Potatoes in Canada

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Ontario invests in disease research to improve crop production


July 15, 2019
By Potatoes in Canada

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The Ontario government will invest $1.3 million in research to develop new practices and on-farm solutions for fruit, vegetable and field crop farmers to prevent and control crop diseases and pests. The investment aims to boost productivity and profitability for farmers.

“We know plant diseases can be very difficult to deal with and expensive for farmers,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By giving crop farmers up-to-date information and tools, they can make better decisions to sustain and improve crop health and productivity.”

Through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, the province is funding research projects at the University of Guelph to help optimize production and minimize the damage and economic losses caused by crop diseases and pests on Ontario farms, including:

  • Surveillance for blight management decisions in field tomatoes
  • Investigating the threat of onion thrips to greenhouse floriculture pest management programs
  • Developing approaches to combat Fusarium disease in wheat
  • Assessing management in sugar beets to reduce crop disease
  • Investigating production of a year-round supply of high-quality potatoes for Ontario
  • Improving grape rootstock to prevent winter losses in sensitive areas.

Two particular research projects are of interest to potato growers: surveillance for blight management in field tomatoes and the possible production of a year-round supply of potatoes for Ontario. Diseases that affect tomatoes can also impact potato fields. The late blight pathogen strain US-23 growing in popularity across North America first got its start with a preference for tomatoes in backyard gardens. Research into better disease management in tomatoes can have beneficial spillover effects for potato growers. In addition, investigating a year-round supply of high-quality potatoes for Ontario can boost the current productivity and profitability of the province’s potato producers.