US: Select potato growers in Maine trying soil fumigation for McCain Foods

A potato field in Wicklow, New Brunswick, across the border from Mars Hill, being fumigated with chloropicrin in the fall of the 2015, as part of a trial McCain Foods is conducting with its processing potato growers on both sides of the border.McCain Foods has started trials examining soil fumigation with several of its growers in Maine. More common in western states, fumigating soil to fight nematodes and soil-borne diseases is “not something we’ve done in Maine,” Erica Fitzpatrick-Peabody, an agronomist with McCain Foods, said during the Maine Potato Conference in Caribou in January. In an effort to boost yields with its contract growers of russet processing potatoes, McCain Foods has been conducting trials of fumigation on a small number of acres with farmers who have had yield problems with nematodes, verticillium wilt and other fungal soil pests. McCain has been conducting similar trials with its growers in Canada. The range of fungicides and insecticides farmers already apply to potatoes throughout the growing season “aren’t providing adequate control for soil-borne diseases,” Fitzpatrick-Peabody said. Growers could use fumigation selectively to target fields that have had soil-borne disease problems, according to Chad Hutchinson, director of research with the TriEst Ag Group, a company that specializes in fumigation and provided the chloropicrin to growers in the McCain trials. More