News September 2021

U.S. potato sales strong in marketing year ‘unlike any other ever experienced’

The marketing year that ended in June 2021 was unlike any year the potato industry has ever experienced, says Potatoes USA in a news release issued today. “With pandemic restrictions ebbing and flowing from June 2020 to July 2021, sales at foodservice fluctuated while retail purchases remained extremely strong throughout the year,” the industry body says.

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Deprez’ Maestro XL+S: A unique mobile machine for handling large potato bins

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%. 

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One in 100,000: Breeders in Rhinelander seek the next commercial potato variety

Last Thursday, Jeffrey Endelman stood in a windy field east of Rhinelander and fished a diagram out of his fanny pack. “I’m continuing my selections in family number 91, at the moment, as I round the corner,” he explained to Ben Meyer of WXPR. Endelman was inspecting some of the 170 tillable acres at UW-Madison’s Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station. Over the decades, UW-Madison’s program has become one of the premier potato breeding programs in the country.

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GRIMME UK promising a British Potato Show to remember

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.

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HZPC’s new online potato calculator offers potato specialists tailor-made variety choices

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.

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Potato markets buoyant in Ireland, European yields ‘average at best’

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.

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RNA-based biopesticide technology delivers 98% mortality of Colorado potato beetle

Renaissance BioScience Corp., a leading global bioengineering company, is pleased to announce that an independent test of its environmentally safe, RNA-based biopesticide technology conducted on Colorado potato beetle (CPB) larvae resulted in 98.3% mortality and greatly reduced the amount of plant damage caused by the beetle. The proof-of-concept test applied Renaissance’s proprietary yeast-based RNA interference technology.

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Analysis: Importance of science and technology in modern farming

Scientific discoveries and technological novelties greatly assist agribusiness, making it faster, more accurate, cost-effective, and efficient. At the disposal of present-day farmers, there are eco-friendly techniques, smart machinery and robots, resilient planting materials, and advanced sensors. While scientific and technological advancements improve current farming practices, agricultural challenges nurture scientists’ zest for yet more beneficial contributions in the future.

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Specialist shares views on cover crops, soil health and fertility

On this episode of the SpudChat podcast, Ryan Barrett, Research Coordinator and Project Lead, Agronomy Initiative at the Board talks to Dr. Judith Nyiraneza with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada in Charlottetown about some of her research projects, including cover cropping, building soil health and fertility through rotation crops, measuring the effect of manure in potato rotations, and more.

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AsiaBlight Network takes its expertise to the field

In response to the late blight disease of potatoes, the AsiaBlight Network formed a coalition of farmers, scientists, and government officials to develop an integrated approach to managing, and eventually eradicating, late blight disease with an aim to improve nutrition and food security for billions throughout Asia.

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‘No British soil for European potato seed’

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.

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McCain to modernize French processing plant

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.

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Lifetime subscription to Potato News Today

Dear folks, as some of you might have noticed, a good deal of the 9,000+ news stories published on Potato News Today are restricted and accessible to subscribers only. I apologize for this, but most of you might realize that it is at the best of times a challenge to effectively maintain a website like this as a financially viable enterprise. We now offer new subscribers a special deal – a one time payment of only US$39 will provide you with a lifetime subscription to the site.

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Drought results in smaller Red River Valley potato crop, but rains help with harvest

As Red River Valley dryland potato farmers expected, the 2021 drought reduced their crop’s yields. The dry conditions lowered the Red River Valley dryland potato crop yields, which mostly are fresh and seed varieties, from 20% to 25%, estimated Ted Kreis, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association marketing director. Ann Bailey reports in this news story for AgWeek.

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Farther Farms developed technology to keep precut fries shelf-stable without freezing or refrigeration

Packaged food startup Farther Farms, backed with $10 million in capital from the National Science Foundation, has created a new food preservation process that it hopes could make the cold chain moot for traditionally frozen or refrigerated packaged food products. The company’s first product, a precut, ready-to-fry French fry, which uses a CO2 food pasteurization technology to keep the fry shelf-stable for months without requiring a freezer or refrigerator.

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Irish govt wants to help potato growers get their produce into chip shops

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.”

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McCain and The Simple Root use potatoes to create alternatives for dairy based foods

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.

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Key Technology and Exeter Engineering team up to introduce OCULUS digital sorters for potatoes to North America

Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, and Exeter Engineering announce the formation of a sales and service partnership in North America. Under the terms of the agreement, Exeter is appointed the exclusive agent to sell and service Key’s OCULUS digital sorters for fresh market potatoes in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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Side Delights steps up to the plate as potato sales rise and consumers choose in-home dining

Side Delights shared industry data showing that retail sales of fresh potatoes alone totaled $3.1 billion for the past year (July 2020-June 2021). “While many shoppers are returning to their busy schedules, many are leaning into the convenience of quick-to-cook products like our Side Delights® Steamables and Bakeables so they can prepare meals easily and cost-effectively in the comfort of their own home,” noted Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network.

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Frozen French fry production in China expected to increase by 20 percent

According to a recent report issued by the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), China’s MY2021/22 frozen French fries production is forecast higher by 20 percent at 420,000 metric tons (MT). According to industry sources, a new french fry production line will be put into production in MY2021/22 in Inner Mongolia. Frozen French fry producers in China are expected to expand their production as much as possible to make up for the reduction of imports.

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Scottish potato grower replaces Bauer irrigation reel after 25 years’ reliable service

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.

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Monitoring project proves successful for potato tuber moth management in South Africa

Potato tuber moth can be a potato producer’s nightmare. InteliGro in South Africa devised an effective monitoring system not only help to control this pest successfully, but allows producers to manage risks and reduce input costs over time. The project has since gained tremendous momentum and is currently an integral part of the service and decision-making support InteliGro offers in South Africa’s Sandveld potato-production region.

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XAG demonstrates potential of fully autonomous drones for potato farmers

Flying into the Andes mountains of Ecuador, XAG Agricultural Drones are recently introduced to a series of on-farm spray trials for high-altitude specialty crops. The demonstrations on potato fields have presented the high potential of fully autonomous drones in reducing labour cost and agricultural pesticide exposure. The agile agricultural drone would be a powerful tool to promote sustainable farming in Ecuador’s 3.2 million hectares of cultivable soil.

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MSU researchers breeding beetle-resistant potato varieties

Potato farmers face many challenges. One tiny, yet devastating, pest is the Colorado potato beetle. It can cause immense damage to potato crops. It’s also notorious for becoming resistant to chemical insecticides. In a new study, published in Crop Science, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) describe genetic tools to develop potato varieties with improved natural resistance to the potato bug.

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‘Nuru’: An AI-powered phone app for African farmers expanded to include potato diseases

Because potato growers need to identify and manage diseases in their fields, the AI-powered mobile app PlantVillage Nuru has been expanded to include them also. More than two million farmers in East Africa who depend on potatoes will be able to point their smartphones at a plant and receive an instant disease diagnosis through the app. It has been expanded to include potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and early blight (Alternaria solani).

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