As new as I am to the potato industry in Canada, it didn’t take long for me to recognize the trials and tribulations growers must overcome to put one of the country’s (and world’s) most loved foods on the table.
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to pick up the latest issue of Top Crop Manager – West, let me introduce myself: I am the new editor for both the above-mentioned publication and the one you hold in your hand now. I’m trying to fill some rather large shoes, replacing Stefanie Croley, who remains with Annex Business Media, but in a different role. Prior to joining Annex, I was a managing editor with a Calgary media company, and for several years before that, I was the western bureau chief for a B2B media company covering the commercial transportation sector in Western Canada and part of the U.S. Though I have much experience on the media side of things, I don’t have much (actually, let’s just say I have none) on the potato industry side, so like I wrote in my first editorial for Top Crop Manager – West, I will be relying on Potatoes in Canada readers to teach me a few things along the way.
Staying on the topic of learning new things, I was able to attend my first industry event in January, when I visited Brandon, Man., for Manitoba Potato Production Days. A much larger event than I was expecting, the main thing that stood out to me – aside from the fact that you can make donuts out of potatoes, and they are absolutely delicious – was the seemingly endless hurdles growers must overcome to bring their yearly yield to fruition. Whether it’s pink rot, early blight, late blight, common scab, Fusarium dry rot or that menacing little wireworm, growers have a lot to worry about with potato health.
When it comes to overall farm commodities in Canada, potatoes sometimes gets undeservedly overlooked due to other large players like dairy, wheat, canola and cattle. Which, in my opinion, makes this niche market that much more important for Canadian consumers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a household in Canada or the U.S. that doesn’t have a bag of potatoes in their cupboard. The fact that this starchy tuber (I just learned the word tuber recently) reigns so supreme as a North American dietary staple, the growers who battle these diseases, manage unpredictable weather and deal with regulatory uncertainty need to be applauded for what they do.
And, as my first order of business, let me do just that. We all know how farming in general as an occupation has shrunk over the decades – the number of farms decreasing by 44 per cent since 1976 – which makes what you do that much more important. For that, I say, “thank you,” and I look forward to meeting many passionate potato growers as I take on this new challenge of covering your industry.
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