Agronomy Update – Oct 21

Hi everyone,

I hope that harvest is progressing well for everyone.  I’ve talked with quite a few growers who are finished digging, and many more that should finish this week if the weather cooperates.  From all accounts, folks are digging a tremendous crop.

Morgan and I finished digging our final trial field yesterday morning.  We saved the best for last, as this field gave us what I think is our largest ever yield strip in a grower field trial – 93 lbs in 20 ft.  Using a conservative multiplication factor 12, that equates to 558 cwt/acre.  A far cry from many of the strips we harvested over the last couple of years.

From the 39 trial fields that I have rough in-field weights on (not yet graded), our average year across all varieties and all treatments is 336 cwt/acre.  Keeping in mind that many of our trials are in what I would describe as “challenged” fields…this is impressive.  I’ll have more for you on some of our individual trial results after we’ve finished with grading and data analysis.

I want to send a quick thank you to all of those that helped us with trial harvest this year, including:

  • Staff from the PEI Department of Agriculture & Land
  • PEI Potato Board staff
  • Genesis Crop Systems
  • Staff with the Kensington North Watershed Assoc, Souris & Area Wildlife, and Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Assoc. (helping with Living Labs trials)
  • Staff with the East Prince Agri-Environment Assoc.
  • AAFC researchers and technicians
  • Staff with Wallace Properties

As you can see, there are a lot of people involved in ensuring that our many trials get harvested on time and then stored properly before heading off to grading.  A pre-emptive thanks to the folks at Cavendish Farms who will be working with us to get these samples through Central Grading before too long.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to the many growers that host field trials with us.  25 different farms hosted 42 completed trials this year…without your willingness and interest in hosting trials, we would not have an AIM program.  We still have a bunch of soil sampling and other data collection to do this fall, particularly in our cover cropping and Early Dying projects.

A couple of quick notes:

  • I am 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.
  • One of my immediate tasks will be to consult with growers and industry partners on what your priorities for research are.  The Canadian Potato Council is updating its National Research Priorities document in advance of the next National Potato Cluster, and we want to make sure that the needs of PEI potato producers are captured and communicated.  Stay tuned for more on this in the near future, but if you want any comments that you want to pass along regarding research priorities, particularly topics that you don’t think are currently being addressed, please feel free to drop me a note or give me a quick call or text.  The timeframe for this consultation is unfortunately short this time around, but we’ll do our best to make sure that the priorities of Island growers and dealers are included.

As we get to the tail end of harvest, please make sure to look after yourselves and your staff.  That means balancing the longer days with enough recuperation time to keep everyone happy and healthy.  There is no better way to celebrate a great crop than with everyone coming through harvest healthy!

Talk soon