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INTRODUCTION: These things I have learned

It always seems to happen with a once-a-year magazine: that 365-day retrospective on “What happened.”


April 28, 2010
By Ralph Pearce

It always seems to happen with a once-a-year magazine: that 365-day retrospective on “What happened.”

Last year at this time, I was looking back on a rather hectic first instalment as chief, cook and bottle washer of this cruise ship. Now, a year later, I am still looking back, thinking of the year’s sights seen and lessons learned. 

In 2009, I saw my first potato planting; I attended my first Potato Grower Day at the Elora Research Station (with plenty to see and a few laughs, too). Then there was that rather anxious open house event last August near Alliston, Ontario – the day that five or six tornadoes landed north of Toronto, and unknown to most of us then, sitting skittishly underneath the Big Top, some of those tornadoes were a lot closer than anyone would have thought.

Yet as each event, each deadline and each new story idea comes and goes, I find that each opportunity to learn is just as welcome, and I’m happy to say, just as fresh as the last.

In the past year, I have also seen a kind of territorial sense of pride among potato producers, breeders and industry stakeholders that I have not seen to the same extent in corn, soybeans, wheat or canola. It is one thing to acknowledge the Maritimes for its long-standing reputation for potato production and quality. But there are those in Ontario who want to see more research and breeding done on a local level. There is also research being done on irrigation in Manitoba and on green manures in Washington state.

It all shows me the true picture of potatoes: one crop, many varieties, and many different takes, stakes and loyalties.

Look back but look ahead, too
There is also the opportunity to look forward, to this year’s International Potato Technology Expo in Charlottetown, another planting season and more grower days. And I am hoping there is a trip this summer to Western Canada, where I can learn more about potato production there (among other crops).

This year’s edition of Potatoes in Canada has been another learning opportunity, compiling stories along the lines that I have mentioned already, plus some other very intriguing topics. We are also introducing our Machinery Manager feature to this edition, with a look at irrigation systems (and my thanks to Bruce Barker for his work on this). This feature has become very popular in our other editions of Top Crop Manager, and we hope you find this a valuable resource, as well.
 
It may sound like a broken record when I talk about the “opportunities to learn” but for me, that is one of my few constants (aside from deadlines and answering e-mails). As much as I absorb and commit to memory for future reference, there is always more: more to learn, more to digest, and more of an opportunity to share.

And therefore more to enjoy!


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