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2024 Ontario Potato Conference a resounding success: Innovations and strategies against late blight unveiled

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference & Trade Show, an annual event organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks, a renowned potato specialist at the Ontario Potato Board, concluded last week in Guelph, Ontario, marking a milestone in the ongoing fight against potato late blight.

The event, surpassing expectations in attendance, brought together industry experts, growers, and key stakeholders, solidifying its status as a pivotal gathering in the agricultural calendar. Karen Davidson, the editor of The Grower, lauded the conference, saying, “What an awesome conference today! Totally enjoyed all aspects.”

Late Blight Symposium

This sentiment was echoed by attendees who found the Late Blight Symposium, a highlight of the event, particularly informative and engaging.

The symposium, chaired by Shawn Brenn and led by esteemed speakers such as Gary Secor and Mark VanOostrum, delved into critical aspects of late blight management. With a clear message of urgency, experts warned, “There will be late blight in fields this year, so get ready!” They emphasized the need for proactive measures, including early and frequent spraying, weather vigilance, and field scouting.

Significantly, the fungicide Orondis (Syngenta) was recommended for its efficacy in reducing late blight risk, alongside the application of Orondis and/or Phos Acid in high-risk varieties and areas.

The symposium also highlighted the importance of good skin set, advising a re-assessment of fertility and harvest timelines, and the necessity of monitoring pulp temperatures during harvest to ensure tuber quality.

The event also shed light on the predominant late blight strain, US23, known for its aggressiveness on tomatoes, particularly concerning as heirloom varieties popular in home gardens lack resistance and may contribute to the spread of the disease. This point underscored late blight as a community issue, requiring collective efforts for effective prevention and control.

Dave Bell, a consultant from New Brunswick, presented promising results from the “Air Spore” system developed in Quebec, offering a glimpse into innovative approaches being explored in the region.

A collaborative effort

Victoria Stamper, General Manager of United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC)

The conference’s success was attributed to the collaborative effort of many, including Victoria Stamper, the General Manager of United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), who chaired the afternoon sessions. The event not only served as a platform for knowledge exchange but also highlighted the cohesive spirit of the potato growing community in their united stand against late blight.

As the conference concluded, the Ontario Potato Board and the agricultural community at large are more equipped than ever to tackle the challenges ahead, ensuring the health and prosperity of potato crops across Canada.

Source: Dr. Eugenia Banks, potato specialist, Ontario Potato Board

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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