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Sharing the knowledge

Despite the blustery cold weather and challenging driving conditions, more than one


March 13, 2008
By Marg Land


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Despite the blustery cold weather
and challenging driving conditions, more than one hundred growers,
researchers and potato industry representatives gathered in Guelph,
Ont. this past March to talk scab – common potato scab that is.

Despite the blustery cold weather and challenging driving conditions, more than one hundred growers, researchers and potato industry representatives gathered in Guelph, Ont. this past March to talk scab – common potato scab that is.

Experts from around the world were in the audience and at the podium during the two-day conference. Canada, the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Scotland – representatives from many of the top potato producing nations were present to share their experiences and knowledge of this common potato disease, caused by the widely distributed soil organism Streptomyces spp. Possible control regimes ranging from managing soil pH and utilizing antagonistic organisms to planting brassica cover crops and selective potato breeding were debated and discussed.

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While the aim of the conference, organized by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs potato specialist Dr. Eugenia Banks and the Ontario Potato Board, was educating growers and researchers about potato scab, there was a second, underlying theme of sharing and networking – a refreshing idea considering the potato market has become a global one with crops in Britain and Australia affecting prices in Canada and the U.S.

In light of the cooperative effort made, plans are currently underway to extend the networking and information sharing opportunities of the conference to the cyber world. An effort is being made to establish a potato common scab web portal where growers, scientists, researchers, businesses and industry officials can share information and discuss the disease.

pam_fisher-award
Pam Fisher

“There should be no excuse to end the discussion after two days,” says Lukie Pieterse, content manager of Global Potato News. “Why not involve a greater group than those assembled (at the conference) and hold it in cyber space?”

He envisions the web portal providing a continuous flow of information to participants and featuring a discussion group and quarterly newsletter. Efforts are currently being made to find a sponsor to bankroll the project.

OBGA Award of Merit
On the subject of sharing knowledge …

It doesn’t happen every year; just on the occasions a member of the industry performs a job or service that needs and must be recognized. And 2007 marked such an occasion. The Ontario Berry Growers’ Association recently presented Pam Fisher, berry crops specialist, with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, with the organization’s Award of Merit. Fisher, a graduate of the University of Guelph, started with the ministry supporting apple production, followed by ginseng before moving to berry crops.

“She works tirelessly,” said OBGA president Lee Etherington of Buckhorn Berry Farm. “She’s well known in the industry and has made a positive impact. Pam’s an extremely hardworking person, putting a lot of time into the industry.”

Pam thanked the association for the recognition, adding, “It’s a real pleasure to be honoured. There’s a team effort with a lot of very good people behind me.”


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