The 2023 Ontario Potato Conference will be hosted on Thursday, March 2 by the Ontario Potato Board in the Delta Hotel & Conference Center, Guelph. The topics to be addressed by speakers were selected from growers’ requests, according to the principal organizer of the Conference, Dr. Eugenia Banks. The final agenda can be viewed here.
“The symposium on cover crops will provide great information to enhance soil health, which is the foundation of farm sustainability,” Dr. Banks says. “Anne Verhallen, a well-known Soil Management Specialist with OMAFRA, will discuss the impact of cover-crop management strategies on soil health. Anne has had excellent reviews from growers for her presentations in the past.”
This conference provides the opportunity to meet Ryan Barrett, an expert on cover cropping in PEI. He will bring attendees up to date on the latest research results from the Island. Growers then need to figure out which approaches are worth implementing on their farms.
“Verticillium wilt causes significant crop losses when not managed effectively” Dr. Banks notes. “Zack Frederick, a research agronomist from Manitoba, has evaluated a sustainable management practice that reduces the incidence of Verticillium wilt with encouraging results. His presentation will be extremely important for growers.”
In Ontario, the occurrence of wireworms is erratic causing unexpected yield losses in fields with no history of wireworm damage, according to Dr. Banks. Ryan Barrett will update growers on the results obtained in PEI using buckwheat as a cover crop.
At the growers’ panel on cover crops, Anselm Lankhuijzen (Port Burwell), Charles Emre (Simcoe) and Kate VanderZaag (Alliston) will discuss how they have used cover crops on their farms, the problems that have arisen, the challenges they have addressed, and what they have learned. Shawn Brenn, the chair of the Ontario Potato Growers, will be the moderator.
Jeff Miller, from Miller Research (Idaho) will discuss the factors that impact seed tubers and how to prepare seed to get optimum emergence. “Jeff has many years of scientific and practical experience with potatoes,” Dr. Banks says. “He will give growers a lot of tips on how to get the best from seed.”
Dr. Banks points out that water is becoming a limiting resource. “Mark VanOostrum and Patrick Dol from W.D. Potato, Ltd. will provide an update on soil-moisture monitoring with state-of-the-art equipment,” she says. “This is an ongoing project, so it they will cover results and plans.”
Dr. Peter Vander Zaag, a potato scientist, grower and breeder, will discuss new options to produce minitubers of optimum quality for Ontario seed-potato growers. “This will take seed-potato production to the next level,” according to Dr. Banks.
Trade Show exhibitors will be pleased to discuss their new products and technologies with attendees. There will be enough time at lunch and during the afternoon coffee break to visit the exhibits, Dr. Banks points out.
A registration form is available on the Ontario Potato Board website here. A discounted fee applies if received by February 28.