Humidity deconstructed for potato growers

Humidity deconstructed for potato growers

A detailed understanding of the psychrometric chart can be an excellent tool in understanding water, air and vapour relationships.

How to optimize ventilation

How to optimize ventilation

Achieving the ideal storage environment to maximize crop value

Potato storage rots: a potential problem in wet seasons

Potato storage rots: a potential problem in wet seasons

Usually wet seasons favour crop development, but incidence of storage rots is a concern, especially if rainfall occurs late in the growing season.

Weather conditions in P.E.I. are prime for early blight spread and growers should consider applying preventative fungicides now, according to P.E.I. Potato Agronomy's update.
Early harvest for potatoes continues in southwest Ontario, while crops in central Ontario are still blooming or going down, according to Eugenia Banks' potato update. 
The results from Ontario spore traps are negative for late blight in Alliston, Shelburne and Simcoe-Delhi areas as of July 31, according to Eugenia Banks’ latest potato update.
Canadian potato crop is progressing well despite heat stress, hail and frost concerns, according to the latest crop report from Potato Growers of Canada. 
An automated spore trap has been developed in the U.K. which could change the way disease monitoring is done for crops and help farmers target fungicide applications better. 
Potato farmers in P.E.I. are planting more mustard to ward off wireworm and boost crop yield. 
A research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in P.E.I. is looking for natural ways to deal with click beetles and wireworms that cause damage to potatoes. 
Ontario's hot weather keeps late blight in check but some growers are seeing sunburnt stems and heat stress in their potato crop. 
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) completed its re-evaluation of mancozeb and found the continued registration of products containing mancozeb acceptable for foliar application to potatoes in Canada.
The results from Ontario spore traps, in Alliston, Leamington, Simcoe-Delhi, and Shelburne areas, returned negative detecting no late blight spores, according to Eugenia Banks’ latest potato update.
Yellow Sun, Red Smile, Kiss-me-a-lot and Lobster Red are four unique varieties of potato to be grown in Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time. 
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers in Fredericton, N.B. are exploring environmentally friendly solutions to manage Potato Early Dying complex (PED), a disease that is limiting yields in many potato fields in eastern Canada. PED is a disease complex caused by a combination of a fungal disease (Verticillium wilt) and root-lesion nematodes. With few available treatments, a process called biofumigation is being used by some growers to manage PED. The process involves tilling mustard plants into the soil at a specific stage of growth with enough heat and moisture in the ground to induce a chemical breakdown of the plant material. “As the mustard decomposes, it releases a chemical that reduces Verticillium wilt pathogens without adverse effects on the environment,” explains Dahu Chen, AAFC plant pathologist at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre. As a side-effect, mustard biofumigation also delivers green compost into the soil, improving soil health. There is some evidence that the severity of PED symptoms is reduced in healthy soils. “The disease has been around for a long time, but it is now identified to be a major factor limiting tuber yield in New Brunswick,” says Chen, who is studying the problem with colleague, AAFC researcher Bernie Zebarth. “The pathogen can survive in the soil for a long time, even through the harshest winter conditions of eastern Canada,” explains Chen. Chen and Zebarth are now working with industry partners, including Potatoes NB and McCain Foods Canada, to determine the effectiveness of mustard biofumigation through trials in commercial fields. In addition, crop rotations that reduce the severity of PED symptoms are being examined in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island by Potatoes NB, McCain Foods Canada, the PEIPotatoBoard, the NB Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries and the PEI Department of Agriculture. Dahu Chen, AAFC plant pathologist, examines the leaves of a potato plant for signs of disease. (Photo courtesy of AAFC)
Black cutworms were found in a number of fields near Delhi, Ont., on July 26, according to Eugenia Banks' latest potato update. 
Syngenta Canada Inc. has received registration for Revus fungicide as a potato seed treatment for the suppression of pink rot and control of seed‑borne late blight in potatoes. Pink rot is a devastating, soil-borne disease caused by the pathogen Phytophthora erythroseptica that thrives in wet, poorly drained soils. Infection typically takes place pre-harvest, as the pathogen enters tubers through the stem end and lenticels. Tubers infected with pink rot will often decay during harvest and handling, which allows the pathogen to spread quickly from infected tubers to healthy tubers while in storage. “Every field has the potential for pink rot,” says Brady Code, eastern technical lead with Syngenta Canada. “It takes a very small number of infected tubers going over harvest equipment or getting by on the belt to put an entire season of work in jeopardy, and leave growers with far fewer healthy potatoes to ship.” Revus contains the active ingredient mandipropamid (Group 40), and works by protecting the daughter tubers from becoming infected with pink rot. It also provides control of seed-borne late blight (Phytophthora infestans), according to a company press release.  Revus is applied at 5.9-11.8 mL per cwt of seed (13-26 mL/100 kg of seed). Following a seed treatment application of Revus fungicide, the first foliar fungicide application should be a product that does not contain a Group 40 active ingredient. Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for mandipropamid have been established for markets including Canada, the United States, Japan, and South Korea, in support of the seed treatment use pattern.
Although still in the early stages, this weed control solution is being designed as an advanced spot-spraying precision technology that will help farmers reduce input costs and add another management tool to their integrated management systems.
Bayer has announced the launch of Sencor STZ, a powerful and innovative new herbicide for broad-spectrum control of all major annual grass and broadleaf weeds in potatoes.
“Although potato psyllids have been known in the past to cause some damage themselves, the real concern is mainly from the bacterium, and we don’t have it in Canada yet. But if our potato psyllid population continues to increase – as it has done during 2013 to 2016 – and if it becomes more continuous with U.S. populations, and if tomato and potato plants (and tubers) are shipped more frequently, then it could arrive,” says Dan Johnson, an entomologist at the University of Lethbridge. | READ MORE
The Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN), now in its 20th year, continues to provide timely crop insect pest risk and forecasting tools for growers and the industry across Western Canada. As technology and forecasting tools advance, so does the ability of the network to provide relevant insect pest information related to scouting, identification and monitoring tools and information, plus links to provincial monitoring and support relevant to the Canadian Prairies. | READ MORE
  An Islander has heeded the call to mass manufacture a trap to fight P.E.I.'s wireworm pest.
Nov. 28, 2016, Prince Edward Island – Health Canada's proposal to phase out a pesticide over three years will have a significant impact on Island farmers looking to control the Colorado potato beetle, says the P.E.I. Potato Board. | READ MORE
As part of the regular review process, Health Canada has completed its re-evaluation of imidacloprid, and has published its draft risk assessment for public comment. The assessment proposes current use of imidacloprid is not sustainable, and the levels of this pesticide that are being found in waterways and aquatic environments are harmful to aquatic insects, such as mayflies and midges, which are important food sources for fish, birds and other animals. Concentrations of imidacloprid in surface water can range from non-detectable to, in some rare cases, levels as high as 11.9 parts per billion, according to Health Canada. Scientific evidence indicates levels above 0.041 parts per billion are a concern. To address the risks identified, Health Canada has published a proposed risk management plan for public comment, which includes a proposed three-year phase-out of agricultural uses of imidacloprid in order to address risks to aquatic insects. In some cases, where there are no alternative pest control products available, a longer phase-out transition period of five years is being proposed. In a press release, Health Canada said it is consulting on these proposed mitigation measures, and the final re-evaluation decision and risk management plan will take into consideration any comments received during the consultations.  The consultation phase includes a 90-day commentary period in addition to a multi-stakeholder forum that will discuss any proposals for potential alternative mitigation strategies that would achieve the same outcomes in a similar timeframe.  Any proposals for continued registration will need to clearly demonstrate concrete actions to ensure levels of imidacloprid in water will be reduced below the level of concern. Based on the findings of the re-evaluation assessment on imidacloprid, Health Canada is also launching special reviews for two other widely used neonicotinoids: clothianidin and thiamethoxam. These special reviews will examine any potential risks these pesticides may pose to aquatic invertebrates, including insects, as they are also being detected frequently in aquatic environments. In the press release, Health Canada said it will provide updates as new information becomes available.
Bayer has launched Velum Prime nematicide, the first non-fumigant nematicide registered for potatoes in Canada. Velum Prime is a new mode of action and chemical class (pyridinyl ethyl benzamide) for nematode protection. It offers growers effective nematode protection that helps sustain plant vigor and maximize crop yield potential, according to a press release.Recent trials of Velum Prime demonstrated consistent yield and quality increases and reduction in plant parasitic nematodes, including root lesion, root knot and potato cyst nematode. Velum Prime is applied in-furrow at planting. It comes in a liquid formulation that offers reliable efficacy at low application rates making it ideal for use with existing in-furrow application equipment. Applied in-furrow, Velum Prime offers the added benefit of early blight protection. Maximum residue limits for Velum Prime applied in-furrow are in place supporting trade in North America and Europe. Additional MRLs supporting trade in other key export countries, including Japan, are expected early in 2017. For more information regarding Velum Prime, growers are encouraged to talk to their local retailer or visit cropscience.bayer.ca/VelumPrime.
May 4, 2016, Ontario – The early-planted potato crop in the Leamington area is sprouting nicely with strong, healthy sprouts. In the Simcoe-Delhi area, the second earliest area, planting is progressing well, according to the potato crop update from Eugenia Banks.A few seed lots coming from other provinces had high incidence of common scab and silver scurf.  Seed-borne silver scurf Silver scurf is a serious problem for fresh market growers. The fungus causes silvery brown lesions that can grow and join together covering most of the skin of the tuber. The fungus does not survive for very long in the soil, but does move from infected seed to daughter tubers. The variety Superior is very susceptible to silver scurf. If infected seed is planted, plan to harvest the crop as soon as the skin is set. Leaving potatoes in the ground after skin set stimulates the development of the fungus and results in more blemishes. Silver scurf also spreads easily in storage. High humidity increases sporulation, and air circulation in the pile spreads the spores to healthy tubers.  Quadris in-furrow and Emesto Silver as a seed treatment are labelled for silver scurf. Post-harvest applications of phosphorous-acid based fungicides have been reported to reduce the incidence of silver scurf. Late blight There were several outbreaks of late blight this year on potatoes and tomatoes grown in Florida. South Carolina has also reported late blight on tomatoes. All of the outbreaks were caused by US 23 strain. According to the potato pathologist at the University of Wisconsin, US 23 is susceptible to Ridomil. 
  New hope is on the horizon for potato growers engaged in the ongoing battle against Colorado potato beetle (CPB). Researchers are currently field-testing one of the most effective controls ever developed for the potato’s chief insect villain, and it is entirely chemical-free. RNA interference (RNAi) is a biological process whereby RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules activate a protective response against parasite nucleotide sequences by inhibiting their gene expression. In other words, it is the method by which organisms – including pests such as CPB – defend themselves against threats and regulate their own genes. But the same process that is used by a beetle to protect itself can be used to destroy it when it consumes the long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in genetically modified plants. Since 2009, researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam and Jena, Germany, have been developing genetically modified potato plants to enable their chloroplasts to accumulate dsRNA targeted against essential CPB genes. After feeding on a potato’s leaves – and ingesting the dsRNA – the beetles in the study showed 100 per cent mortality within five days. Why chloroplasts, rather than plant cell nuclei? In past breeding projects, expression of dsRNA in potato plants’ nuclei has proven inefficient because natural RNAi pathways in nuclei prevented the plant from producing enough long dsRNA. But long dsRNA are free to accumulate in chloroplasts – which have no RNAi mechanism – and the plants are fully protected against CPB. According to Jiang Zhang, a professor with the College of Life Science at Hubei University in China, and the lead on the project, the technology shows great promise for the future of pest management, but there are no immediate plans for commercialization until all regulatory hurdles have been overcome. “We encourage more scientists and industry involvement in this field for a better future,” Zhang says. “There is still a long way to go to make it really useful in daily life and be accepted by customers.” RNAi-based biocontrolRNAi for control of CPB has also gained significant momentum in private research and development. Monsanto and Syngenta have both devoted major investments toward the technology. In early 2015, Monsanto’s BioDirect technology platform targeted at CPB advanced to Phase 2 – early product development – of the company’s research and development pipeline. The product will have to complete advanced product development and pre-launch before broad commercialization early in the next decade. While the principle is the same, Monsanto’s product works differently than Max Planck’s modified potato plant: it is sprayed onto the plant’s foliage. Rather than expressing dsRNA in its leaves, dsRNA is applied exogenously to the plant. “The Colorado potato beetle consumes the leaves of the potato plant where we can focus the BioDirect application, versus needing a plant to produce the dsRNA targeting the pest below-ground where sprays cannot reach,” explains Greg Heck, weed control team lead for Monsanto’s chemistry technology area. Heck says there are thousands of dsRNA naturally present in host plants that serve a variety of functions, and beetles consume and incorporate dsRNA all the time. “When targeting them for pest control, we seek to supply one additional dsRNA that will turn down a specific gene critical to their ability to feed and grow on the plant. “Field research conducted on our BioDirect treatment for Colorado potato beetles has already demonstrated some early positive results. This includes reduced Colorado potato beetle larva infestation and plant defoliation in multiple geographies.” Syngenta’s most advanced RNA-based biocontrol targets CPB in potato – and is also applied via a spray. The company has tested the product in multiple geographies over several years with positive results, says Luc Maertens, Syngenta’s RNAi platform lead based in Belgium. The company hopes to commercialize the product early in the next decade pending continued development and regulatory reviews. Maertens says the company’s biocontrol is highly selective and starts to work before CPB can cause too much damage. “The biocontrol is not systemic [in the plant], nor does it work through contact,” he says. “It does not change or have any effect on the DNA of the pest, nor does it involve genetic modification of the plant.” No technology can work forever, however. Insect resistance to RNAi is a potential risk – one companies and researchers alike are keen to avoid so the technology has maximum benefit and longevity. Maertens says that as resistance emerges to existing technologies, and the pest spectrum shifts along with climate change and other factors, growers’ needs will change. “Those challenges cannot be answered by only one technology,” he says. “It is imperative to gain insights into probable resistance mechanisms to RNAi triggers in insects, to monitor possible resistance in the field, and to support the use of the technology with appropriate stewardship requirements.” Of the two methods of RNAi application (genetic modification and spray-on), Zhang believes the former might be better for growers. “Applying dsRNA exogenously is much less cost-effective than expressing dsRNA in the plant itself,” he says. “Spraying may also cause other potential problems in the environment.” RNAi is not meant to be a silver bullet and should be used as part of a multifaceted pest control strategy. Regardless of the method of application, RNAi may soon be working in a field near you.      
Potato farmers planted 347,416 acres of potatoes in 2018, an increase of 0.5 per cent from 2017, according to Statistics Canada's update on potato production.
Potatoes are eating up a growing slice of Alberta's agriculture sector. The province has about 21,500 hectares of farmland dedicated to potatoes and produced just over two billion pounds of spuds last year, putting the province third in the country behind Prince Edward Island (36,000 hectares) and Manitoba (27,235 hectares). With Cavendish Farms slated to open a new Lethbridge processing plant in 2019 — adding another 3,800 hectares — the potato industry is expecting another bump in growth in the coming years. | READ MORE
Interested in becoming a potato scout? The 2018 training of potato scouts will take place on June 4, 2018 at the Holiday Inn in Guelph, Ont., from 9:39 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eugenia Banks will lead the session and a scouting manual and handouts will be provided. To register, please email Eugenia Banks at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 
Robert Anderson and Jill Ebbett, fifth-generation potato farmers from East Glassville, N.B., were named Atlantic’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018.
A UPEI research project aimed at making potato farming more efficient has received funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. | READ MORE
Patates Dolbec, a family business created in 1967 based in Saint-Ubalde, Que., recently completed an expansion and modernization project through an investment under the Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program. This project, supported with a federal government investment of up to $4.5 million, includes the purchase and installation of new robotic equipment that will sort, grade, and pack more fresh potatoes in less time, enabling the company to improve their product quality, lower operational costs and develop new markets in the United States. The company specializes in potato packaging and employs more than 125 people. The new plant is intended to give Patates Dolbec more flexibility and allows the company to track data in real-time for better decision making and a more organized workplace.   
Farm Management Canada and the Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture Programs are accepting submissions from agricultural students across Canada for the 2017-18 Excellence Award for Agricultural Students. Three winners will receive scholarships toward furthering their education in agriculture. The award is designed to help students develop their communication skills by having the opportunity to voice their opinion on a subject related to farm management. Students are asked to submit a multimedia presentation, a video, a Twitter chat, a blog or a Wiki, responding to the following question: What aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should be addressed and amended in the current negotiations that will benefit Canada's agriculture sector? All applications must be received by May 6, 2018. More information can be found here.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership was launched April 1, with the intent to chart the course for government investments in the sector over the next five years. The partnership aims to continue to help the sector grow trade, advance innovation while maintaining and strengthening public confidence in the food system, and increase its diversity, according to a press release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments have been working collaboratively since 2016 to develop the next agricultural policy framework, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. FPT governments consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including producers, processors, small and emerging sectors to ensure the partnership was focused on the issues that matter most to them.In addition, under the partnership, business risk management programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage, the release states.Ministers of Agriculture will convene inVancouverthis July for the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture.
EU-funded scientists have discovered genetic markers that could allow potatoes to be selected for their ability to be stored at low temperatures, keeping them fresh and avoiding the use of anti-sprouting chemicals.
It will now be elementary for a P.E.I. raw potato preparation operation to inspect the inside of potatoes with new technology called the Sherlock Separator-2400.
Leading U.K. agronomy specialists, Levity CropScience, based at Myerscough College in Bilsborrow, recently unveiled their industry changing research at the British Potato exhibition in Harrogate.Based on independent field trials, from 2015 to 2017, Levity has demonstrated that their product, Potato Lono, increases potato yields by up to $1,000 per hectare. Trials were held in England, Ireland, Netherlands, and France.Potato Lono improves photosynthesis, and helps crops increase carbon efficiency during times of stress, improving tuber initiation and bulking. This can result in increased tuber numbers, when applied during tuber initiation, with trials showing increases of over 60,000 extra tubers per hectare across various potato varieties."We're excited to have revealed this groundbreaking data" said David Marks, Joint MD, Levity CropScience. "Our hard work has paid off and now growers around the world will be able to benefit from this research and our innovative application of this knowledge into unrivalled, pioneering fertilizer products."Anne Weston, Joint MD, Levity CropScience added: "Over the next few weeks, we will be attending several exhibitions to meet farmers and their advisers to highlight and discuss our results, including the fantastic benefits Levity CropScience's products offer the farming and horticultural industries throughout the world. It is another example of how our innovative Lancashire company is driving research into increasing crop yields throughout the world, which will ultimately benefit both the environment and the local population."
Farmers know the importance of keeping the land, water and air healthy to sustain their farms from one generation to the next. They also know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Member of Parliament for Delta and Minister of Public Services and Procurement, recently announced a $1.8 million investment with the University of British Columbia to determine carbon sequestration and GHG emissions, and develop beneficial management practices (BMPs) for increasing the efficiency of fertilizer use in blueberry, potato and forage crops.This project with the University of British Columbia is one of 20 new research projects supported by the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with universities and conservation groups across Canada. The program supports research into greenhouse gas mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm."This project will provide new science-based knowledge on net GHG emissions by accurately measuring GHG emissions and developing mitigation technologies for blueberry, potato and forage crops in the Lower Fraser Valley. The research team will use state-of-the-art instrumentation and automated measurement techniques to quantify annual GHG emissions. While the specific research objectives are targeted to fill regionally identified gaps in knowledge, they will be applicable more broadly to similar agricultural production systems across Canada and Global Research Alliance member countries," said Dr. Rickey Yada, Dean, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC.

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