Dr. Tracy Shinners-Carnelley
Quality is Key
By Jennifer McFee
Quality is key for Dr. Tracy Shinners-Carnelley, who works with vegetable growers to optimize production for Peak of the Market Ltd.
With a specialization in plant pathology, she is ideally suited for her position of research and quality enhancement director.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Shinners-Carnelley always knew she wanted to work in agriculture. While attending agricultural college, she got a taste of plant pathology during an introductory plant science course.
“I instantly fell in love with it. There was something amazing about suddenly having an awareness of this microscopic life that is out there,” she says. “For me, it was very exciting to look into a microscope and see these fungi and then put it all together in terms of how it fits in with crop production.”
She pursued her passion and completed a PhD in plant science with a specialty in plant pathology at the University of Alberta.
When she first started at Peak of the Market Ltd. in 2009, she mainly worked with Growers to overcome quality issues while also providing support with production.
Since then, her position has evolved to also incorporate research projects at a Winkler-based facility that opened last year.
“We’re looking at research in ways to optimize production practices in both fertility and in disease and pest management,” she says.
“Our focus is also on variety evaluation. Growers are always interested in knowing about the new varieties that have improvements over the current ones – maybe they have higher yield, they require less fertility, better quality or better taste.”
Not only does the research centre provide a hub for projects, it’s also an ideal venue to meet with Growers and other industry stakeholders.
“Everyone’s interested in research and innovation,” she says. “It’s a great way to come together to talk about our interests and how to work together on research and innovation for mutual benefit.”
She also spends plenty of time working from her home-based office in Carman, which provides a centralized location for visiting Growers in the fields all the way from Winkler to Portage la Prairie.
“I’ve definitely seen improvements over the time that I’ve been with Peak of the Market. I attribute that to the great group of Growers that we have as part of the Peak of the Market family,” says Shinners-Carnelley, who enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.
“It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to work with these Growers who are always willing to take on a challenge. I’m always learning something from them and I hope that they can learn something from me as well. It’s through our shared experience that we go forward together.”