Agronomy Update – Oct 7th

Hi everyone,

Another beautiful day in PEI and great weather to dig potatoes.  It looks like we’ve collectively made a lot of progress for October 7th…I’d say half the crop might be out of the ground already.

In my conversations with growers, it sounds like both yield and quality is exceeding expectations.  There are some parts of fields where there are issues with rotten tubers, but the number of affected acres seems to be less than anticipated.  At the same time, many growers I’ve been talking to are taking the right precautions by leaving those suspect acres to the end, putting them at the front of the pile, or putting them in temporary storage.  All examples of responsible planning!

Morgan and I are chewing through the list of trials…we’re over half done now as well, with a big day planned for tomorrow.  Our average from more than 20 trial fields dug so far is over 325 cwt/acre, with 5 of those being seed fields.  Everything dug this week was between 320 and 400 cwt/acre.

One thing I should note…these great yields aren’t simply due to a year with rain.  Yes, that is a big part of it.  But it is also due to the many advancements in production that growers have been collectively making over the past few years.  Whether that be new varieties, improvements in fertility management, improvements in seed management and planting, improvements to soil health…they all add up.  Thankfully, the weather this year has allowed many growers to reap the rewards of their investments in improvement management.

A couple things to think about as we move into the home stretch for harvest:

  • Conditions are great for getting a cover crop established on a lot of harvested fields. Last year, you collectively planted covers on approximately 45% of potato acres after harvest…let’s beat that this year!  We’re still in the window for winter wheat planting at the moment, but not for much longer.  Starting later next week, fall rye will be the best option for the majority of acres.
  • Hearing some report of wireworm damage, particularly in some fields where wireworm was not previously a problem. Please let me know if you’re seeing some issues with wireworm or if you have any in-field evaluations of insecticides that you’d be willing to share.
  • I will be looking for 30 fields across the province that are destined to be planted to Russet Burbank or a variety with similar levels of susceptibility to Early Dying in 2022 for fall soil sampling after harvest. If you have a field or two that might fit the bill, please send me a note and I’ll start building my list.  You get a free Verticillium and nematode test done on that field (we share the results back to you) and then we select 8 fields to follow during the crop next year to help us benchmark Vert & nematode levels against yield and quality.

Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!