The Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada is using its seed farm in Fox Island on the Island to get new varieties into grower fields quickly and safely. Seed potatoes start in the lab as plantlets grown from tissue culture. They spend the summer in a screen house, before being harvested in the fall.
“The priority is to keep everything clean at this stage so it’s grown in here in our screen house in an aphid-proof building,” said Mary Kay Sonier, seed co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Potato Board. “Aphids spread potato virus diseases so when we go to the field we’re starting with as clean as possible seed we can.”
“One of the things we’re working on now is new varieties and with the tissue-culture system, it allows us to bulk up new varieties very rapidly,” said Sonier. “If there’s a new variety for the processing industry or the fresh industry, and they want to get a lot of seed bulked up so they can get it into the marketplace, this process allows us to do that.”