Pearce: Tests negative, weather positive for late blight in Ont. potatoes

Aside from concerns regarding drier conditions in different potato-growing regions of Ontario, some growers are testing for late blight. Spore traps near Delhi came back negative recently — but did indicate an increase at the end of the experiment.

Eugenia Banks, a consultant for the Ontario Potato Board, stated such a “signal” might indicate an increase in the population of the fungus that causes late blight, even though it’s under the detection limit.

“A spray is recommended for the Simcoe-Delhi area where early planted fields are flowering or are close to flowering,” Banks said in a brief summary from Friday.

Late blight test results from the Shelburne and Alliston areas were negative at the start and finish of last week, she added, noting early spraying against late blight always pays off.

In the Alliston region, many fields are expected to be at row closure within the next few days. At the same time, prior to last Friday, there’d been sufficient rainfall to create conditions that are perfect for late blight. Added to that, this past weekend saw several storm cells in the area, with more-than-enough rainfall in both the Alliston fields and those in the Shelburne area.

The heavier rainfall around Shelburne should help those fields that were recently planted, Banks said. Simcoe-Delhi, on the other hand, missed out on the weekend rain events.

Other disease updates

There have been reports concerning blackleg — including a new strain — and brown spot in different regions.

According to Banks, blackleg was reported in an early-planted field of potatoes grown for the fresh market. Its spread can be reduced by copper hydroxide application.

The lack of precipitation in the Simcoe-Delhi region has also spurred the development of brown spot, a problem that emerges in dry weather conditions.

Of particular concern is the announcement of Dickeya, found in Wisconsin. Although it’s a new strain of blackleg, it exhibits typical symptoms, including wilted plants with black rotting stem bases. An application of copper can reduce the spread when wet weather is an ongoing issue.

New varieties

Banks also details her experiences with Spartan Chipper (from Michigan State University) and AAC Glossy (from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). She planted the varieties in plots on May 7 near Alliston.

Spartan Chipper emerged quickly, with vigorous plant growth and a maturity that’s slightly behind Dakota Pearl, which is already in flower. Spartan Chipper can be chipped right out of the field but may also be a candidate for lengthier storage.

Glossy is another fast-emerging plant and appears to be similar to Envol in terms of maturity. It’s marketed by La Patate Lac St. Jean with a cream-coloured flesh, and is grown for the fresh market.

— Ralph Pearce is a field editor for Country Guide at St. Marys, Ont. Follow him at @arpee_AG on Twitter.

brown spot
Do you know what’s in the sauce?” I asked the server. “Do you not like it?” he asked. I need to adjust my facial expression, I thought to myself. “Oh, I like it a lot. I’m just wondering what the ingredients are,” I responded with a smile. “I am not sure, but I will check with the chef,” he said. I was at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Crystal City, Va., at a national extension conference, having lunch with a colleague. I was enjoying crab cakes with a tasty green condiment. I pondered the flavours of my entree. A food and nutrition specialist always likes to know what she is eating, and the menu with the description was no longer in front of me. A couple of minutes later, our server returned with the chef following him. “He brought the chef!” I whispered to my companion. Now this was service at the highest level. Chef David explained the ingredients in the remoulade (pronounced “rey-muh-lahd”) sauce, which included mayonnaise, lemon juice, fresh chopped tarragon, curry powder and chopped capers. Capers, by the way, are flower buds that grow on the caper bush in the Mediterranean area, as well as Asia and Africa. Typically, these flavourful buds are sold pickled in jars in some grocery stores. He offered to email the recipe, and we supplied our email addresses gratefully. When I received his email, I chuckled. The kitchen staff thought I was a food critic. I thanked Chef David and explained that part of what I do is write a column about food, and I asked him if I could share the recipe. He graciously agreed. You may not have tried a similar French-inspired recipe, but trying some new foods is a worthy goal. If you tend to stay with the same flavours in your cooking and dining, set a goal to be a little adventuresome. Flavour is the No. 1 reason that people choose the foods that they do, although I hope they consider nutrition sometimes, too. You may find that having a smaller amount of a satisfying, flavourful food can lead to more moderate portion sizes. Be sure to slow down and savour each bite, too. According to a 2018 food trends article in Nutritional Outlook magazine, consumers are increasingly interested in exotic spices from around the world, along with flavourful herbs. Consumers also like familiar flavours with an upgraded new twist. For example, who had heard about sriracha a few years ago? Now it’s readily available. Foods with applewood or hickory smoke flavour are increasingly popular, too. Have you tried any new flavour profiles lately? Put your spices to use and consider growing some culinary herbs this summer. If you lack garden space, consider your windowsills. Several herbs, including basil, parsley, marjoram, chives, mint and rosemary, are well suited for growing in pots in a sunny window. Herbs add flavour and negligible, if any, calories and other nutritional value. Many people find they can cut down on the amount of salt and fat in their recipes when they add herbs. See the NDSU Extension publication Harvesting Herbs for Healthy Eating at to learn more. Hats off to Chef David, Executive Chef Paul and all for sharing the remoulade sauce recipe. If I were a food critic, I would compliment the entire kitchen staff on the high-quality, flavourful and unique food and comfortable ambience of the restaurant. I’d also compliment the servers for their attentive service throughout my stay. Lemon Tarragon Remoulade sauce 1/8 c. lemon juice, freshly squeezed 
1/8 c. sherry vinegar 
3 pinches curry powder 
3 c. mayonnaise 1/4 c. Dijon mustard 1/4 c. capers, drained and chopped 
1/8 c. tarragon, leaves chopped 
Kosher salt (to taste) Black pepper, freshly ground (to taste) Water, cold (as needed) Whisk the lemon juice and sherry vinegar with the curry powder to “bloom” the colour and flavour throughout the mixture. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes before the next step. Whisk in the curry and juice mix with the mayo and Dijon mustard until smooth and consistent. Gently fold in the capers and tarragon into the mayo/curry mixture. Season the remoulade with salt and pepper. Adjust the consistency to your desired preference with the cold water. Chef’s notes: This sauce can be made ahead of serving and kept up to three weeks in the refrigerator. This sauce is a modern twist on a classic sauce that was developed for seafood, but this sauce is very versatile as a spread for a deli sandwich, a dressing for a tuna salad (thin out more with water), or a sauce for roasted fish or even char-grilled chicken. It can stand alone and be enjoyed as a snack with crackers and some wine. Makes 3 1/2 cups or 14 1/4-cup servings. Each serving (without added salt) has 130 calories, 11 grams (g) fat, 0 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre and 460 milligrams sodium. (Compliments of the Hyatt Regency, 
Crystal City, Va.) [caption id="attachment_96378" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] These pickled capers pack a lot of flavour.[/caption]

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