b"Sugar Testing Comes to ManitobaManitoba potato growers nowDESPITE ALL OF THE acres of spuds bound for french fry have access to sugar contentproduction, Manitoba had been missing somethinga sugar testing lab. Gaia Consulting in Newton, Man. saw that as a tests through Gaia Consulting. business opportunity.It's kind of been an area that has been underserved for a BY: ASHLEY ROBINSONnumber of years. And since we already do a lot of independent research for a lot of different organizations with potatoes, it's sort of a natural progression for us to do impartial testing for sugar samples, Darin Gibson with Gaia Consulting, explains in a Zoom interview.Sugar content tests allow growers to monitor sugar levels in field and storage to keep potato crops in the best possible condition for shipping to fry and chip processors. Prior to Gaia setting up a testing lab, most growers in Manitoba didnt have access to the tests.Gibson and his wife Debbie Jones worked with Todd Forbush, vice-president and storage systems engineer at Techmark Inc., to construct and get their sugar testing lab up and running. Jones runs the lab, as she has a lab background having worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, while Gibson has handled business meetings with growers and processing companies.One of Gaias first customers has been Simplot who paid for their growers to have sugar tests done during the 2020-21 storage season. Simplot has been increasing its agronomy offerings to growers since expanding its Portage la Prairie, Man. plant. The plant was expanded from 180,000 to 460,000 square feet, more than doubling its potato requirement. George Moir, who is the field and storage manager of Marginet Family Farms at Treherne, Man., was one of the Simplot growers offered sugar sampling. By sugar testing their crops in storage Marginet Family Farms were able to raise the storage temperature and improve the colour of the tubers.Because of the (growing) season that we had last year, the crop going into storage, it was probably not fully mature. We knew that we were going to have some colour issues, which was brought on by the sugar levels that are in the tuber. So, when you get a colour issue in storage, you want to do what you can to bring down those sucrose and glucose levels, Moir says in a phone interview.Through the Simplot program, Gaia Consulting was able to adjust their testing system to sort out any kinks before expanding to work with more Manitoba growers during the upcoming Top: Debbie Jones with Gaia Consulting reviews a photograph takenstorage season. Throughout the winter, Gibson attended various of french fries which sugar content tests were used on. Below: A photo of french fries which were experimented on using agrower meetings and met with growers virtually to talk about sugar content test.Gaias new offering. Gaia is also in discussion with McCain Foods PHOTOS: GAIA CONSULTING at Carberry, Man. about how sugar testing can assist them. 18SPUDSMART.COM Summer 2021"