this issue, and I’m really excited for you all to read it and learn what I have.