Business & Policy
Supporting seed potato production in Newfoundland
By Potatoes in Canada
Aug. 20, 2015, St. John’s, NL – Newfoundland’s Nuclear Seed Potato Propagation Facility recently showed off the first crop of its nuclear seed potatoes grown from plantlets produced at the facility.
By Potatoes in Canada
The propagation facility was established to meet the ongoing demands of the province’s potato industry. It maintains the continuous supply of nuclear class seed potatoes and supports ongoing development of potato varieties that are resistant to agricultural diseases and pests and specifically designed for local growing conditions. Nuclear seed potatoes are potatoes that have been produced from disease-free tissue culture plantlets under controlled environmental conditions.
The Honourable Vaughn Granter, Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, Melvin Rideout, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, and other industry stakeholders were invited to the facility to view the crop on Aug. 19.
“This facility is critically important to the province’s agriculture industry and potato producers in particular. Commercial seed potato farmers are able to grow and multiply quality seed potatoes that have been specifically developed and tested for Newfoundland and Labrador’s growing environment. Commercial potato farmers then use these seed potatoes to grow potatoes for consumers’ tables all throughout the province,” Rideout said.
Filling a gap
In April 2012, the federal government announced the closure of its Plant Health Facility in St. John’s, resulting in the loss of a provincial source for nuclear seed stock to service the province’s seed potato industry. To fill this gap, and to ensure the industry maintains the ability to produce the necessary nuclear seed stock, the provincial government established the Nuclear Seed Potato Propagation Facility.
The facility comprises two greenhouses and a propagation laboratory. It became fully operational in late 2014 and propagated its first potato plantlets in January.
Seed potatoes for Newfoundland and Labrador’s potato industry are currently propagated, or multiplied, at the Nuclear Seed Potato Propagation Facility before being further multiplied in the field at the provincial government’s Glenwood Seed Potato Farm. The potatoes are then made available to provincial seed potato farmers who sell them to potato producers and hobby farmers throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Maintaining a stable and local supply of nuclear seed potato stock is critical to the support and growth of a sustainable potato industry within the province. Growth in the agricultural sector supports employment opportunities and contributes to enhanced food security which provides social and economic benefits to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” Minister Granter said.