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.
Stronger potato varieties will increase yields for Canadian growers, which translates into higher profits.
Dr. Benoit Bizimungu, head of potato breeding at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, said a number of hybrids bred from these wild varieties could be ready for industry trials next year.
Bizimungu selected the German plants because of superior traits such as high yield, as well as strong natural resistance to PVY, late blight, drought, and insects like the Colorado potato beetle.
“Although the primary interest was multiple disease resistance and high yield potential, a number of progenies show a nice deep yellow flesh color, which is usually associated with carotenoids,” Bizimungu explains. This is great news for consumers who want more antioxidants in their diet.
“What is really exciting is that some of these wild species have never been used in potato breeding before now,” he says. “Using these new parents broadens the genetic base.”
“It’s good to have multiple sources for breeding, especially for things like late blight where it keeps changing.”
Dr. Bizimungu obtained this unique plant material as a result of his collaboration with potato geneticist Dr. Ramona Thieme of the Julius Kuhn-lnstitut (JKI) at the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants in Braunschweig, Germany.
The imported species come from wild potato cultivars that originated in South America, the birthplace of the potato.
Robert Anderson and Jill Ebbett, fifth-generation potato farmers from East Glassville, N.B., were named Atlantic’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Louis-Pierre Comeau is sifting his way through New Brunswick soil in search of answers to one of the biggest issues facing local farmers: the loss of soil organic matter and the decrease of soil health in farm fields.
This project, supported with a federal government investment of up to $4.5 million, includes the purchase and installation of new robotic equipment that will sort, grade, and pack more fresh potatoes in less time, enabling the company to improve their product quality, lower operational costs and develop new markets in the United States.
The company specializes in potato packaging and employs more than 125 people. The new plant is intended to give Patates Dolbec more flexibility and allows the company to track data in real-time for better decision making and a more organized workplace.
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Process Expo 2019 Tue Oct 08, 2019
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