When you review the New Brunswick seed potato industry, you are also exploring an important part of New Brunswick’s history. The seed potato industry in New Brunswick is closely tied to the very beginning of European settlement in our province.
The earliest European settlers, led by Irish, Scottish, and French immigrants, used potatoes as an important dietary staple. Since that time, farmers have continued to develop New Brunswick seed potatoes, leading to today’s first quality product.
The seed potato industry in New Brunswick is quite different from other agricultural seed commodities. For example, grain seeds can be stored for years without any special temperature controls, but seed potatoes must be stored in a controlled environment. Without the special treatment, seed potato quality suffers greatly.
As the New Brunswick seed potato industry has developed, stringent phytosanitary (plant health) regulations and certification standards have been adopted. New Brunswick was a leader in establishing the Canadian seed potato certification system and remains at the forefront of potato research and development. This national seed potato certification system is managed by the CFIA and is recognized worldwide as a system which ensures high quality.
The New Brunswick Potato Disease Eradication Act is the foundation of our healthy seed potato industry. This Act, together with CFIA seed potato regulations, and the commitment of our growers, has resulted in New Brunswick’s reputation for seed potato excellence.
The seed potato industry in New Brunswick has a reputation throughout the world for quality and standards which are second to none. This is achieved through research initiatives and superior nuclear, field, harvest and storage practices. With over 15, 500 acres, or nearly 7, 000 hectares, dedicated to seed potato production, New Brunswick is Canada’s largest exporter of seed potatoes.
The potato farmers of New Brunswick, the processors, packers, shippers and the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BioAtlantech and other members of New Brunswick’s “potato industry cluster” work together to provide a world class product at every level.
For example, the NBDAFA operates a seed potato program which includes the Plant Propagation Centre, located in Fredericton. The Centre’s facilities include a modern tissue culture laboratory and four separate growth rooms, which produce over 300,000 potato plantlets annually.
The Bon Accord Elite Seed Potato Centre is another important part of the New Brunswick seed potato industry. Bon Accord is located in Victoria County, in an area well isolated from commercial potato production. The centre produces Nuclear Stock, Pre-elite and Elite classes of seed potatoes.
Many independent New Brunswick growers have also developed an “on farm” nuclear stock production industry of world class standards. On-farm facilities and material must meet the stringent requirements imposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
New Brunswick seed potato growers follow strict quality control guidelines. They perform inspections that combat pests and disease. Additionally, these inspections fulfill the criteria of the national seed potato certification system and assure customer satisfaction.
Their highly specialized efforts are supported by a grower-owned and operated laboratory, Agricultural Certification Services. This operation provides federally accredited BRR, Virus, Viroid and PSTVd analysis and virus-freeing to growers and buyers here in New Brunswick and across North America.
The Canadian Potato Variety Repository is housed at the Plant Propagation Centre, and it contains a collection of over 400 varieties. It provides a selection of commercial varieties and seedlings for use by the Canadian potato industry and a host of international clients.