Agronomy Update – Dec 11th

Happy Friday everyone,

We’re moving into mid-December and edging closer to the holidays.  We’re also getting into “meeting season,” although that’s going to look a lot different this year than in the past.

There are a lot of conferences and seminars moving online this year.  While that provides an opportunity to participate that we might not have in a normal year (not to mention the travel required), I know that people start to get videoconference/webinar burnout really quick.


Fall Cover Crops Workshop:

We had to move our December AIM Workshops online this week due to the “circuit breaker” restrictions imposed by the province.  Again, not ideal…but Morgan and I were still able to share some of our research results from the past couple of years with growers and AIM partners.

Video and information from this presentation are now available to view for anyone that wasn’t able to join us this week.

Video (YouTube)
PDF of Presentation
OMAFRA Factsheet:  BMPs of Winter Cover Crops

Some take home messages:

  • After our first year of trials (6 fields), we saw a +24 cwt/acre marketable yield benefit from the use of a cover crop ahead of potatoes compared with no cover crop.
  • Impact on soil health and fertility were less obvious over one year, but will continue to be monitored.
  • For cover crops following potato harvest, winter cereals are recommended for later harvested fields.  For early harvested fields (before Oct 5th), spring cereals (barley, oats) can be as good as winter cereals.
  • First year of trials looking at winter barley showed quick establishment and good % ground cover.  Will follow through to 2021 to look at survival and grain yield.
  • Over 3 years of trials (7 fields), fall hilling has produced an average yield increase of +18 cwt/acre and net increase in crop value of $230/acre.  This is in addition to some observed operational efficiencies associated with early tillage, crop crop establishment, and reduction of tillage passes where hills were made in the fall.

Certified Crop Advisors:  I forgot to mention in the meetings that 2.5 CEUs were available for those that participated in the online workshops.  Please email me with your CCA number and I’ll submit you for those credits.


January Workshops:  Weeds

Assuming that we’ll be able to hold in-person meetings again in January (fingers crossed), we are planning to hold workshops on January 12th and 13th, 2021 on the topic of weed control and managing herbicide resistance.  Our speaker with be Dr. Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill of AAFC Charlottetown.  Andrew is a weed scientist and has done quite a bit of work in the past few years on herbicide resistance as well as the most effective herbicide tank mixes for weed control in potatoes.  After the terrible weed year we had in 2020, this should be a timely topic!


Additional Extension Opportunities:

One of the conferences that might be worth your time:  the combined Ontario Ag Conference on Jan 6th and 7th.  Even if you can’t tune in those days, presentations will be available on-demand for 3 months after the conference for those that are registered.  More info at

Coming up on February 24th and 25th, 2021 will be the first Canada’s Spud Congress (SpudCon for short), organized by Spudsmart magazine.  Stay tuned for more details on their agenda and unique opportunities to connect.

For those that missed the two most recent Spudsmart webinars, they are available to view on-demand via their website:

Wireworm Research (featuring Dr. Christine Noronha)

SWAT Maps for site-specific field management (featuring Evan MacDonald)

Both featured on-farm research results from here in PEI.


Biosecurity Reminder:

A quick reminder of the biosecurity resources available to consult as you refresh you and your employees on the importance of strong cleaning and disinfection practices and traceability on your farm to prevent the spread of important diseases.

PEI Potato Board Videos on Biosecurity (YouTube)


CFIA Biosecurity Standards Document:

 A key consideration:  you should be having conversations with your seed suppliers to find out where in turn their seed comes from and if they have sourced seed from a farm that has had a history of BRR.  The #1 source of BRR infection is through infected seed.  Particularly if you are sourcing seed from outside of PEI, make sure you know the history of that seed and that you are confident that your seed supplier is following stringent biosecurity protocols.

Have a great weekend everyone,