The proposed final re-evaluation decision for mancozeb, which suggests cancelling all uses of mancozeb except on tobacco due to unacceptable risks to human health and the environment, was published on Oct. 5, 2018, with a three-month consultation period. The Canadian Horticultural Council and the Canadian Potato Council were granted an additional 60-day period after the consultation deadline to gather more information on how growers use mancozeb for horticultural crops, including potatoes.
The council released a survey that Canadian growers could complete online or by hard copy to gather more information during this period. The purpose of the survey is to gather grower provided data that is “highly representative of how mancozeb is used in potato production overall across Canada and within each province.”
“Specifically, mancozeb use rates, number of applications, the use of aerial application under irrigated and non-irrigated potato production and the effectiveness of chemical and non-chemical alternative controls will be determined,” explained David Jones, manager of potato industry coordination with the Canadian Potato Council.
As of Jan. 25, 2019 , only 16 of 135 total survey responses were from Manitoba. During Manitoba Potato Production Days in Brandon, producers, especially from the province and Alberta, were encouraged to participate in the survey to include how they use mancozeb so the PMRA could make a nuanced decision.
In the Prairie provinces, producers often use aerial applications for fungicides because of the nature of the landscape and the lower population compared to Eastern Canada. “But Manitoba has higher humidity, somewhat similar to some of the eastern provinces, so we’ve got a situation where we have a lot of fungicide applications due to our climate, but we also do those by air because of our topography,” said Darin Gibson, president and research agronomist at Gaia Consulting and presenter at Manitoba Potato Production Days.
The grower survey sought to include the variety of ways producers use the fungicide so that PMRA’s decision would be reflective of the fungicide’s use in Canada. “[Aerial applications] will be considered differently and I’m not sure how that affects the final outcome, but it’s important that PMRA has the best information possible about how these products are used across the country, otherwise they make assumptions about the worst case scenario,” Gibson said.
“[The survey’s] highly representative data will provide quantitative information that PMRA can use to verify or correct assumptions that they have previously used in their assessment of risk associated with mancozeb use in potatoes,” Jones added. “The desired outcome is that the collected data will contribute to revised risk assessments that are favourable to the continued use of mancozeb in potatoes.”
The proposed re-evaluation decision removed the original exception that allowed for foliar application of mancozeb on potatoes and will have a great impact on potato growers.
Currently, mancozeb is one of the most economical broad-spectrum fungicides for early and late blight. Not only is the price point attractive, but because it is a multi-site fungicide, there is a low risk of diseases developing resistance to mancozeb.
“One of the problems is when you lose some of these products to regulatory issues, you end up depending on some of these single-site fungicides, which have a much higher risk of resistance,” Gibson said.
Currently, multi-site fungicides, like mancozeb, chlorothalonil, or metiram, are the base for any potato fungicide program because there’s little risk of diseases developing resistance to these fungicides. Gibson explained that if mancozeb is removed from the growers’ toolbox, growers would have to switch to single-site products, such as either an early blight product or a late blight product. The cost of production will increase because growers will have to tank mix two products; each of those products being more expensive than mancozeb.
Mancozeb is not banned in the European Union or in the United States, having undergone its own re-evaluations in those countries in 2018 and 2005 respectively. Gibson said he’s cautiously optimistic. “It's going to end up in somewhat of a compromise where it'll be maybe three to five applications, hopefully more, but I'm optimistic that it's not going to end up at zero.”
The mancozeb use survey is available until Feb. 8, with anything submitted on Feb. 8 being accepted.
Since the low Prairie producers response numbers reported at the end of January, Jones said growers organizations in Manitoba and Alberta (KPPA, Peak, PGA) have made good effort to remind growers directly about the importance of participating in the Council’s survey. “The response from growers in Alberta and Manitoba has been excellent, representing about a third of the total responses received to date. The response rate is similar to the percentage of planted acres in those two provinces as a percentage of the total Canadian acres planted. This would indicate that the survey responses are highly indicative of potato production in Alberta and Manitoba,” Jones said.
“It's an important issue for Manitoba growers and it's just one of the important tools that growers have for protecting their potato crop and if they were to lose that one, they'll still be able to grow potatoes, but it's going to be more difficult and more expensive,” Gibson said. “So it's really important that growers get their information to the Hort Council so that can be passed on to PMRA, so they can hopefully keep an important tool for their production.”
The survey is available online, or by hard copy that could be submitted via email or fax. To complete the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/TWW76JJ.
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.
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.
Sponsored: MicroVent Vision Works with Any Storage System Design
With a myriad of potato storage systems out there ...
Sponsored: MicroVent Vision Offers Flexibility in Potato Storage
When it comes to controlling your potato storage v...
The state of succession planning across CanadaPotatoes in Canada is joining with Annex Business Media’s other…
Ivan Noonan recognized for his efforts in P.E.I.’s potato industryThe former general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, Ivan…
Deadline approaches for Excellence Award for ag studentsFarm Management Canada (FMC) and the Canadian Association of Diploma…
Alberta irrigation water quality information now available onlineThe Alberta Irrigation Districts Association (AIDA) announced the release of…
CPMA Convention and TradeshowTue Apr 02, 2019
Potato Association of America Annual Meeting Sun Jul 28, 2019
Alberta Potato Conference and TradeshowTue Nov 19, 2019