Industry experts believe 2017 will be the year J.R. Simplot Company's genetically modified potatoes will begin being planted in Canada.
“Other than plot-sized production, there was no commercial production in Canada [in 2016] because of the timing,” says Kevin MacIsaac, general manager at the United Potato Growers of Canada. “But farmers are interested and planning to plant [in 2017].”
Doug Cole, Simplot’s U.S. spokesperson, says Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approvals came in the spring, too late for the company to make arrangements for seed and spring planting.
The four potato varieties—Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Atlantic and Snowden—are intended for the fresh and chipping sectors and come with some advantages Cole says.
"They have less bruising and there would be significantly higher pack-outs in Canada—more Grade 1 potatoes for use in the fresh market.”
Cole says Simplot hopes to work with Canadian grower co-operatives and processing companies in time for 2017 planting.