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Canada to invest millions into Potato Early Dying disease research

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, spoke to growers from across the country at the Canadian Horticultural Council‘s (CHC) annual meeting yesterday in Ottawa, and announced a federal investment of over $2.3 million to support the Council’s research into managing the Potato Early Dying (PED) disease. The horticulture sector contributed an additional $991,918 towards this research, for a total investment of over $3.3 million.

The purpose of the project is said to provide potato growers with the knowledge, tools and technologies they need to manage Potato Early Dying, which results in premature aging, limiting potato yield by as much as 50 per cent.

As part of the project, the Canadian Horticulture Council will survey potato fields to determine the levels of PED and evaluate the control of PED through growers’ cropping systems, best management practices and control products.

“Canadian horticulture growers face a competitive marketplace and increasing environmental changes,” Bibeau said. “Our Government believes in the strong role of science, and we are investing in cutting-edge tools and practices our growers need to develop sustainably. We are excited to team up with the Horticulture Council on this project which will help growers avoid the unwelcome burdens which come from this costly disease.”

Brian Gilroy, President Canadian Horticultural Council said “the CHC is thrilled about this additional funding, which reinforces our valued partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on its AgriScience Cluster Program, which now has a total value of over $20 million dollars.”

Gilroy said the funding for the Canadian Potato Early Dying Network project will act as an important support for the Canadian potato industry. “Altogether, AAFC’s Cluster program is helping to ensure Canadian farmers can continue to grow fruits and vegetables of the highest quality, while supporting the sector’s competitiveness in an ever-changing world.”

In her speech, Minister Bibeau expanded on her Government’s plan to support growers and help them grow their businesses. Beyond the significant investments into research and science, this includes helping farmers get the qualified workers they need in a more timely way. It also includes working with the provinces and territories to improve business risk management programs, and helping producers take full advantage of all the market opportunities that have resulted from the Government’s strong agenda for trade.

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Photo courtesy Spudsmart magazine.

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Additional information: Canadian potato specialist, Khalil Al-Mughrabi in an article published by Spudsmart magazine: “Potato early dying (PED) is also known as early die and early maturity wilt. This disease is endemic in many fields with a long history of potato production. There is increased pressure on Canadian processing potato production to increase productivity to remain competitive in regional and global markets. PED is a major yield-limiting factor in all major potato production areas of Canada. PED results in premature vine senescence and can limit potato tuber yield by as much as 50 per cent. The disease is primarily caused by the fungal pathogen Verticillium dahliae, but co-infection of potato by both V. dahliae and the root lesion nematode, Pratylenchus penetrans, can greatly increase the severity of the disease.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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