Summer 2011 Feature Articles

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sum11_coverWHATS IN THE GROUND FOR 2011?
A look at Statistics Canada’s Acreage Estimates

For the first time since 2004, the estimate of area planted to potatoes has increased, according to Statistics Canada’s report Canadian Potato Production released in July. This year’s estimated planted area is 362,300 acres, up 2 per cent over 2010. The largest increase is in Alberta, which is up 10 per cent at 55,500 acres, followed by Manitoba, with a four per cent increase to 74,000 acres. The acreage increases in these provinces are a result of increases to potato processing contracts—a sector already in short supply. Saskatchewan, on the other hand, recorded the largest decrease, down seven per cent to 7,000 acres.

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EMERGING POTATO INDUSTRIES
The sleeping giants are stirring: production, consumption and market trends in China and India

Over the last 30 years, potato production in China and India has increased at a dramatic rate, largely due to area expansion. In 2009, these two countries produced one-third of the world’s potatoes. In addition to area expansion, production growth is now being driven by other means. Consumer demand and consumption trends are also influencing how the industry is growing and at what pace.

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OUR NEIGHBOUR TO THE SOUTH 
A snapshot of the U.S. potato industry, plus what we share and why 

sum2011-1-our-neighbour-to-the-southPotato production in the United States is now worth about $3.45 billion USD per year, but the number of potato acres has been trending downward for the last few years.

One of the reasons for more profit on less land is an average annual increase in productivity of one to two per cent as farmers adopt better technology, says Lee Frankel, executive director of the United Potato Growers of America.

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NOVEL TECHNOLOGIES FROM AROUND THE GLOBE
From Africa to the Netherlands, new innovations are cutting costs and increasing productivity

sum2011-1-novel-technologiesDisease-free seed potatoes produced in higher quantities and in less time are the result of research into aeroponics, now underway through the International Potato Center (CIP).

Aeroponics refers to the process of growing plants that are suspended in a closed or semi-closed environment, and spraying their dangling roots and lower stems with a nutrient-enhanced water solution. Compared to traditional or hydroponic growing methods, aeroponics reduces water and energy costs.

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GROWING GREENER
A cool new tool for tracking agriculture’s carbon footprint

sum2011-1-growing-greenerMany growers will agree that we live in an era where the need for gathering and managing farming-related data is becoming a substantial and inevitable reality of potato farming. Gone are the days when potato production was “limited” to the basic activities of soil preparation, variety choice, planting, irrigation, pest and disease control, harvesting, storage, and the eventual marketing of the crop—to name but a few of the most essential components of crop production as most potato farmers know it.

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