Canada
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.
Published in Research
While there are no "silver bullets" for combating wireworm, with ongoing research, Island farmers do have more options.

Dr. Christine Noronha, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has unveiled an effective wireworm trap. "The trap is a very simple light trap, called the NELT. It uses a solar powered light source to attract the adults of wireworms, click beetles. The beetles walk to the light and fall into a cup buried in the ground under the light,"  Noronha explained.

This is the first trap that catches female click beetles. Trapping the egg-laying females will gradually help reduce the wireworm population in the field. For the full story, click here
Published in Crop Protection
A sixth-generation farmer from Malden, N.B. has found a market for potatoes too small to sell to grocery stores.

Blue Roof Distillers is the first Canadian farm-to-bottle distillery making vodka from potatoes.

The family used to donate the tiny taters from its 350-acre farm to local cattle farmers for feed or sell them to a dehydration plant that would turn them into potato flakes.

But an oversupply of small potatoes meant the dehydration plant's prices were low, so the family needed a new business venture, says Devon Strang. For the full story, click here

Published in Markets and Marketing
While he maintains there will be a market for potatoes well into the future, Ghislain Pelletier predicts the future of the industry will bear little resemblance to the past.

The global vice-president for agronomy for McCain Foods was one of the keynote speakers at the recent annual meeting of the PEI Potato Board. Pelletier told the meeting he has spent virtually his entire life in the industry as he grew up on a farm near Grand Falls, N.B.

He said the 21st century marks an expansion of the age of technology that began in the 1960's and 1970's with the a growth in mechanization. Pelletier noted those decades also sowed the seeds for farm consolidation while the 1980's and 1990's saw more specialization on farms as well as the introduction of the agronomy practices and the introduction of sustainable farming practices. For the full story, click here
Published in News
The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has a new executive as a result of its December 4th board of directors meeting.

Darryl Wallace of Cascumpec was elected as the new chairman of the board. Wallace and his family own and operate Wallace Family Farms. He represents the processing sector for the West Prince District on the board.

The new vice-chairman of the board is Jason Hayden of Pownal. Hayden and his family own and operate Eastern Farms Ltd. He represents the tablestock sector for the Charlottetown District.

The third member of the executive committee is John Hogg of Summerside who was elected secretary-treasurer. Hogg represents the processing sector for the Summerside District.

Also joining the board is Chad Robertson of Marvyn's Gardens. He will be representing the Tablestock sector for the Montague/Souris District.

The remaining board directors are Rodney Dingwell, Alex Docherty, Fulton Hamill, Glen Rayner, Wayne Townshend, David Francis, Mark MacMillan and Harris Callaghan. Ashton Perry of Elmsdale also participates in Board meetings as a representative of the PEI Young Farmers Association.

The Board also recognized the efforts of retiring Board member Owen Ching, tablestock representative for the Montague/Souris District, for his service over the past few years.

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board represents Island potato farmers and assists in growing the markets for PEI Potatoes locally, nationally, and internationally. The Board supports the production of high quality potatoes in an environmentally responsible manner, and is funding and conducting research in the areas of soil health, pest and disease management, quality and yield.

Directors are elected to represent four districts across the province, and each district is represented by a seed grower, a tablestock grower and a processing grower. Directors serve three year terms and are eligible for re-election to serve a second three year term. The directors serving on the PEI Potato Board are all from family farms with a heritage of growing potatoes and other crops for many years.
Published in News
The PEI Potato Industry has released a 30 second commercial highlighting the industry. The farmers from the Island are proud of what they do and want to showcase the positive work.

The project was filmed over the summer and early fall on different farms and field locations all over Prince Edward Island. It was directed and produced by Furrow Creative in Charlottetown PEI. The video features Island potato farmers and their families doing what they do best – growing the best quality potatoes in the world.

"We have so much to be proud of and thankful for in our potato industry here on PEI. It's the backbone of our economy, it's a major part of our culture and PEI wouldn't be the same without it." says Rodney Dingwell, Chairman of the PEI Potato Board.

The video will air primarily on local television with a digital campaign airing in the Ontario and Atlantic Canadian markets.

So what does it take to grow a quality potato? For the PEI Potato industry, it takes an Island! For more information, visit: https://www.peipotato.org/

Published in Markets and Marketing
Cavendish Farms has officially opened its new potato storage facility, which will mean the company can supply potatoes year-round.

The new facility, says a statement, is 88,000 sq. ft. and has a refrigerated potato storage capacity of 48 million pounds. The facility is split into two separate buildings with each building being 44,000 sq. ft.

Cavendish Farms is using the Tolsma System, which will allow the company to maintain consistent quality potatoes all year for use at its two processing plants on the island. For the full story, click here.
Published in News
In an effort to shine a light on the current status of herbicide resistance in Canada, Top Crop Manager (TCM) has launched the Herbicide Use Survey!

As an industry leader providing up-to-date information and research, TCM is looking to gather input from producers across the country in order to develop a more thorough understanding of the state of herbicide resistance in Canada.

TCM's Herbicide Use Survey will offer participants the ability to help tell the story of these important crop protection tools by having farmers like you share how herbicides are being used.

The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and will ask details like soil and farm acreage, types of weeds being targeted, as well as management practices. All submissions will remain anonymous.

Those who complete the survey will be entered into a random draw for a $500 visa card! Complete the survey here.

The Herbicide Use Survey ends December 8th. Results will be collected and presented at the 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit in Saskatoon, Sask., on February 27 and 28.

Published in News
For the first time, evidence of the zebra chip pathogen has been found in potato fields in southern Alberta.

An infected potato psyllid insect carries the Lso (Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum) pathogen that can cause zebra chip disease in potato crops.

Zebra chip has affected potato crops in the U.S., Mexico and New Zealand and caused millions of dollars in losses. Potatoes with zebra chip develop unsightly dark lines when fried, making affected potatoes unsellable.

The first detection of Lso came from sampling cards collected at one site south of Highway 3, near Lethbridge, Alta. For the full story, click here
Published in Diseases
McCain Foods (Canada) has officially opened its new $65M state-of-the-art potato specialty production line, expanding the company's flagship potato processing facility in Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick.

The new 35,000 square foot McCain Foods potato specialty production line addition represents the largest capacity expansion investment in Canada in nearly 10 years. The investment is reflective of the continued growth of the North American frozen potato and potato specialty segments in both the retail and food service businesses.

"Florenceville continues to be the French fry capital of the world. The official opening of the new production line reflects McCain's ongoing commitment to invest in the needs of our consumers and customers today, and also the company's focus towards future product development and innovation," said Jeff DeLapp, president, NA, McCain Foods Limited.

"During our 60th year of business, investment in the Florenceville-Bristol facility is a testament to the importance the community holds as the birthplace of McCain Foods," added DeLapp. "In addition to the more than 40 new jobs created, the construction build stimulated economic activity within the region, and an additional demand of 4,000 acres of potatoes is to be supplied to the facility by New Brunswick potato farmers."

A strong, sustainable Canadian business

Since the company was founded in 1957, McCain's leadership in the Canadian frozen potato market segment across all retail, food service and quick service restaurants (QSR) channels is undisputed.

All of McCain's potato products are made from 100% real potatoes grown on farms close to our facilities, which are spread across the country in New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Alberta.

"McCain is proud to partner with over 150 farming families across the country" stated Shai Altman, President, McCain Foods (Canada) "Our delicious products are a direct result of the quality potatoes grown by farmers, many of whom share a multi-generational partnership with McCain, some dating back to our start 60 years ago."

For the past 60 years, McCain Foods has grown proudly from its Florenceville, New Brunswick roots. With 30 employees and sales of $150,000 in its first year of business in 1957, the company has grown to become a global enterprise with more than 20,000 employees operating out of 53 production facilities on six continents with sales in excess of CDN $9 billion, while remaining Canadian headquartered and family-owned.

Published in News
Some new high tech tools will soon give farmers a way to keep weeds down, cut costs and herbicide use dramatically and work around weed resistance to herbicides.

In collaboration with a University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) engineer, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada weed specialist Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill is turning to sensors, cameras and computer algorithms to detect the exact location of weeds in a field.

The digital technology will create a data base of images to identify weeds, essentially pinpointing only the areas where herbicide is required.

The technique could cut down herbicide use to a fraction of what it is now and could significantly reduce operating costs for growers.

Some hurdles remain to smooth out the sensor imaging, but the goal is to create field data that can be fed into software that farmers can purchase for use on their sprayers.

Initial equipment costs of around $20,000 could be recouped over a couple of years with the savings from reduced herbicide purchases.

Much like antibiotic resistance in human medicine, the number of weeds that are resistant to commonly used herbicides is on the increase.

Herbicides that were once worked well now offer limited control and the overuse of herbicides is a major factor in weed resistance to sprays.

McKenzie-Gopsill is now doing experiments to find out how resistant various commons weeds on PEI are to herbicides.

His research shows there is weed resistance to metribuzin, the active ingredient in the #1 herbicide used by potato growers.

Weeds collected from tests at AAFC Harrington Research Farm tolerated very high rates of metribuzin. Some fields where metribuzin was applied showed no weed control. This research has the potential to address this challenge while helping growers to continue to provide Canadians with healthy, high-quality food.
Published in Research
A $25,000 Ignition Fund grant in 2016 helped Deep Roots Distillery owner Mike Beamish create a new line of buckwheat whiskey, which could have added benefit for area potato growers. 

"Buckwheat is beneficial to potato farmers especially as a rotation crop that aids in soil health and reduces certain pests – and as it happens, it makes a very fine whiskey," said Beamish, who is hosting the 2017 Ignition Fund award ceremony at Deep Roots Distillery. To read the full story, click here.
Published in News
As the potato harvest kicks into high gear across the country, the general manager of United Potato Growers of Canada said there seems to be little in the way of surprises.

As of the first week of October, Kevin MacIsaac estimated the PEI harvest was approximately 15-20 per cent complete. READ MORE 
Published in News
Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, says the lack of rain will take a toll on potato yields in parts of the province — particularly West Prince.

Over the next week most growers across P.E.I. should start harvesting and storing potatoes, Donald said. Farmers will get a better idea of the yield closer to Halloween when the harvest ends. READ MORE
Published in News
The Government of Prince Edward Island and the P.E.I. Potato Board are partnering with Island farmers to provide fresh produce to those affected by the devastating Hurricane Irma in Florida.

A tractor trailer with more than 40,000 pounds of fresh produce will leave Prince Edward Island for Georgia where it will be distributed to victims of Hurricane Irma.

"The PEI Potato farmers always rise to a need and this is no exception, even during the busy harvest time," said Rodney Dingwell, chairman of the PEI Potato Board. "We have a very generous industry and it gives me great pride that we are so quick to respond when someone is in need. Not only with our own communities, but as far away as the southern U.S." READ MORE
Published in News
Irving-owned Cavendish Farms is opening a new $360-million frozen potato-processing plant in Lethbridge, bringing about 400 jobs to southern Alberta.

Company president Robert K. Irving said it is a big deal for agriculture in Alberta.

"Our business will grow from 6,000 acres of potatoes today, with our present land, up to over 15,000 acres," Irving said at the new plant's groundbreaking earlier this month. "Those 9,000 acres, it's an opportunity for the local farmers, the growers in the region, to really look at the opportunity to grow and expand their operations here and have a long-term future with potatoes." READ MORE
Published in News
Digging early in the morning is fine, but the combination of high temperatures and humidity in the afternoon makes harvesting potatoes very risky. I have started digging the variety trials, and some of the new entries look promising. They all yield well, but I have had these varieties in trial for only one year. I have attached a few photos of these 4 promising varieties. Here are my field notes:
Published in News
Representatives of the potato industry had a chance recently to view some potential new varieties that could someday find their way into Island fields.

Close to 50 industry representatives took the opportunity to take part in the annual Variety Day at Harrington Farm showcased potential entries for the Accelerated Release program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, variety trials conducted by the PEI Potato Board, as well as a tour of the organic potato acreage.

There was also a chance to view a soil building rotation trial being conducted in conjunction with the Enhanced Agronomy Initiative-- a fund established in 2016 by processing growers. READ MORE
Published in News
The potato person who said many years ago "A potato storage is not a hospital" was absolutely right. Diseased or bruised tubers do not get better in storage. Tubers bruised at harvest are easily invaded by soft rot or Fusarium dry rot, which can cause serious economic losses in storage.

Harvest management, in large part, is bruise management. Bruising also affects tuber quality significantly. In order to harvest potatoes with minimum tuber damage, growers need to implement digging, handling and storage management practices that maintain the crop quality for as long as possible after harvest.

Assuming all harvest and handling equipment are mechanically ready to harvest the crop with minimum bruising, there are several tips to preserve the quality of potatoes crop during harvest:
  1. Timely Vine Killing. Killing the vines when tubers are mature makes harvesting easier by reducing the total vine mass moving through the harvester. This allows an easier separation of tubers from vines.
  2. Timely Harvest. Potatoes intended for long term storage should not be harvested until the vines have been dead for at least 14 days to allow for full skin set to occur.
  3. Soil Moisture. Optimal harvest conditions are at 60-65% available soil moisture.
  4. Tuber Pulp Temperature. Optimal pulp temperatures for harvest are from 500F to 600F. Proper pulp temperature is critical; tubers are very sensitive to bruising when the pulp temperature is below 450F. If pulp temperatures are above 650F, tubers become very susceptible to soft rot and Pythium leak. Pulp temperatures above 70°F increase the risk of pink rot tremendously no matter how gently you handle the tubers if there is inoculum in the soil.
  5. Tuber Hydration. An intermediate level of tuber hydration results in the least bruising. Overhydrated tubers dug from wet soil are highly sensitive to shatter bruising especially when the pulp temperature is below 450F. In addition, tubers harvested from cold, wet soil are more difficult to cure and more prone to breakdown in storage. Slightly dehydrated tubers dug from dry soil are highly sensitive to blackspot bruising.
  6. Reducing Blackspot Bruising. Irrigate soil that is excessively dry before digging to prevent tuber dehydration and blackspot bruising.
  7. Bruise Detection Devices. Try to keep the volume of soil and tubers moving through the digger at capacity at all points of the machine. If bruising is noticeable, use a bruise detection device to determine where in the machinery the tubers are being bruised.
  8. Do not harvest potatoes from low, poorly drained areas of a field where water may have accumulated and/or dig tests have indicated the presence of tubers infected with late blight.
  9. Train all employees on how to reduce bruising. Harvester operators must be continually on the lookout for equipment problems that may be damaging tubers. Ideally, growers should implement a bruise management program that includes all aspects of potato production from planting through harvest.
  10. Harvest when day temperatures are not too warm to avoid tuber infections. Storage rots develop very rapidly at high temperatures and spread easily in storage. If potatoes are harvested at temperatures above 27o C and cool off slowly in storage, the likelihood of storage rots is increased. If warm weather is forecast, dig the crop early in the morning when it is not so warm.
Published in Harvesting
All the isolates of late blight -Phytophthora infestans tested were US-23 for 2017. No new late blight incidence has been reported in the last week, which has generally been dry, warm and windy. The 7-day DSV accumulation for late blight risk has been essentially minimal. Harvest has begun in many areas.

The warm conditions has slowed the harvest of some processing fields, to prevent bringing warm tubers into storage. The seasonal accumulated precipitation has been 50-70% of normal in the potato growing areas (Fig1). The soils are generally on the dry side (Fig 2), but irrigated fields have sufficient moisture for a good harvest. READ MORE
Published in Diseases
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