Top five stories of 2014
As we get ready to ring in the New Year, Potatoes in Canada is counting down the top stories of 2014.
By Brandi Cowen
Here’s what you’ve been reading about over the past year:
5. Hitting a moving target
Any Canadian potato farmer knows well the half dozen major viral diseases that can damage their potato crops. The PVY group is one of the most destructive.
4. Young Canadian agriculture student awarded scholarship
4-H Canada has announced Bridget Wilson as the recipient of the 2014 AgriVenture Global Scholarship program. Wilson, a fourth-year university student pursuing an agriculture degree in Animal Science, Genetics and Molecular Biology, will take part in a six-month program to rural New Zealand.
3. Alberta’s aeroponic potato project
It’s a first in Canada: the evaluation of a commercial aeroponic production system for seed potatoes. The technology is called Vital Farms Potato Incubator PIP-200, an aeroponic seed potato production system from NorthBright Technologies designed to optimize the yield and quality of seed potato mini-tubers.
2. Tillage radishes
Like other cover crops, tillage radishes can offer many important benefits, especially to soil health. However, how this crop is used is critical to maximizing the benefits it can potentially provide to potato farmers.
1. Breeding out glycoalkaloids
Depending on the variety, environmental conditions and handling practices, potatoes may contain high levels of toxic and bitter substances called steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs). SGAs are naturally produced in both foliage and tubers (in the green parts of the potato) as a defence against animals, insects and fungi attack. The common glycoalkaloids found in potato plants are solanine and chaconine, with solanine being the more toxic of the two. The production of solanine in potatoes is thought to provide protection from the Colorado potato beetle, potato leafhopper and wireworms.