by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Canada’s 2011 seed potato crop has passed a survey of potato cyst nematodes with flying colours.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released the results of its annual survey on Thursday. There was no sign of the pest, a microscopic worm which can negatively affect potato production, in any of the 44,000 soil samples taken from about 78 per cent of the country’s 2011 seed potato production area.
“We’re not really worried about it here in Ontario,” says Don Brubacher, Ontario Potato Growers’ general manager, of the pest, explaining the concern is mostly with seed potatoes destined for export to the United States.
The federal agriculture ministry’s website explains the survey is part of a Canadian Food Inspection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service joint potato cyst nematode certification protocol that has been in effect since 2007. The pest was confirmed in the St-Amable, Quebec potato growing area in 2006.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s 2009-2010 potato market information review, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are responsible for the majority of the country’s seed potato exports. The three provinces exported 75 per cent of the country’s seed potato exports between 2006 and 2010. In contrast, Ontario growers accounted for only 1.4 per cent of the country’s seed potato exports between August 2009 and July 2010.
A Statistics Canada November service bulletin indicates Canada’s 2011 potato crop was 92.6 million hundredweight, down four per cent from 2010 production, mostly because of decreased yields.
Brubacher says Ontario’s 38,000 acres dedicated to potatoes in 2011 yielded about 6.4 million hundredweight. “Yields were not good last year,” he says, but adds the quality was excellent. Growers in Ontario produced about 8 million hundredweight of potatoes in each of 2010 and 2009, he says. BF