A Belgian project is gaining insight in potato crop development and quality during extreme weather conditions. An agricultural side experiment of the project, coordinated by Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) Remote Sensing, investigates the impact of extreme weather on the cultivation of potatoes. Some 500 smart sensors were installed in 295 potato fields across Flanders.
Europe, UK, Ireland
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its weekly potato report that trade remains buoyant in Ireland as we approach the October bank holiday weekend. Across Europe increased input costs faced by growers influence trade. Shipping is proving ‘a nightmare’.
The potato sector has the ability to significantly contribute to a sustainable food supply worldwide. HZPC will therefore broadcast an inspiring programme on 3 November during Potato Days 2021 Live, with themes like hybrid breeding, the transformation of food systems and the Netherlands as breeding ground for seed potatoes.
An organic vegetable farmer from Shropshire has made efficiency savings of more than 25% while almost doubling the land he manages for potatoes thanks to a new app. As FarmingUK reports, Nick Taylor, who farms at Home Farm, has been instrumental in developing Crop4Sight, and is now using the platform to realise ‘massive efficiencies’ in his business.
The Irish Farmers Association reports that retail demand has eased slightly, although colder weather forecasted should improve trade again in Ireland. The food service sector continues to prosper, despite it traditionally being a quieter period. Prices for the fresh sector in Europe are currently described as holding or slightly easier. Export demand is very quiet.
An orange oil product that prevents sprouting in stored potatoes will be available for winter storage to help fill the gap left by the banning of the once widely used chlorpropham (CIPC). The new product, called Argos, comes from agrochemicals group UPL and is made from a natural substance, d-limonene (terpene), which is extracted from orange peel.
Waitrose & Partners is set to be the first major retailer to sign up to The UK Robust Potato Pledge, which will see the group move away from the use of copper-based fungicides on organic fresh potatoes in order to combat late blight. According to a report by European Supermarket Magazine, the group aims to achieve this by growing and selling only resistant or ‘robust’ organic fresh potatoes by 2026.
McCain Foods (GB) recently announced the appointment of James Young, who will be joining the UK senior leadership team as Agriculture Director. In his new role, he will take overall responsibility for McCain’s crucial raw material – potatoes. Young will also continue to develop McCain’s strong relationship with its 250 strong grower community and enhance the integration from field to factory, as well as leading the brand’s sustainable farming efforts.
Several key UK retailers have pledged to sell disease resistant organic potatoes, boosting sustainability and farm resilience for producers. Organic certification body the Soil Association developed its ‘UK Robust Potato Pledge 2021’ in a bid to help growers move away from potatoes that are susceptible to blight. Signees to the pledge have agreed to favour organic spuds that have been bred to be blight resistant.
Meadowfresh Foods in Tallow, Co. Waterford and O’Shea Farms/Iverk Produce, based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, have joined forces to become Ireland’s first dedicated fresh chipping potato packer and distributor. Over the past two years, they have engaged with Bord Bia, Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the Irish Farmers Association to support the chipping potato project. They have now proceeded to grow specific crops for the Irish chip shop channel.
Tong Engineering, a leading potato and vegetable handling equipment manufacturer, and sponsor of the BP2021 British Potato exhibition will be showcasing equipment advances from field to pack, as well as the latest technologies in automation and optical sorting, at the UK’s largest biannual potato event in November. Tong will discuss how the latest equipment developments can address the real challenges currently facing vegetable producers, by minimising labour requirements whilst maximising capacity and yield.
HZPC realised that the financial year 2020/2021 would be difficult. Last year, the potato distributor was operating in a global economic recession. With enormous consequences for both multiple corporate sectors and for HZPC. However, there are always positives. Even now. “We have seen a rise in volume sales, we are proud to have started the Connective Growers programme and we are delighted with the efforts made to realise a competitive price for our growers,” says HZPC CEO, Gerard Backx.
Bayer Crop Science in the UK posted an article on their blog earlier this week related to potato storage good practices. The article focuses on five main considerations for growers, saying that there is more to the long-term storage of potatoes than sprout suppressants. These considerations include store hygiene, box stacking, air movement, store intake and tuber diseases.
The home of the much-loved Pembrokeshire potato has added a new iconic product to supermarket shelves with the launch of the UK’s first carbon neutral potato. ‘Root Zero’ planet friendly potatoes are grown in Pembrokeshire by Puffin Produce. The spuds are certified carbon neutral and grown using sustainable farming practices to remove carbon dioxide, create healthy soil and increase local biodiversity.
A British manufacturer of packaging machines will celebrate 18 years of developing continuous motion machines at this year’s British Potato show. Gainsborough Industrial Controls (GIC) are a designer and manufacturer of vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) packaging machine solutions. GIC will be marking the anniversary of its continuous motion machines by displaying its latest GIC3100 model on its stand at the November British Potato show.
A recent paper in the journal Potato Research highlights the chlorpropham (CIPC) ban and the weaknesses and limited sustainability of global and local systems based on synthetically produced substances. But what are the current alternatives to CIPC? This article summarizes the findings of an Agroscope study of alternative sprout inhibitors.
With over 170 machines sold, Haith’s Rota-tip range is the potato industry’s most popular box tippler, and visitors to this year’s British Potato event will be the first to see the next generation of the class-leading machine. The Rota-tip PRO, which has had a patent application granted, will take centre stage on Haith’s stand on 24 and 25 November.
Potato storage in bins offer 100% traceability and are finding more and more advantages for various reasons, resulting in an increasing demand for 2 tonne bins, according to Kristof Vanderhaeghe, sales engineer at Belgium based equipment specialist company Deprez Handling Solutions. Kristof says that Deprez’ Maestro XL+S machine, with a capacity of up to 125 t/h handles potatoes exceptionally gentle and reduces the bin movements by up to 84%.
Visitors to this year’s British Potato Show are expected to make a b-line for GRIMME UK’s renowned hospitality (and to find out about the latest innovations in machinery!) As well as having members of its own sales team on-stand, the Gold sponsor will also be joined by sales engineers from Haith Group as part of the two companies strategic working agreement.
HZPC customers are the experts of their own environment. They know which circumstances they are dealing with and which potato characteristics are. HZPC developed an online tool with which customers can easily convert their knowledge and experience into tailor-made solutions – a digital calculator that finds the potato variety that gives the highest yield: the new Even Greener tool.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that markets and consumption in Ireland remain buoyant as consumers are back to work and school. Colder weather has also stabilised retail sales. Across Europe, first harvester liftings of maincrop indicate that yields are only going to be average at best and wastage levels are likely to be higher than normal, due to the adverse growing conditions this year.
The British ban on seed potatoes from the European Union is detrimental to the trade and cultivation in both Europe and the United Kingdom, writes David Stevenson in a news story for Talk Finance. A solution must be found, says Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Tom Bruijn. The ban on the marketing of seed potatoes is a political choice. It is the result of Brexit and not a technical issue, says Bruijn.
McCain Foods is set to modernize its Béthune plant in Pas-de-Calais, to produce new packaging more suited to mass distribution and to “strengthen its competitiveness”, thanks to an investment of EUR17m. “This investment in Béthune is the first in a series that will be deployed by McCain by 2026” to evolve towards “more modern and sustainable industrial production”, Erwin Pardon, president of McCain Europe, noted.
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland, Senator Pippa Hackett, has welcomed a new initiative which is aimed at helping Irish potato growers get their produce into Irish chip shops. The Minister said: “Growing chipping potatoes is a specialist operation, and the market for them is valued at approximately €20 million per year. I think the Irish consumer, given the choice, will really appreciate businesses that support local growers.”
The Simple Root, a new global plant-based brand backed by world leading FMCG McCain Foods, will launch in the UK later this year, harnessing the power of the potato to create delicious alternatives to dairy based foods. Launching in the UK with a global roll out across key markets to follow, the range includes versatile cooking sauces such as bechamel, truffle and cheese, and pesto, cream ‘cheeze,’ and a range of dips such as roasted garlic and herb and smoky chipotle.
One grower delighted with Reekie Ltd’s appointment as the Bauer irrigation equipment dealer for central Scotland is Lindsay Ashworth. He was keen to replace a Bauer irrigation reel bought in 1996 and wanted no other machine than another Bauer after 25 years’ reliable service. Although he anticipates the new irrigator being reliable, it is comforting to know that Reekie Ltd will be on the case if servicing, maintenance or parts are needed.