Potatoes in Canada

Discussing the PMRA re-evaluations

Colorado potato beetle. Potato virus Y. Dickeya. Disease and pests that plague potato growers continue to grow and evolve. So too do the rules and regulations that monitor the use of pesticides and seed treatments.

March 5, 2018
By Jannen Belbeck

With the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) in the middle of re-evaluations, growers have urged the government agency to reconsider their stance on fungicides, insecticides and herbicides before final decisions and recommendations are made (most coming in December 2018). Groups like the Canadian Potato Council have been working with the PMRA to ensure these useful and often-necessary pesticides are not lost for good.

The PMRA re-evaluations include eight fungicides, four insecticides and one herbicide. Although no one is certain what exactly the new regulations will look like, all 13 pesticides will not be able to maintain their uses as they were before. In fact, nine of these pesticides were originally planned to be completely removed from agricultural use, while the remaining four were proposed to have some uses cancelled, and limitations to other uses. For example, Dithane and Polyram are on the chopping block to be completely removed from agricultural use, while Captan and Bravo are two of the fungicides proposed to have some uses cancelled and others limited, come December. Within this, there is extreme concern for managing pathogen resistance, and for potatoes as a crop specifically, of note is the concern of late blight resistance and Fusarium spp. for infected seed.

David Jones, the potato industry coordinator with the Canadian Horticulture Council, speaking at Manitoba Potato Production Days this year, says that proposed regulatory decisions have not been favourable to the horticultural/potato industry. Therefore, grower input via surveys is critical to correct PMRA assumptions for revised risk assessments.

Researchers and the agriculture industry as a whole continue to work hard correcting these improper assumptions with how growers utilize these products. In any case, continuing to research alternatives in defeating pests and diseases is still imperative. Breakthroughs in breeding and genetics could go a long way in helping fight pests like the Colorado potato beetle (see page 5).

Weed and disease detection at its earliest stages is also imperative in securing a safe and healthy crop. In this issue of Potatoes in Canada, you’ll find stories of the work and due diligence done by growers to scout, monitor and test potato seed in order to eliminate the possibility of a disease destroying crops (see the stories on page 8 and 12). Exciting news out of the weed management front as well: Researchers out of P.E.I. are in the process of developing and testing cost-effective sensor technology to control weeds while reducing input costs (page 18).

Continue to stay involved with industry leaders and groups – your voices and experience help to shape our industry. And as always, we wish you a prosperous growing season. 

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