Horticultural Crops
From planting and digging potatoes to observing insects feeding on plants to learning about coloured spuds, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Fredericton Research and Development Centre opened its doors and wowed visitors with plenty to see and do.
Published in News
Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have completed the food, feed and environmental safety assessments of J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate potatoes. The authorizations enable the potatoes to be imported, planted and sold in Canada, complementing the three varieties of Innate first generation potatoes that received regulatory approval last year.
Published in Traits and Genetics

Researchers are hoping Canadian potato growers will soon be able to use an innovative approach to control wireworms. This method uses just a few grams of insecticide per hectare applied to cereal seeds that are planted along with untreated seed potatoes. It provides very good wireworm control for the whole growing season, with a lower environmental risk than currently available insecticide options.

Published in Crop Protection
Chinese scientists will attempt to grow potatoes on the moon as part of a forthcoming lunar mission.
Published in Research

March 14, 2016, Prince Edward Island – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomologist Dr. Christine Noronha has designed a simple and environmentally green trap using hardware store items that could be a major breakthrough in the control of wireworms, an increasingly destructive agricultural pest on PEI and across Canada. 

The Noronha Elaterid Light Trap, or “NELT”, is made with three pieces - a small solar-powered spotlight, a plastic white cup and a piece of screening. The light is set close to the ground to attract the source of the wireworms, the female click beetles that emerge from the ground in May and June. Each of these beetles can lay between 100 and 200 eggs that produce the larvae known as wireworms. In a six-week test with 10 traps, more than 3,000 females were captured in the plastic cups, preventing the birth of up to 600,000 wireworms. The screening prevents beneficial predator insects from being caught in the trap.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Office of Intellectual Property is trademarking the trap name and design and work is underway to find a manufacturer who might be interested in mass-producing the trap.

The NELT is the latest in a series of wireworm control measures being developed by a team that includes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the PEI Potato Board, the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Cavendish Farms, the PEI Horticultural Association, growers and consulting agronomists.  Wireworms live in the soil and drill their way through tuber and root crops like potatoes and carrots. The PEI Potato Board estimated wireworm damage to the province’s potato crop alone at $6 million in 2014.

To learn more about the NELT, be sure to sign up for an exclusive webinar with Christine Noronha, hosted by Potatoes in Canada magazine, on May 12. 

Published in Technology

March 11, 2016, Edmonton, Alta – Mike Harding doesn’t usually favour sensational titles for the presentations he gives to farmers.

On March 1, the Alberta Agriculture crop pathologist made an exception with his talk to potato growers on Fusarium: The Silent Storage Killer. He said fusarium in potatoes “flies under the radar” be-cause it can develop slowly in stored product and do major damage before it is noticed. READ MORE

Published in Diseases

March 9, 2016, Prince Edward Island – The Island’s staple potato industry may be experiencing a slump, writes The Guardian. At least one Island potato grower who recently attended the International Potato Expo says farms like his are struggling to sell potatoes because there are just too many of them. | READ MORE

Published in Markets and Marketing

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

Published in Research

March 3, 2016, Charlottetown, PEI – With its highest attendance in a decade, the 2016 edition of the International Potato Technology Expo – held Feb. 26-27 – was a resounding success.

Approximately 3,200 industry professionals walked the show floor to check out the diverse grouping of local, regional, national, and international exhibitors. Potato growers, together with the leading manufacturers of equipment and product solutions from across the Maritimes and beyond were in attendance.

Matt Mitchell, show manager, said he was very pleased with the outcome of the event.

“We were happy to see that this year’s edition drew the show’s highest attendance since 2006,” he said. “I think the excellent conference program really contributed to that, given that it was so well attended. Likewise, we certainly couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the addition of the tractors was a great draw for potato farmers.”

Exhibitors echoed the positive sentiments.

“This year’s show was another very successful event,” said Brian Beaton, potato industry coordinator with the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. “All the major suppliers to the potato industry were there and attendance by potato growers was very high. I heard many positive comments about the speakers at the conference and many said that they picked up some valuable information for their farm.”

“The potato expo provided an excellent opportunity to connect with our customers and others in the ag industry,” said Karen MacInnis Larter, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) marketing program manager.

“We were proud to be the major sponsor for this year’s event,” she added. “It was a great showcase and an excellent learning event for producers. They could find industry related information pertinent to their operations and hear top-notch speakers. It was a quality event from start to finish.”

“We found the expo extremely beneficial,” said Trent Cousins, Allan Potato Handling Equipment Ltd. “We feel there was a huge attendance from our industry. Having our exhibit in the show put us in touch with many customers, both new and existing, that we may not have had the chance to meet with. We will definitely be attending again in the future.”

“I can honestly say that this year show was by far better for us in quality lead generation and people coming to visit our booth; industry interest was like we haven’t seen in a few years,” said Marco Gagnon, GOW Group Inc. “All in all, we qualify this event a success for us.”

This year, a full educational conference program was offered alongside the tradeshow portion of the event. It featured seminar presentations from leading experts, including Dr. Tom Wolf, Agrimetrix Research & Training, Saskatoon, SK; Dr. Bernie Zebarth, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fredericton, NB; Dr. Gefu Wang-Pruski, Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus, Truro, NS; and Lane Stockbrugger, Farm Credit Canada, Englefeld, SK. The conference was well attended with 173 registrants and strong attendance for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

The next edition of the International Potato Technology Expo will occur in February 2018 and information will be posted online at www.PotatoExpo.ca as it becomes available.

Published in Machinery

February 23, 2016, West Prince, PEI – A West Prince potato farmer is hoping a new variety of spud with distinctive pink markings will be a big hit in Island stores, and eventually make its way to the U.S.

Johnny MacLean, from West Devon, bought the exclusive North American rights for the seed. But the potatoes didn't have a name – just a number. So he dubbed them Smilin' Eyes Irish Gold. READ MORE

Published in News

Feb. 12, 2016, Canada – Double Nickel biofungicide is now available for use by Canadian growers of fruiting and leafy vegetables, potatoes, grapes, strawberries, tree fruit and other crops. Double Nickel represents a new generation of fungicides and bactericides that have biologically based active ingredients, are of low risk to the environment and are sustainable crop protection solutions, according to a press release. Manufactured by Certis USA, Double Nickel is registered for use in five countries, including the U.S. where it has been used by American growers for more than two years. 

Double Nickel is a naturally occurring strain (D747) of the beneficial rhizobacterium Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. B. amyloliquefaciens rapidly colonizes roots, leaves and other plant surfaces to prevent establishment of disease-causing fungi and bacteria, such as powdery mildew, Botrytis, bacterial disorders, damping off, and root and crown diseases, such as ythium, rhizoctonia, Fusarium and sclerotinia. 

The release adds that Double Nickel uses multiple non-toxic modes of action to control and suppress diseases. 1) Its metabolites kill fungal pathogens by damaging cell membranes. 2) The metabolites control bacterial pathogens by disrupting cell walls. 3) Double Nickel triggers a SAR/ISR response from the plant prompting it to defend itself against pathogens. 4) Double Nickel prevents infection from pathogens through competitive exclusion. These multiple modes of action make the FRAC 44 biofungicide highly effective in the field. 

Double Nickel is of low risk to bees and beneficials, according to the press release. It has a four-hour re-entry, can be applied up to and including the day of harvest, at low use rates. Double Nickel is residue exempt, so there are no minimum residue level (MRL) issues limiting the export of treated crops. 

The biofungicide is available as Double Nickel 55 WDG and in a liquid concentrate (LC) formulation. Double Nickel 55 leaves no visible residue on the crop. 

Double Nickel 55 WDG and Double Nickel LC will be distributed exclusively by UAP Canada. 

Published in News

February 12, 2016, Calgary, Alta – Potato growers across Canada have the option of applying Delegate insecticide by air for control of Colorado potato beetle and European corn borer.

“If a seed treatment was not used, or is not offering sufficient control of insects, plan to use Delegate insecticide in your crop,” says Mark Alberts, product manager at Dow AgroSciences. “Delegate is a non-neonic product which provides rapid foliar control of target pests. This aerial application registration is an opportunity for applicators and growers to integrate an excellent new control measure with a unique mode of action into their programs.”

The active ingredient in Delegate is Spinetoram, a member of the spinosyn class of chemistry (Group 5) and controls a broad spectrum of pests by both contact and ingestion. It provides knockdown and residual activity in many fruit, vegetable and field crops, including potatoes. According to the company, Delegate affects the insect nervous system. It does not interact with the known binding sites of other classes of insecticide. Because of Delegate’s mode of action, it is an excellent rotational product that can be used in an IPM system.

Further information on Delegate is available at DowAgro.ca.

Published in News

February 12, 2016, Fredericton, NB – Bright pink and purple are the hot new fashion colours for Spring 2016, for potatoes.

Every year the federal government releases new kinds of potatoes to the marketplace: the spuds that eventually end up sprouting in our gardens, turning golden in our deep fryers and mushed under our mashers.

This year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has released 16 new kinds of potatoes, including one that may be better than the current standard French fry potato, the Russet Burbank. READ MORE

Published in Research

Feb. 3, 2016, Ontario – Eugenia Banks recently received the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association (OFVGA) 2016 Award of Merit at the OFVGA annual general meeting in January.

Banks hails from Santiago, Chile where she completed her bachelor of science degree at the University of Chile. She studied further at the University of Guelph where she completed her masters and PhD. Her connection to the potato industry started in 1990, when she began working for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) as a potato specialist.

In those years, Banks made herself available to growers whenever needed, tirelessly identifying problems with unique solutions. Her first battle was against the Colorado potato beetle, which was resistant to all pesticides that were registered to control it. For five years, Banks and potato growers would use propane flamers, vacuums, and plastic line trenches to control the pest into control by 1995. What started as very little knowledge of the potato industry grew exponentially over the years with dedication, commitment, and a desire to learn. Today, Banks is a respected potato expert. Her most successful endeavours include the evaluation of new potato varieties through practical field trials, tackling the aggressive strain of late blight that originally caused the Irish Famine, scout training days, and the Ontario Potato Conference held annually.

“Each year brought new challenges, but by working together we got positive results,” Banks said of her work with farmers in a press release. “Ontario potato growers are knowledgeable, innovative, hard working, and resilient. I will share this award with them.”

Published in Research

Jan. 25, 2016, Guelph, Ont. – Registration is now open for the 2016 Ontario Potato Conference, to be held March 1 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in Guelph. 

 

The deadline for the early bird registration at the reduced fee of $50 is Feb. 25. Lunch, coffee breaks and parking are included in the registration fee. The agenda and registration information can be found here

 

Published in Business Management

Jan. 25, 2016, Prince Edward Island – The dropping dollar, which is hovering just above the 70-cent U.S. mark, has not translated into bargain-hunting American importers snapping up spuds south of the border. In fact, U.S. exports of P.E.I.'s 2015 crop are down about four per cent, according to the PEI Potato Board. CBC News has more details. | READ MORE

Published in Markets and Marketing

Jan. 25, 2016, Ontario – Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, says farmers are being subsidized by not having to pay taxes on diesel fuel designated for field-equipment use.

Dyed reddish-purple, the diesel is bought by farmers in bulk for use in farm machinery. It’s not allowed in farm trucks or other vehicles used mainly on roads.

But maybe that subsidy — gasoline tax breaks in Ontario amount to $190 million a year — should be replaced by something that supports agriculture, but doesn’t also encourage the use of climate-changing fossil fuels, Saxe said in an interview. | READ MORE

Published in Machinery

January 14, 2015, Boise, ID – The Food and Drug Administration says a potato genetically engineered to resist late blight is as safe as any other potato on the market.

In a recent letter to Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co., the FDA says the potato isn't substantially different in composition or safety from other products already on the market, and it doesn't raise any issues that would require the agency to do more stringent premarket vetting.

The company says the potato must next be cleared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can be marketed to consumers. That's expected to happen in December.

The Russet Burbank Generation 2 is the second generation of Simplot's Innate brand potatoes. It includes the first version's reduced bruising.

Published in News

January 4, 2015, Carberry, Man – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development officials recently announced an investment of nearly $380,000 for the McCain Foods Canada potato processing plant in Carberry.

The governments' investment, provided under Manitoba's Growing Forward 2 Growing Value program, will be used to install new and innovative equipment at the facility. The plant processes about 430 million pounds of Manitoba-grown potatoes every year, mostly into French fries.

"In order to stay competitive, it's important to have equipment that runs efficiently, allowing maximum productivity and minimal waste,” said Dean Melnic, plant manager with McCain Foods, Carberry. “We export 80 per cent of the products we make at our plant, so investments in equipment help support our employees, local growers, and the surrounding communities."

The governments' investment represents half of the total equipment cost. McCain Foods Canada has invested more than $30 million in other upgrades to the Carberry facility over the last 10 years, including a $23 million wastewater upgrade. The potato processing plant employs about 220 people, with another 10 positions to be created over the next three years as a result of the new equipment.

Manitoba is Canada's second-largest potato producer behind PEI, supporting 120 potato growers and employing 1,500 full-time and casual workers. In 2013, 70,000 acres of potatoes were grown in Manitoba, valued at about $192 million.

Published in Machinery

December 22, 2015, Charlottetown, PEI – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board recently announced a new plan for potato disinfection on Prince Edward Island.

The revised program was formed through collaboration with industry members and the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, as well as independent scientific consultation. The board believes the plan will meet the needs of potato farmers and address concerns voiced after the previously announced changes to the potato disinfection program.

Effective January 1, the Prince Edward Island Potato Board will take over responsibility for disinfection services offered at the Borden-Carleton Inspection Station. Disinfection services will be available at this location for any trucks moving potatoes. As a transition measure, provincial staff will assist with disinfection services at the Borden facility until March 31, 2016.

The PEI Potato Board will also host a series of workshops across Prince Edward Island in January to provide potato farmers, packers, and other industry partners with all of the necessary information to perform disinfection. These workshops will address biosecurity, Bacterial Ring Rot (BRR), and practical approaches to achieving top-notch cleaning and disinfection on farms. A standard disinfection log book and certification form will be provided to farmers to record their disinfection activities as supporting documentation to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and other interested parties. Furthermore, support will be offered through the Canada-PEI Growing Forward II programs to assist farmers with the purchase and installation of disinfection equipment.

Some private businesses have contacted the board to indicate their availability to provide third party disinfection services. These businesses will also be offered standard forms to record that disinfection services have been provided.

The PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the Plant Health Act, will retain regulatory responsibility for oversight of PEI potato farms (both seed and non-seed) if BRR infection occurs.

The PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will continue to provide dedicated cleaning and disinfection services under contract with CFIA for potato wart regulated land.

The Prince Edward Island potato industry worked with both levels of government over many years to bring Bacterial Ring Rot to the point of functional eradication, and it is important that growers maintain on-farm biosecurity measures to protect against potential sources of infection.

CFIA regulations require that all trucks transporting bulk seed potatoes must be cleaned and disinfected before being loaded. The new disinfection strategy continues to meet these requirements and reassures buyers of Prince Edward Island seed potatoes that there will be no disruption in disinfection service. Prince Edward Island potatoes will continue to meet or exceed federal regulations.

“The plan announced addresses our need to ensure biosecurity for our seed sector, the foundation of our Island potato industry,” said Greg Donald, general manager of the PEI Potato Board. “Through a collaborative approach with multiple experts and industry partners, we are pleased to arrive at a solution which maintains or enhances measures to prevent outbreaks of potato diseases such as Bacterial Ring Rot.”

“The Province of Prince Edward Island recognizes the contribution of the Island’s potato farmers to our province and that through constructive collaboration between the Province of Prince Edward Island and PEI Potato Board, the industry will maintain its reputation for high quality product via enhanced emphasis on the highest standards of biosecurity,” added Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Alan McIsaac.

Published in News
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