Research
Late blight disease, caused by the pathogen Phytophthora infestans, continues to be one of the most serious disease concerns for potato growers. Over the past few years, new genotypes of P. infestans have emerged creating new management challenges for commercial potato growers.
Published in Diseases
Researchers are investigating the use of digital sensor technology and machine learning for precision management applications and integrated pest management programs for potato growers. Combining digital cameras and computer algorithms to train sensors to identify crops and crop pests can help improve application efficiency, economics and environmental sustainability.
Published in Technology
Creative solutions are needed in the battle against bacterial diseases in potato. In people, most bacterial diseases are treated with antibiotics, but due to the rise in resistant bacterial strains, that option, apart from a few exceptions, is off the table for field-scale agriculture.
Published in Diseases
Variable-rate applications of crop inputs can offer significant benefits for the crop, the environment and the grower’s bottom line. So Aitazaz Farooque is leading a research program that is tackling the challenge of developing practical systems that accurately determine what inputs to apply, how much to apply and where to apply them for potato production in the Maritimes.
Published in Weed Control
Zebra chip is a serious disease that can kill potato plants, significantly reduce yields, and make infected tubers unmarketable. It was first documented in Mexico in 1994 and in Texas in 2000. Since then, it has spread northward through much of the Western United States, as well as to Central America and New Zealand.
Published in Diseases
A biopesticide for managing common scab would be an exciting advance for two key reasons, explains Dr. Martin Filion with the Université de Moncton.
Published in Diseases
2018 saw fewer problems with wireworm in Atlantic Canadian potato fields than past years, according to Christine Noronha, a research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Prince Edward Island. But this doesn’t mean the problem has gone away.
Published in Diseases
For potato growers, one of the most concerning and costly diseases is late blight, caused by the pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Estimated to cost almost $10 billion per year worldwide, late blight spreads by spores and can spread quickly in a field. Post-harvest losses can be substantial if infected tubers are harvested and stockpiled. Like other disease pathogens, new strains and novel genotypes of P. infestans have emerged over the past few years, creating new challenges for commercial potato growers.
Published in Diseases
Eugenia Banks, Ontario potato specialist, attended a BASF meeting discussing several pesticides for potatoes will be coming through the pipeline for producers.
Published in Chemicals
When you think of China, do you think of potatoes? Maybe not, but in the Loess Plateau region of northwestern China, potato is the main food crop.
Published in Soil
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
A research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in P.E.I. is looking for natural ways to deal with click beetles and wireworms that cause damage to potatoes. 
Published in Crop Protection
Eight spore traps have been set up in potato fields across Ontario to help detect spores of late blight, according to Eugenia Banks' latest potato update.

Two spore traps are located in the Shelburne-Melancthon areas at D & C Vander Zaag Farms Ltd. and two others in the Alliston area at Mark and Shawn Murphy Farms. In the Delhi area, two spore traps are set up at Joe Lach's Farm and Fancy Pak Brand Inc. The final two spore traps are located in the Leamington area at Harry Bradley and Sons Farm. 

Alliance Agri-Turf, Bayer CropScience, FS Partners, Holmes Agro and Syngenta provided funding for the 2018 late blight spore trap project. 

A&L Laboratories in London, Ont. will conduct the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to identify the presence of late blight spores.

The results will be shared with growers and positive PCR tests indicate the presence of spores. Early detection helps alert growers to add late blight-specific fungicides into their mix.

In the past two years, Eugenia Banks, a former potato specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affaris (OMAFRA), led a project evaluating passive spore trapping technology to help growers improve late blight management. The project recorded positive results. Spores were detected 15 days on average before late blight lesions were seen in a few fields. A previous Potatoes in Canada article goes indepth into the project and how effective spore traps are for preventing late blight

“Spore traps represent another tool to be added to the potato growers’ arsenal to combat late blight,” Banks says. “If late blight spores are not detected by the traps, growers should still follow a preventative fungicide program and apply a fungicide spray before rows close. Also, fields should be scouted regularly.”
Published in Crop Protection
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
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
Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Fredericton Research and Development Centre have developed two potato varieties resistant to the Colorado potato beetle, writes Atlantic Farm Focus. | READ MORE
Published in Traits and Genetics
EU-funded scientists have discovered genetic markers that could allow potatoes to be selected for their ability to be stored at low temperatures, keeping them fresh and avoiding the use of anti-sprouting chemicals.
Published in Research
Chemicals in the leaves of potato plants, produced naturally by the plant, may hold the key to a new way in controlling Colorado potato beetles. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist, Helen Tai (pictured here) has turned to the leaves growing on wild potato relatives – leaves that Colorado potato beetles won’t eat – as a new approach to keep the pest away.
Published in News
The Government of Canada is investing in science and innovation to help meet increasing global food demand, grow exports for Canadian farmers and producers, and create good paying jobs that help grow Canada's middle-class.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, recently joined newly hired researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Harrington Research Farm to announce the completion of a $6.8-million upgrade of the world-class facility.

The Government of Canada is commitment to discovery science and innovation, and to reaching its goal of growing agri-food exports to $75 billion by 2025.

The upgrades included $2.97 million for 10 new and renovated laboratories and the purchase of a $1.3-million nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer for the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre, and $2.54 million for an expansion of the Harrington Research Farm greenhouse. The spectrometer allows scientists to study farm soil at the molecular level, which will help farmers improve the soil health and productivity of their land.

Three of the five scientists hired by the research centre over the past 18 months occupy new positions that expand the facility's areas of research. The five specialists are a microbial ecologist, an agro-ecosystem modeler and data scientist, a weed specialist, an environmental chemist and a cereals and oilseeds biologist.

"Having farmed on P.E.I. and travelled around the world as Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I see how science and innovation opens markets and creates new opportunities for our farmers and ranchers. This government is committed to innovation through world-class science and to helping farmers have access to the most current tools and knowledge to continue to grow the best food in the world," said MacAulay.
Published in News
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