Field Crops
A P.E.I. family-owned farm operation, Eric C. Robinson Inc., is closing the potato growing and packaging portion of its farming division to focus on the soybeans, forage and barley it already produces.
Published in News
As of Feb. 5, 2019, 250 Canadian potato growers have participated in the Canadian Potato Council’s survey on mancozeb use, which will be submitted to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to assist with the re-evaluation of the fungicide.

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.
Published in News
Ontario corn producers are dealing with high-DON (deoxynivalenol) in grain corn this year. High amounts of the mycotoxin are harmful to animals, so high-DON corn is unsuitable for feed and producers have limited end use options.
Published in Crop Protection
P.E.I Potato Agronomy shares harvest considerations for Island producers battling tough harvest conditions, including disposing of tare soil properly at storages, thoroughly cleaning shared equipment to reduce biosecurity concerns, and taking care of producer wellness through available support programs. | READ MORE
Published in Harvesting
Research that would help determine what species and strains of the common scab bacterium are prevalent in Ontario is underway, according to Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board.
Published in Diseases
Barcelona, a yellow-fleshed variety with smooth skin, was the highest yielding variety in a non-irrigated trial just northwest of Hamilton, Ont., according to Eugenia Banks' latest potato update. 
Published in Traits and Genetics
Early harvest for potatoes continues in southwest Ontario, while crops in central Ontario are still blooming or going down, according to Eugenia Banks' potato update. 
Published in Harvesting
The results from Ontario spore traps are negative for late blight in Alliston, Shelburne and Simcoe-Delhi areas as of July 31, according to Eugenia Banks’ latest potato update.
Published in Diseases
Black cutworms were found in a number of fields near Delhi, Ont., on July 26, according to Eugenia Banks' latest potato update. 
Published in Pest Control
Ontario's hot weather keeps late blight in check but some growers are seeing sunburnt stems and heat stress in their potato crop. 
Published in Diseases
The most recent reports coming out of a 20-year study on P.E.I. soil health are showing a general decline in soil organic matter (SOM). The news is causing alarm, but for Vernon Campbell, a potato farmer, the headlines aren’t all that shocking. In fact, he said it’s a situation Island producers are already actively working to fix. | READ MORE
Published in Soil
If it wasn’t for a single rainfall event, Robert Irving, the president of Cavendish Farms, says the 2017 potato growing season could have been a disaster. To meet the challenge of dry weather conditions, Irving says industry leaders and the government need to come together and find a sustainable solution. Supplemental irrigation is part of the solution when rainfall isn’t enough, but the province's moratorium on digging wells is a roadblock. | READ MORE
Published in News
Potatoes are eating up a growing slice of Alberta's agriculture sector. The province has about 21,500 hectares of farmland dedicated to potatoes and produced just over two billion pounds of spuds last year, putting the province third in the country behind Prince Edward Island (36,000 hectares) and Manitoba (27,235 hectares). With Cavendish Farms slated to open a new Lethbridge processing plant in 2019 — adding another 3,800 hectares — the potato industry is expecting another bump in growth in the coming years. | READ MORE
Published in Markets and Marketing
Wild potatoes acquired from a gene bank in Germany six years ago are producing promising results for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers trying to develop superior Canadian varieties with resistance to some of the most problematic potato diseases. 


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. 

Published in Traits and Genetics
Interested in becoming a potato scout? The 2018 training of potato scouts will take place on June 4, 2018 at the Holiday Inn in Guelph, Ont., from 9:39 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eugenia Banks will lead the session and a scouting manual and handouts will be provided. To register, please email Eugenia Banks at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Published in Business & Policy

Robert Anderson and Jill Ebbett, fifth-generation potato farmers from East Glassville, N.B., were named Atlantic’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018.

Published in Business & Policy
A UPEI research project aimed at making potato farming more efficient has received funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. | READ MORE
Published in Research

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.

Published in Soil
Potato virus Y (PVY) affects both yield and the quality of the crop, making it one of the most dangerous diseases faced by commercial potato producers. Spread by aphids and through infected seed lots, PVY has been managed with varying levels of success by Canadian growers for many years, but the rise of more aggressive and faster-spreading strains has made it even more challenging to control.
Published in Diseases
Patates Dolbec, a family business created in 1967 based in Saint-Ubalde, Que., recently completed an expansion and modernization project through an investment under the Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program. 

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. 
 
Published in Business & Policy
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