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Potato Gatherings


[deck]Reports from the annual winter conferences and trade shows in Ontario and New Brunswick.[/deck]

The 2015 Ontario Potato Conference was held March 5 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph, Ont. The attendance of about 275 growers and industry people exceeded expectations. Among the attendees were delegates from Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

There were 30 exhibitors at the trade show, which included displays of new potato varieties and the latest production technology. All exhibitors indicated that they plan to be back at next year’s conference.

The speakers included, Mike Thornton from the University of Idaho, who discussed “Potato Growth and Development.” He outlined what growers can do to keep the factory that is the potato plant running at optimal efficiency.

Gary Secor from North Dakota State University discussed the problems with late blight both in the field and in storage. Following this presentation, Peter VanderZaag discussed late blight from a potato grower/breeder’s point of view. When VanderZaag worked for the International Potato Center, he had the opportunity to see the ravages of late blight on five continents!

Joe Guenthner from the University of Idaho discussed J.R. Simplot Company’s Innate potatoes, which are conventional varieties that have been modified with genes from wild potatoes. Time will tell if consumers will accept these new varieties, which are tolerant or resistant to important potato problems: bruising, acrylamide production and late blight.

Ian MacRae from the University of Minnesota spoke about how to deal with the black cutworm, an erratic insect that blows in from the south and can cause serious economic losses by cutting off stems of small plants and also by tunnelling in daughter tubers.

An Alliston, Ontario potato grower, Homer VanderZaag, spoke about his experience with irrigation scheduling and variable rate irrigation technologies. Mark VanOostrum, a potato agronomist with WD Potato Ltd., discussed new chipping varieties and pressure bruising in long-term storage. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of United Potato Growers of Canada, summarized UPGC activities in 2014.

All the presentations prompted questions, so many that the moderators had to leave hands in the air in order to stay on schedule. Growers commented on the engaging presentations, the opportunity to talk with other growers and with crop consultants/researchers, and the friendly atmosphere of the conference.

To sum up, this was an excellent technology transfer event. Potato producers gained knowledge that should help them to enhance their farming operations and to continue producing a high quality crop. The Ontario Potato Board wishes to thank all of the event sponsors for their important contributions towards making the conference a success.

Plans are already underway for next year’s Ontario Potato Conference, which will be held once again atthe Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph on March 3, 2016.

A capacity crowd made up of growers and industry representatives from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Maine attended the annual Potatoes New Brunswick Conference and Trade Show, held Feb. 5 at the E. & P. Senechal Centre in Grand Falls, N.B.

Approximately 225 people took in this year’s event, which featured a full complement of industry experts discussing important issues. The topics included:

  • The New Brunswick Industry Transformation Initiative, a project with the goal of improving many aspects of the province’s potato industry (including yield improvement)
  • An update on the agronomy work at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, N.B.
  • Effective seed lot handling and its impact on yields
  • Proper seed cutting and managing seed to reduce bruising
  • Effect of CIPC sprout suppressant on seed performance
  • Weed control

The Potatoes New Brunswick Conference and Trade Show continues to be an important date on the calendars of New Brunswick growers and local industry reps. These two groups spend the day networking, discussing new products and technology, and planning for the upcoming season.

The presentations from the 2015 Conference and Trade Show are available for viewing at

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