Potato producers know all too well that controlling Mother Nature is as likely as reigning in a two year-old. In either case, you’re doomed before you start.

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At the same time, there are ways to optimize water use efficiency and minimize the damage from floods and droughts.

For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart assembled five industry experts to discuss the importance of water management to potato production, and how to deal with a shortage or excess of Mother Nature’s most precious commodity:

Mary LeMere, Manager-Agronomy Mid-West, McCain Foods.Eugenia Banks, Potato Specialist, Ontario Potato Board.Ted Harms, Soil and Water Specialist, Irrigation Management Section, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.Rodney Dingwell, Chair, Prince Edward Island Potato Board.Terence Hochstein – Executive Director, Potato Growers of Alberta.

JUST ADD WATER

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Eugenia Banks, Potato Specialist, Ontario Potato Board

Banks also points out that since late blight outbreaks are common in wet weather, keeping the crop protected before that rain falls is essential for managing this disease.

In keeping with her pre-emptive approach, Banks says “you need to monitor fields to detect diseases, insects or physiological problems early on as they are all yield robbers. Last but not least, be aware of the status of the potato crop in your area/province through resources like weekly newsletters.”

Also a supporter of proactive measures, LeMere advocates staying informed and getting involved in local water regulation and policy groups.

“Understanding our water use policies and participating in those discussions is going to be more important than ever in the coming years. We’re proactive as an industry, but I don’t think that our policy makers and our public know that. We have to get involved and be aware of regulations that are coming up so we can be part of this conversation.”

Regardless of your challenges and choice of solutions, Dingwell believes attitude is everything.

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“As producers, we have to be eternal optimists or we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. You can’t turn the tap on or off for moisture, so you need to keep believing that things will be better next year.”

If you do that, maybe you can lose the odd battle with Mother Nature or that terrible toddler and still win the war.