What is late blight?
Late blight is a disease caused by an organism that produces a white fuzz on the underside of leaves which releases millions of spores that float through the air to infect other plants. The spores land on a susceptible leaf, germinate, and cause brown oily lesions. The spores splash on the ground and infect potato tubers, which become brown and rusty looking, with a granular texture. Crop losses due to late blight can cost the Canadian potato industry tens of millions of dollars annually.
Protecting the potato industry
AAFC late blight specialist Rick Peters says taking steps to prevent the disease from infecting potato crops is important to help protect the health of the industry. He advises home gardeners to ensure their tomato seeds are resistant to the US-23 strain of late blight. Resistant seeds can be purchased at most garden centres. Certified disease-free seed potatoes can also be found at garden centres or purchased from a local seed potato grower. Peters says potatoes grown from last year’s garden or those bought from the grocery store are not suitable for planting as these tubers have not been tested and certified as disease-free and could be susceptible to a variety of potato diseases.
AAFC has partnered with industry leaders to identify and track late blight strains in production areas across the country. Scientists are also looking at biological characteristics of the different strains including how they respond to treatments. This knowledge allows for better management and control of the strains in Canadian potato and tomato production areas. While scientists continue to study the disease, they maintain that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and home gardeners have an important role to play.
If you spot a suspected late blight infection in your garden this season, please contact the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries at 1-866-778-3762 for information on how to properly dispose of infected plants.
March 7, 2016, Charlottetown, PEI – A research team has discovered that Prince Edward Island is exporting more than just potatoes.
It turns out that 95 per cent of the nitrates that are emptying into the Northumberland Strait are coming from this province. And of these, 91 per cent are coming from the Island's agriculture industry. READ MORE
Sept. 11, 2015, MN – In a deal designed to protect sensitive groundwater and pine forests in central Minnesota, a large regional potato grower has agreed to scale back an ambitious expansion plan in exchange for state regulators dropping their demand for a broad environmental review. The Star Tribune reports. | READ MORE
April 30, 2014 - Are you a weather enthusiast? Do you keep regular rainfall records? There is a new weather network for you.
Farm & Food Care Foundation is pleased to announce its involvement with the Canada-wide Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) and the official Ontario launch of the program. The Ontario program is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Ministry of Environment and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs in the amount of $65,000 over two years. CoCoRaHS consists of a network of volunteer observers who upload daily precipitation information to the program website, www.cocorahs.org/canada.
CoCoRaHS began in Colorado in the late 1990s and now includes over 16,000 volunteer observers in the United States. It became operational in Manitoba in 2011, Saskatchewan in 2013 and a pilot is now underway in the Atlantic Provinces. The program is set to formally launch in Ontario and is looking for additional observers. Weather INnovations Consulting LP is providing logistical support for the program.
Along with training, CoCoRaHS observers use a monitoring kit which includes an official CoCoRaHS rain gauge and snow measuring equipment. Each day, when volunteers input their observations online, the data is immediately available publically through an interactive web map.
"Citizen science initiatives like this one are a great way to get Ontarians across the province engaged in watershed management. This project will allow us to learn more about regional and local weather events and how they impact our water supply, which will benefit consumers, farmers, businesses and government alike," said David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources.
"Data from CoCoRaHS is used by flood and drought forecasters, meteorologists, farmers, schools, gardeners, engineers, and many more," said CoCoRaHS Canada's Ontario Volunteer Coordinator, Karla Jackson. "Often CoCoRaHS fills in many of the gaps that exist between automated stations, providing a better indication of localized precipitation events for Ontario communities."
"The Farm & Food Care Foundation is pleased to support CoCoRaHS" says Bruce Christie, Farm & Food Care Foundation chair. "Weather data is an important factor in farm practices today. Additional localized weather monitoring is seen as a benefit to Canadian farmers and environmental sustainability."
Canadian participants now include Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Farm & Food Care Foundation, Manitoba Infrastructure & Technology, Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ontario Ministry of Rural Affairs, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and many local watershed management agencies.
The Farm & Food Care Foundation was established as a national charitable organization in 2011. The Foundation develops and supports programs to communicate with Canadians helping to build confidence and trust in Canadian food and farming. The Foundation relies on donations from individuals and businesses that are committed to ensuring a healthy and sustainable agri-food sector in the future.
March 28, 2014, Prince Edward Island – The P.E.I. Potato Board says it’s time for the public to move past the history and look at what today’s potato growers are doing to protect the environment.
"Potato farmers of today have learned a lot from past challenges and are making tangible changes in production practices in order to farm in a more environmentally sustainable fashion," said Gary Linkletter, charmain of the board, in a recent press release.
Linkletter continued that P.E.I. farmers have the highest level of enhanced environmental farm planning in Canada and also farm under the most stringent environmental legislation in Canada. “This means P.E.I. potato growers meet and often exceed both voluntarily developed and regulated standards that are higher than any other farmers in the country.”
There’s visible difference due to the work being done. Through collaborative effort between potato growers and the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture, construction of soil conservation structures has resulted in 1.1 million feet of terraces, 2.1 million feet of grassed waterways and 270,000 feet of farmable berms
Potato growers also use a wide range of other tools to improve environmental sustainability, according to the release. The approaches include use of buffer zones and set aside of sensitive land, nutrient management, strip cropping, crop rotation and residue-tillage equipment, new and lower input potato varieties and integrated pest management. Another initiative, Farming 4R Island, partners with other industry players to foster beneficial management practices that protect soil quality and reduce nitrate levels.
Some preliminary studies performed as part of the Nitrate Pilot Project with the Kensington North Watershed Group in 2013 showed an 11.5 per cent increase in income per acre with supplemental irrigation due to increased marketable yields, while another test from the same study showed a reduction in average residual nitrate levels by 31.4 per cent.
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Irrigation Show 2017 Mon Nov 06, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Alberta Potato Conference & Trade Show Tue Nov 14, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
South West Ag ConferenceWed Jan 03, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Potato Expo 2018Wed Jan 10, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM