The rich black soil of Central Alberta is an essential part of growing quality products. Soil samples are taken every year to ensure the correct amount of nutrients is applied especially when grown in a four-year rotation with the other crops being wheat, canola and barley and peas. To utilize every acre efficiently tile drainage has been put in on most of the land to reduce the amount of crop and nutrient loss.
Planting is done in May. Liquid phosphorus is applied close to the tuber when planting for optimum absorption. Hilling occurs right before emergence.
Right before emergence a herbicide is applied. Protectant fungicides are applied every 7-10 depending on conditions to prevent late blight and other diseases. When the tubers have reached the ideal size the vines are desiccated so the tubers skin can become mature to reduce skinning during harvest.
The harvest begins the first days of September when the nights cool off and the daytime temperatures are moderate. Using up-to-date technology and equipment ensure quality tubers without bruising and damage go into storage. Self-propelled harvester and an air-separator are a few examples.
Once the tubers are in storage they are immediately ventilated and after suberization they are cooled down to 38F. Starting in March the tubers are gradually warmed to 44F for shipping. In 2000 and 2002 the bulk storages were built with the capacity to hold 8000 tons and in 2012 and 2017 box storages were built with capacities to hold 3000 tons. All storages are automatically controlled with ventilation, humidification and temperature. The storages are well insulated for the cold winter months when the temperature can go below -25C.
Before the potatoes are shipped they are carefully graded to sort out any damaged, bruised and rotten potatoes. Once graded the potatoes are ready to be shipped either in bulk or in 1 ton tote bags. The potatoes are shipped into the United States such as Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Minnesota and North Dakota and in Canada to Southern Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and PEI.
Seed potato production starts in the greenhouse. Plantlets come from a local laboratory and are planted in fresh, natural peat moss with some added fertilizers. Once harvested the tubers are stored in their own cooler until planting time in the spring. The varieties are multiplied for several years until they have reached the generation to be sold either Elite II or Elite III for commercial growers.
GRAIN & OILSEEDS PRODUCTION
Wheat, canola, barley and peas are other commodities grown. From the soil samples fertilizer blends are made and most of the fertilizer applied is in the fall with a starter blend applied in the spring when seeding. All fields are scouted regularly for weeds and diseases. Herbicides are applied, and a second pass is only applied if needed. Fungicide is sprayed on all crops and growth regulator is applied to all wheat and tall varieties of barley. Wheat, barley and pea crops are desiccated, and canola is swathed so the crops can mature. These commodities are sold through contracts throughout the year to various places such as elevators, mills and local producers.