Latest potato news from around the World

The AsiaBlight Network looks to the future

As in many potato-growing parts of the world, late blight disease stifles production and earnings. In China, the story is no different as smallholder potato farmers lose millions of tons of potato and hundreds of millions of dollars annually in potential income due to this pathogen‘s effects. To improve farming practices and technologies to overcome this challenge, the CIP-China Center for Asia Pacific (CCCAP) organized the 4th annual AsiaBlight meeting in Shandong last month.

The CEO of HZPC explains how he is making his company more sustainable

HZPC’s CEO, Gerard Backx says: “What we can contribute are new varieties that can help to improve environmental impact in the future. We try to develop different disease resistances to make sure that our potatoes can be grown without or with a very reduced amount of pesticides. Of course, yield is important too, because if you can produce more product on the same amount of land with the same amount of energy, then you are more sustainable.”

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Teaching tomorrow’s producers and consumers: Grow Your Own Potatoes Programme to continue in 2021

Now in its 16th year, the Grow Your Own Potatoes Programme (GYOP) is an AHDB educational initiative that helps children in Britain learn more about where their food comes from, how it grows and the role potatoes play in a healthy, balanced diet. Since it began, it has delivered positive messages about potatoes to more than five million primary school children nationwide. AHDB announced yesterday the programme will go ahead as planned in 2021 with the support of the potato industry.

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World Potato Congress webinar: Aeroponics for nuclear seed potato production in the spotlight

The World Potato Congress will present its next webinar on Thursday, February 18, 2021 with Dr. Peter VanderZaag, a potato farmer in Canada and, due to COVID-19, now an “armchair consultant” involved with numerous potato projects in Asia and Africa. Dr. VanderZaag’s presentation will be entitled: “Aeroponics for nuclear seed potato production: history, status, and challenges”. It will primarily focus on the development of the technology in China over the last 14 years. Dr. VanderZaag will share some of the major successes and failures of minituber tuber production with aeroponics.

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Boost in sales and profits for Scotland’s Albert Bartlett

One of Scotland’s best-known potato companies, Albert Bartlett, enjoyed a boost in sales and profits last year. Accounts for Albert Bartlett Holdings Limited, which runs the popular Albert Bartlett potato brand, reveal a 14% increase in turnover to £199.985 million for the year to May 31 2020. In his report, the company’s sole director Ronnie Bartlett said the trading performance had been satisfactory.

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Canada’s potato growers now have new chemical weapon against early blight

Previously registered in several vegetable crops, Syngenta’s Miravis Duo can now help potato growers safeguard quality and yield against early blight, in addition to several other costly diseases. Depending on their geography, potato growers can expect to make multiple in-season applications of a fungicide specifically targeting early blight, according to Syngenta. With every application of Miravis Duo, growers can also control brown spot while protecting against Botrytis and white mould.

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Novel research by Australian farmers to turn waste into biohydrogen fuel and fertiliser

Trials to turn waste from potato farms into fertiliser and energy are underway in regional Victoria in a bid to be environmentally friendly and lower the costs for farmers. Jane McNaughton and Steve Martin of ABC Ballarat reports on this research and development project based in Mollongghip, between Ballarat and Daylesford, that aims to convert agricultural waste, known as biomass, into hydrogen.

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The potato market: Understand your breakeven point

The potato market is notoriously volatile with huge yearly peaks and troughs. The volatile nature of potato pricing is, to some extent, related to the weather which is rather unpredictable. This is more so relevant in potatoes than most other UK crops because of the domestic nature of potato markets with very little global trade. This makes it hard to plan long-term profitability. So says Alex Cook, AHDB Analyst Potatoes & Cereals and Oilseeds, in this article.

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The new DOWNS CropVision: ‘A new generation optical grader for unwashed potatoes’

This past Tuesday, January 12, saw the launch of the new DOWNS CropVision – a machine that manufacturer Dubrulle DOWNS calls “the new generation optical grader for unwashed potatoes”. Dubrulle DOWNS is a manufacturer of handling and storage solutions for potatoes based in France. The DOWNS CropVision is fitted with the latest technological innovations that allows for high- speed and high-quality mechanical grading of unwashed potatoes before it enters storage – at a rate of up to 100 tons/h.

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Buoyant retail sales of US potatoes reported

Record potato retail sales continued from October to December 2020, the second quarter of Potatoes USA’s marketing year 2021. The industry body says in a press release that all three months saw an increase in both dollar and volume sales, with the largest growth in December. Total store potato sales grew 9.3% in volume and 12.3% in value. Prices also increased for consumers by 2.7%, which contributed to the 12.3% increase in dollar sales.

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GRIMME boosts planters with new features

GRIMME announces that several new features were added to its GL 420 and GL 430 four-row cup planters, as well as the GB 430 belt planter. These include single-row on/off switching; further protection against soil erosion with the new TerraProtect system; and an operator friendly planter-and-tractor coupling system.

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The future of crop protection? GM plant grows insect sex pheromones as alternative to crop pesticides

Scientists have discovered how to genetically modify the camelina plant to produce pheromone precursors that can control agricultural insect pests without the use of pesticides. Revolutionary research is being done by ISCA, Inc., a “green” agricultural technology company based in Riverside, Calif., in collaboration with Lund University in Sweden. ISCA says pheromone controls are the future of crop protection.

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The new potato range from Linwood Crops: Sold for ‘Purpose and Taste’

Due to how potato varieties can perform so differently at different times of the season, Linwood Crops in the UK says it does not sell its potato varieties by variety as such (unless requested), but rather by the ‘best available for purpose’, as well as for consistency – and ultimately taste on the day, and at whatever stage of the season, the company says. This Unique Selling Point (USP) puts Linwood’s Chef’s Taste brand in a class above any others and is receiving a fantastic amount of interest, according to Linwood.

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Processing potato producers in France to receive financial aid for losses due to COVID-19

The French Ministry of Agriculture this week announced that potato producers who had to allocate processing potatoes to outlets other than for the process sector due to the pandemic will financially be compensated for losses incurred. Producers have until February 2 to apply online. The news site Terres et Territoires reports that ‘good things come to those who wait for it’. After six months of waiting, potato producers will finally be compensated “for the losses resulting from diverting unprocessed potatoes to other outlets, in the context of the health crisis associated with the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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The British entrepreneur who ‘turned potatoes into gold – twice’

William Chase is not your average farmer. The Herefordshire-born 60-year-old has gone from bankruptcy to making millions by turning potatoes into crisps and vodka, and is now hoping to make a fortune from apples, reports Hannah Uttley in an exclusive article published by The Telegraph. Chase is now building his Willy’s Wellness brand, which produces gut health products such as apple cider vinegar and kombucha.

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EU Exit Perspectives: British seed potato sector needs rapid resolution

In this week’s blog, AHDB’s head of export trade development for potatoes, Patrick Hughes, examines the issues around gaining third country listed status for seed potatoes and what the industry might do if a resolution is not reached. The news that ware potatoes have been awarded third country listed status and trade into the EU and Northern Ireland will continue is welcome. Unfortunately, the EU also confirmed they will not accept the case for a permanent change to the prohibition on seed potatoes.

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PepsiCo doubles down on climate goal and pledges net-zero emissions by 2040

PepsiCo, Inc. today announced plans to more than double its science-based climate goal, targeting a reduction of absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its value chain by more than 40% by 2030. In addition, the company has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, one decade earlier than called for in the Paris Agreement. Specifically, PepsiCo plans to reduce absolute GHG emissions across its direct operations by 75% and its indirect value chain by 40% by 2030. This action is expected to result in the equivalent of taking more than five million cars off the road for a full year.

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New rules for Idaho PCN field quarantines

U.S. officials have released a new plan involving methods to deal with pale cyst nematode discovered in 2006 in some southeastern Idaho potato fields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final rule that takes effect at the end of January. It sets out years-long criteria for killing off the pests and reopening quarantined fields to production. The new rule follows a 2018 court decision in a lawsuit filed by potato farmers that found the U.S. government illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields.

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Unexpected purchases from Belgian processors shake up the potato market

The Belgian potato processing industry has set the tone for the Northwest European potato market at the start of the year after a number of Belgian factories unexpectedly purchased the product at a 5 euro base. As a result, it is said that the prices of the Belgian and French stock exchanges experienced an increase of more than 100% compared to the end of 2020.

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Taco Bell’s potatoes are coming back

Last year, Taco Bell cut a number of items from its menu, including two dishes that featured its seasoned potato bites: Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes and the Spicy Potato Soft Taco. Those two items will be back in restaurants on March 11, the chain announced on Thursday. Rumors of potatoes getting axed started to swirl last summer after a Reddit user, identified as a verified employee, said potatoes were leaving the menu. Taco Bell soon confirmed the news, leading to a stream of dismay online.

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Jersey potato farmers fly in workers from the Philippines

Workers from the Philippines have been recruited to work on farms in Jersey to plug the gap left in the wake of Brexit, according to a report by the Daily Mail. Growers had reportedly feared that Jersey Royal potatoes would be left to rot in the fields after farm workers, many of whom were Polish, abandoned the island after the EU referendum. Farmers say the void has finally been filled by Filipino workers who were ‘keeping the farming industry going’ on the Channel Island.

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Potato early dying disease in the spotlight at Canadian Potato Summit

Potato early dying disease, also known as Verticillium wilt, results in early potato maturity and can limit yield by as much as 50 per cent. What can Canadian growers do to protect their spuds? Mario Tenuta and Dmytro Yevtushenko of the Canadian Potato Early Dying Network (CanPEDNet) will share research updates on this disease during the upcoming Canadian Potato Summit on February 3.

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Dutch criminals said to use potato exports to Africa to launder money

According to the Fiscale Inlichtingen en OpsporingsDienst (FIOD), Dutch criminals are increasingly using potato exports to Africa to launder money, FIOD chief Bert Langerak has said. Investigations by the tax fraud detection body, whose annual report was published on Monday, has shown that criminals ‘exported’ at least €150m worth of produce, particularly potatoes, to Africa in the last five years.

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‘Stop/start’ harvest results in challenging year for Irish potato growers

Not getting the maincrop harvest completed until the days directly before Christmas has added considerably to the production costs incurred during 2020 by some potato growers including William Monagle from Co. Donegal. “Usually, we would be out of the fields at some stage during November; we normally start harvesting at the beginning of October,” Monagle told Richard Halleron of AgriLand. “An extended harvest adds to growers’ costs. Adding to the challenges faced by producers is the fact that average yields were down by around 20% last year.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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