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Canada revamps its potato breeding program

It’s been a little over a year since Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) began revamping its potato breeding program.

In addition to making the program more efficient and up to date, the move reflects a strong desire by the AAFC to make the program more responsive to the needs of the Canadian potato industry, writes Mark Halsall in an article published in Spudsmart magazine. 

The changes are still ongoing, but many in the potato industry appear to like what they’ve seen so far in the new-look breeding program.

Virginia Dickison. Photo: AAFC via Spudsmart magazine

Virginia Dickison is an AAFC biologist who acts as operations manager and industry liaison officer for the program.

In November, she travelled to the Alberta Conference and Trade Show along with the program’s potato breeder, David de Koeyer, to address a special meeting of industry stakeholders about all the changes and the progress made so far, as well as different options for releasing new varieties going forward.

Tracy Shinners-Carnelley, vice-president of research and quality with Manitoba’s Peak of the Market, was among the industry representatives at the meeting.

“I think there’s been a really good uptake to the fact that Virginia Dickison and David de Koeyer have been actively doing outreach across the country with the potato industry this past year,” she says.

“There is tremendous opportunity going forward, and something that I find very refreshing is this increased opportunity that the industry has to engage with Ag Canada on the breeding program and really be heard in terms of priorities,” Shinners-Carnelley adds.

Read the full article titled “A change for the better” in Spudsmart magazine here
Photo on top of this page: Potato breeder David de Koeyer with a box of freshly dug potatoes at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s potato breeding sub-station in Benton Ridge, New Brunswick. AAFC photo, published by Spudsmart magazine.

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