Top Crop Manager

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Supporting Alberta potato growers

Supplying technology and advice over 40 years.


March 11, 2008
By Donna Fleury

Topics

Growers Supply Limited, an independent agricultural retailer, has been supporting the Alberta potato and row crop industry for 43 years. Today they have two locations in southern Alberta at Taber and Vauxhall. “Along with a full-line of potato production and storage equipment, a dedicated parts and service department, we also have Certified Crop Advisers on staff with extensive knowledge on potatoes,” explains Peter Mitchell, manager. “We provide a full-line of agricultural crop protection products for the potato industry and other crops grown in southern Alberta, including beans, corn, peas and sugar beets.”

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Healthy potato crop growing in June weather. Photo Courtesy Of Scott Gillespie, Growers Supply Limited.

As a partner in the potato industry, Mitchell and his staff stay on top of the research, products and trends impacting the growers and other stakeholders. “The Alberta industry along with others across Canada, are feeling the constant pressure of the rising Canadian dollar and the challenges that brings with it,” says Mitchell. “A good portion of Alberta processed potato products are exported outside of Canada, which brings challenges for the growers who supply that market.”

According to the Potato Growers of Alberta, about 75 percent of the potatoes grown are for the processing market. All potatoes grown for processing whether French fries, chips, or other processed products, are grown under contract to the processor. It is the end-user of the product that dictates the processed potato specifications. Seed potatoes represent about 20 percent and table potatoes the remaining five percent. Alberta’s certified seed potatoes are in high demand because of the colder climate, which results in fewer disease and pest problems. Alberta growers are currently the biggest exporter of seed potatoes in Canada.

One of the benefits Growers Supply brings is an understanding of the crop input products they sell to growers, and the registration details in all countries their produce is being sold to. “Different countries have different requirements and accepted maximum residue limits, so we work with growers to make sure we have the most up-to-date information,” says Mitchell. “Our growers always have to be aware that the Alberta marketplace is competing with other areas of North America and around the world. They need to ensure they are supplying the best quality product to meet those needs and demands.”

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Potato harvest in full swing. Photo Courtesy Of Bill Browning, Growers Supply Limited.

The company has two full-time agronomists, who are also Certified Crop Advisers, working with growers on a regular basis. The agronomists work with growers on various issues including fertility, scouting fields for diseases, insects, weed control, along with the testing of new chemistry introductions to make sure it fits into the Alberta market and the registration requirements in other export countries. “Although we do limited research, we work closely with growers to produce quality potatoes, project their needs in the future, and to determine how we can help them meet those needs.”

Mitchell emphasizes that, “Growers Supply, working in conjunction with the potato growers of Alberta, is very committed to meeting and exceeding the challenges in today’s competitive marketplace by providing quality and value to the consumer in the North American and Asian marketplaces.” -end-