Latest news stories from around the World

Droughts in Europe: Almost half of the EU and UK territory at risk

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre recently published the “Drought in Europe – July 2022” report, an assessment of Europe’s drought situation based on the European Drought Observatory. The analysis of the evolution and impact of the prolonged drought in the EU shows that a staggering portion of Europe is currently exposed to warning (44% of EU+UK) and alert (9% of EU+UK) drought levels.

Eagle Eye Produce celebrates trailblazing Idaho potato grower

In the latest edition of its Grower Spotlight feature, Eagle Eye Produce celebrates potato grower Reed Searle in Eastern Idaho. Eagle Eye says on its YouTube channel, “Reed is an integral part of our varietal potato program. When most potato farmers in Idaho were focused on russet potatoes, Reed saw an opportunity to do something different – he focused on growing red and yellow potatoes.

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France forms crisis unit to face ‘worst drought on record’

The French government activated a crisis unit to deal with the worst drought on record, and warned conditions could get worse, as Samy Adghirni reports for Bloomberg. “This drought is the worst ever recorded in our country,” the office of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Friday.

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In Memoriam: A tribute to Dr. Barbara H. Wells, Director General, International Potato Center

“The unexpected passing of Dr. Barbara Wells in February 2022 was a blow to everyone at CIP and across the CGIAR and our partner organizations,” writes Dr. Oscar Ortiz, interim Director General of CIP in this memoriam article, published in CIP’s Annual Report for 2021. “From the hallways of CIP headquarters in Lima, Peru to the field site of the most remote CIP and CGIAR science team, Barbara was liked and respected by all. Her presence will be greatly missed.”

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Offsetting produces UK’s first carbon-neutral potatoes

Morgan Scale is growing carbon-neutral potatoes in west Wales by using his cover crops and crop rotation to offset greenhouse gas emissions from his spuds and so produce for the UK’s first zero-carbon potato brand. His potatoes and those from five other Pembrokeshire growers are now available under the Root Zero brand throughout the UK.

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Tasmanian potato growers start ditching spuds after stalemate on price negotiations with Simplot

Potato processor Simplot Australia has refused to budge on its second price offer to Tasmanian farmers for their potato crop this season, according to a report by Fiona Breen and Tony Briscoe for ABC Rural news. Farmers say the extra $105 a tonne the company put forward three weeks ago is still not enough to cover the cost of growing their crop this season, estimated to be about $20,000 a hectare. Simplot said it collectively considered every cost its growers incurred.

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CIP’s Annual Report 2021 ‘From lab to field to scale’ now available online

The Lima-based International Potato Center’s (CIP) work to reduce hunger and malnutrition, boost farmer resilience, and catalyze income improvements generated benefits for men and women in more than 30 countries last year. To communicate some of those achievements and give people a sense of how CIP harnesses science to improve lives and livelihoods, the organization included varied examples in CIP’s Annual Report 2021: From lab to field to scale, which is now available online.

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PepsiCo India adds gourmet chips to Lay’s portfolio

Food and beverage company PepsiCo India has launched its premium potato chips brand Lay’s Gourmet in India to tap into the growing market for premium snacks in the country, according to a news story published by the website Mint. Consumers in India have been moving up to better, more premium products as affluent households grow in size. In the top metros too such households are driving demand for more niche food and beverage brands.

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Elea and Inka Crops testing Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) systems for Peruvian snacks

Inka Crops is specialised in the production and marketing of gourmet and alternative snacks of Peruvian origin. In 2019 Inka Crops and Elea started to cooperate, testing PEF applicability on plantain and vegetable chips, as well as Andean snacks, in Elea’s pilot testing facilities. The work has shown the potential to improve raw material slicing and product yield, reduce frying time and temperature, and enhance product texture and colour.

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Dewulf at Potato Demonstration Day: First international demo of the Enduro potato harvester

Every two years, several organisations from Wageningen join forces to organise the Potato Demonstration Day in Westmaas, the Netherlands. Dewulf, the full-liner in agricultural machines, will be in attendance on the 13th of August this year. Highlights will include the first international appearance of Dewulf’s latest flagship, the Enduro 4-row potato harvester. Several other Dewulf machines will also be on display.

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PCN Action Scotland to host open day at PCN trial site

PCN Action Scotland, a project funded by the Scottish Government are hosting an open day at a PCN trial site near Forfar, Angus on the 16th of August. The event is organised by SAC Consulting Solutions. Attendees will have the opportunity to see a demonstration of Globodera pallida resistant varieties, the difference between tolerance and intolerance to PCN and trap crops, and speak with people from the James Hutton Institute, SRUC and Scottish Agronomy about PCN trials and research.

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Urschel acquires JIFCO and announces expansion plans

Urschel Laboratories, Inc., a global leader in food cutting technology, officially acquired JIFCO Products, Inc. The business has been renamed Urschel South. All previous JIFCO employees are now Urschel employees. JIFCO specializes in CNC machining services to produce top quality, American-made parts. The company is one of the few precision machine shops in the manufacturing prototype industry.

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Sterman Masser announces addition to family of companies in commitment to sustainable farming, growing better potatoes

Sterman Masser, a partner member of Fresh Solutions Network, announced the formation of the Lykens Valley Grain Company through an acquisition by Sterman Masser Potato Farms from Perdue Agribusiness. The acquisition helped to preserve jobs in the local community, continue to be a place for the valleys’ local farmers to sell and store their wheat, corn, and beans, and will eventually enable us to expand our potato packing operations in Sacramento,” says President, Dave Masser.

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‘That’s farming’: British potato farmer paralysed after accident in potato store

Tim Papworth is a third-generation British potato farmer and farm accident survivor who “learnt safety by accident”. Some years ago, he was changing a light bulb in a potato store when he slipped, fell and sustained life-changing injuries, which have impacted him mentally and physically. Tim had a titanium plate fitted on one side of his skull, but fortunately made a full recovery apart from impaired hearing in his left ear.

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Canada: Another potato wart case on P.E.I. doesn’t change situation, ban on seed exports causes undue harm to farmers’ livelihoods

Despite the discovery of potato wart in another Prince Edward Island field, farmers and industry members say the situation hasn’t changed; the ongoing ban on seed potato exports is causing undue harm to farmers’ livelihoods and doing unnecessary damage to the industry. Potato wart is harmless to humans, but deforms potatoes and reduces yields.

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Inflation heats up: Checking in with ag economics experts

With record-breaking inflation numbers coming out of the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the National Potato Council’s Eye on Potatoes podcast checked in with University of Idaho Assistant Professors Pat Hatzenbuehler and Liang “Jimmy” Lu for an update on the economic environment, supply chain issues, and geopolitical challenges increasing production costs for members of the potato supply chain.

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Dutch potato wholesaler Greydanus takes steps to make its washing process more automated and sustainable

Ten years ago, Greydanus invested in a complete water purifying system for washing potatoes using purified water. As a result, this Dutch potato wholesaler uses much less water. And just as importantly, the potatoes’ quality and storability have improved considerably. The current system still works perfectly well and is entirely up-to-date, thanks to the latest technology provided by VAM WaterTech.

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How can we improve soil health in potato cropping systems?

Minimizing soil disturbance is one of the key tenets promoted to build soil health in agricultural systems. Many farmers across the country have adopted reduced and no-till systems to build soil carbon, a central component to healthy soils. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 1st Soils Matter blog explores options to improve soil health for crops that grow underground – like potatoes.

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Idaho farmers plant 25,000 fewer potato acres in 2022

Idaho farmers planted 25,000, fewer potato acres this year, an 8 percent decrease compared with 2021. Idaho farmers planted an estimated 290,000 acres of potatoes in 2022, down from 315,000 in 2021, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Many people expected spud acres in Idaho to be down this year but the 25,000-acre decrease came as a surprise to a lot of people.

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Maine’s foremost potato expert is bringing his expertise around the world

Potato farmers depend on Steve Johnson. At least they did for 34 years. Now Johnson, who retired on June 30, is taking his expertise to other parts of the world. He has harvested 33 consecutive crops of research potatoes, and pioneered an “electronic potato” that became the industry standard for calibrating harvesters to reduce bruising the crop in the field. He also has shared his expertise throughout Maine and across the world, in places like Australia, Guatemala and Macedonia.

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Potatoes in Practice 2022: An unmissable date in the potato calendar

Potatoes in Practice, the UK’s largest field event for potatoes and a highlight of the season, brings the sector together to view variety demonstrations, learn about current and new research while viewing trade exhibits in one place. PIP is set to return to Balruddery Farm (Angus, Dundee DD2 5LJ) on Thursday 11th August 2022, when it will focus on new research and current challenges, with the support of event partners James Hutton Institute, Agrii UK, SRUC and Potato Review.

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Idaho potato crop catching up after cold start

Idaho’s potato crop has caught up well after wet, cold weather during planting and emergence seasons delayed its start. As Brad Carlson reports for Capital Press, Declo-area grower Mark Darrington liked what he saw during recent test digs: tubers, in contrast to the “big crop of vines” of one variety that produced poorly in last year’s drought and early, prolonged high heat.

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UK: Driest growing season in more than 40 years causes ‘disastrous’ potato harvest in Spalding

A Spalding farmer in the UK has told how his potato crop has grown at half the normal size and number as a result of the driest growing season in more than 40 years. As David Bosworth reports for The Lincolnite, the East of England provides vegetables for the nation, but Andrew Branton says this year’s harvest is nothing less than a disaster. “There’s just no way that crops in the UK can cope with the climate we’ve had this year – lack of water, intense temperatures – you just can’t reverse this process.”

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GRIMME unveils six new machines at Farm Days event

Last month more than 2,700 farmers and growers from across Europe attended GRIMME’s first ever Farm Days event, with six machines taking centre stage at the GRIMME farm in Cappeln Germany. Over four days (21 – 24 June), GRIMME put the spotlight on a new VARITRON 470 self-propelled harvester, the EVO 280 ALL CROP two-row bunker harvester, the SELECT 200 two-row elevator harvester, the PRIOS 440 4-row cup planter and two REXOR self-propelled beet harvesters.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor & Publisher

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