Cavendish Farms building $6M potato research facility on P.E.I.

Irving-owned Cavendish Farms announced late Friday afternoon it is putting up $6 million to create a new research and plant-breeding centre.

Will create 4 full-time and 12 seasonal jobs

Cavendish Farms officials say a new research and plant-breeding centre will be open in 2020. (Submitted by J.D. Irving Limited)

P.E.I. is getting a new potato research facility in New Annan. Irving-owned Cavendish Farms announced late Friday afternoon it is putting up $6 million to create a new research and plant-breeding centre.

"The intent of the facility is to work to address potatoes that are more resistant to some of those challenges that we are seeing in terms of warmer temperatures and drier growing conditions," said Mary Keith, vice-president of communications for J.D. Irving Limited.

Keith said the company is also hoping to cut down the amount of soil it uses.

Over the last two summers the growing season has been going through changes with hotter temperatures and less precipitation putting crops at risk, she said.

The new facility will feature a greenhouse allowing the company to do research year-round on things such as soil, evaluate climate and seasonal conditions and access potatoes with promising traits such as superior yield, Keith said.

Creating resistant potatoes

"The focus certainly is on using what are traditional natural methods, but to identify those potatoes that demonstrate the best tolerance and how can we ensure that we have more of those to assist local farmers to sustain an industry that is so important to P.E.I.," Keith said.

The Cavendish Farms Research Centre will open in 2020 and create four full-time and up to 12 seasonal jobs, Keith said.

"We're looking to have four people who will be working on potato science," she said.

Keith said Cavendish Farms is excited about the project.

"We're committed to the Island, it is the root of our potato operations."

Keith said the company works with a "great group of farmers," and local communities to sustain operations.

"Ensuring that we've got the best science that is also going to bring a good environmental benefit is a big focus and it is very important and very exciting."

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