The Canadian and Manitoban governments are investing more than $210,000 in a new vegetable research site near Winkler, focused on improving yields, developing new varieties and creating opportunities for potato, sweet potato and carrot growers. The joint announcement came from federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay and Manitoba agriculture minister Ralph Eichler on August 29.
Funding will be provided through Growing Innovation – Capacity Knowledge and Development to support research focused on:
• nutrient and pest management for potatoes;
• new varieties of sweet potato that are better suited for Manitoba’s shorter growing season; and
• variety evaluation and crop management techniques to improve quality and yield for carrots.
The research site will be operated by Peak of the Market, a grower-owned cooperative responsible for selling Manitoba’s fresh market potatoes and other vegetables. The company will contribute more than $477,000 toward this three-year research project.
“We appreciate working in partnership with government, which will allow us to continue to build the industry,” said Keith Kuhl, chair, Peak of the Market and president of Southern Potato. “New crops and varieties are a key component to ongoing success.”
Canadians are eating more sweet potatoes and demand has increased by 83 per cent over the last 10 years. Most are currently imported from the United States. Manitoba growers have found the growing season to be too short to successfully grow available varieties.
Manitoba farmers grow more than 9,000 acres of fresh market potatoes and 600 acres of carrots for Peak of the Market every year. The company and its growers employ more than 1,000 people in Manitoba.