Latest news stories from around the World

Carlos Ochoa: Rightfully named the ‘Indiana Jones’ of the potato world

The latest installment of Krishak Jakat’s ‘Seed Heroes’ series honors Peruvian scientist Carlos Ochoa for his significant contributions to understanding and improving potato varieties. Known as the “Indiana Jones of the potato world,” Ochoa’s adventurous expeditions led to the discovery of numerous wild potato species. His work has greatly enhanced crop resilience and food security in Peru and beyond. Ochoa’s legacy is celebrated on International Potato Day, 30 May 2024.

From field to flavor: Growing the future of Lay’s, one potato seed at a time

Josh Parsons, an R&D scientist at PepsiCo’s Rhinelander, Wisconsin, farm leads a team combining traditional breeding with modern tools to cultivate high-quality potatoes for Lay’s chips. They grow new potato varieties through data-driven cross-pollination. These varieties are selected for yield, disease resistance, nutrition, and taste, aligning with PepsiCo’s sustainability and nutrition goals. Despite the lengthy nine-year development process, only a few seeds become successful, ensuring environmental, business, and consumer benefits.

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Rock-solid results: How Newfoundland farmers are overcoming stony soils with cutting-edge technology

Newfoundland’s rocky soil makes growing root crops challenging. In 2021, farmer Chris Lester and AAFC tested a stone burier and bed shaper tiller. The equipment separates stones from soil, enhancing soil bed quality. Chris Lester and other farmers were impressed with the results, leading to wider adoption. The stone burier promises better crop growth and reduced soil compaction. Data recorded with the stone burier and bed shaper also showed that water availability was more uniform throughout soils beds.

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Britain’s mashed potato mania: Tesco and Branston team up to meet surging demand

Mashed potato sales have surged at Tesco with a million more packs sold in 2023 than in 2022, leading to the opening of a new multi-million-pound mash factory. Demand rose post-pandemic and during the cost-of-living crisis. Tesco partnered with Branston for gourmet mash recipes, creating 80 jobs at the new facility. Branston aims to modernize the beloved British comfort food.

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Weather challenges persist: European and Irish potato farmers struggle with planting delays as demand stays high

The latest Irish Farmers Association report underscores the difficulties Irish potato farmers face due to unpredictable weather, causing planting delays and a potentially late harvest. Despite these challenges, retail demand and home consumption remain strong, pressuring old season stocks and driving up physical prices. This trend is seen across Europe, with weather impacts noted in the Netherlands and the UK.

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McCain Foods CEO Koeune reveal major investment plans for French processing facilities during presidential visit

McCain Foods announced a €350 million investment in its French production facilities, enhancing capabilities at Harnes, Béthune, and Matougues. This initiative, revealed during President Macron’s visit, aims to boost production by 25% while prioritizing sustainability. State-of-the-art facility upgrades will reduce CO2 emissions and optimize water use. The investment supports McCain’s vision for a resilient future in French agriculture, benefiting its network of farmers, employees, and customers.

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United against potato viruses: The ‘Potato Virus Initiative’ advances detection, breeding, and management strategies

The federally funded “Potato Virus Initiative” aims to combat Potato Virus Y (PVY) and Potato Mop-Top Virus (PMTV) through collaborative research involving over 25 researchers. Led by the University of Idaho, the project focuses on virus management strategies, detection methods, breeding resistant varieties, and effective in-season management. Key findings include advanced detection methods, optimal post-harvest detection, innovative treatments for dormancy break, soil microbiome insights, and breeding for resistance.

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International Potato Day: Celebrating diversity, nutrition, sustainability and hope in a global staple crop

The International Potato Day, to be first celebrated on May 30th following a UN resolution, honours the potato’s versatility and significance as a staple food. The German Potato Industry, employing 110,000 people, is the largest EU producer with 264,700 hectares of cultivation. Potatoes are rich in nutrients, highly versatile in cooking, resilient, and sustainable. The event underscores their role in global nutrition, food security, and reducing ecological footprints, according to a recent press release issued jointly by German potato organizations UNIKA and DKHV.

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New era in plant breeding: Ohalo’s ‘Boosted Breeding’ technology a game changer for global agriculture

Ohalo has unveiled Boosted Breeding™, a groundbreaking new technology set to revolutionize global agriculture. This innovative system allows plants to inherit the complete genetic composition from both parents, resulting in offspring with enhanced traits, such as increased disease resistance and drought tolerance. Early trials indicate potential yield gains of 50-100%+. The technology also enables the generation of genetically uniform seeds for crops traditionally not grown from seeds, like potatoes, offering a scalable, cost-effective alternative to vegetative propagation.

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Ukrainian potato price hike: Prices now triple compared to last year

EastFruit reports a significant price increase for last year’s potatoes in the Ukrainian market, with current prices for the 2023 harvest ranging from 15 to 22 UAH per kilogram (approximately $0.38 to $0.55). This is a 27% hike since the previous week, attributed to a seasonal decrease in supply amid steady demand. Quality issues and a rapid depletion of stocks contribute to the rise, with prices now 3.4 times higher than the same period last year.

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How to make irrigation water as effective as rainwater: This new technology might be the answer

Rainmaker.Earth, a South African-based technology company, is revolutionizing agricultural irrigation by mimicking natural rainfall, improving water and soil quality. Their advanced oxidation process enhances water absorption, reduces runoff, and boosts soil health, benefiting high-demand crops like potatoes. This sustainable approach supports biodiversity, reduces chemical use, and promotes efficient water use. Rainmaker.Earth is expanding globally, offering farmers a sustainable, effective irrigation solution that enhances crop yield and quality.

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Potato industry reaffirms trust in Potatoes New Zealand with overwhelming levy support

In an overwhelming endorsement, 94.74% of voting New Zealand potato growers supported continuing the potato levy, administered by Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ), for another six years. This approval represents 95.83% of the previous season’s gross sales. Voter participation increased significantly to 54.68%. PNZ officials expressed their commitment to addressing industry challenges and advancing growers’ interests, reiterating the organization’s vital role in advocacy and government liaisons.

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FMC’s Anthem Flex herbicide approved for use in potatoes

The EPA has recently approved a label expansion for Anthem Flex herbicide for use in potatoes. This approval allows growers to use the herbicide to control over 30 weed species, including pigweed and foxtail, with a longer residual effect. Anthem Flex is based on two effective active ingredients, providing extended control and reducing reliance on postemergent herbicides. This is significant as it supports easier, more consistent weed management for potato farmers.

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Dalhousie’s McCain Research Chair secures five more years of support from McCain Foods and Potatoes New Brunswick

McCain Foods and Potatoes New Brunswick have extended their support for Dalhousie University’s McCain Research Chair, reinforcing their commitment to sustainable agriculture and food security. Dr. Ahmad Al-Mallahi, holding this position since 2018, focuses on developing advanced agricultural technologies. His team has produced prototypes that optimize farm productivity and has recently been granted more support for another five years. This partnership aims to integrate cutting-edge technologies with regenerative farming practices.

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The fascinating intelligence of potato plants: Insights researchers are confirming, but farmers already know

The concept of plant intelligence is revolutionizing agriculture, highlighting potatoes’ ability to perceive and respond to environmental stimuli through complex biochemical processes. This intelligence allows potatoes to adapt, communicate, and solve problems, such as optimizing root systems and photosynthesis. Recognizing these abilities can advance farming techniques, making them more sustainable and productive. Recent studies underscore how potatoes utilize these capabilities for nutrient uptake, pathogen resistance, and overall survival, offering strategies for precision agriculture and sustainable farming practices.

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WPC24 welcomes climate advocate Dr. Anika Molesworth as Ambassador and radio icon Leith Forrest as MC

The World Potato Congress 2024 announced Dr. Anika Molesworth as the WPC24 Ambassador and Leith Forrest as the Congress MC for their upcoming event in Adelaide from June 23-26. Molesworth, a renowned agriculture and climate advocate, will deliver a keynote on sustainable agriculture. Forrest, celebrated for his radio work and charity involvement, will engage attendees with his expertise and community commitment. The Congress aims to enhance global discussion on sustainable potato farming and climate solutions.

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McCain Foods to modernize and expand French potato processing facilities for sustainable growth

McCain Foods plans to invest €350 million into its French potato processing facilities over five years to boost production by 25% and reduce emissions. Investment targets include modernizing the Matougues plant, which will help expand operations significantly. This initiative, highlighted during President Macron’s visit, aligns with broader market growth in processed potato products driven by demand for convenience foods and advancements in processing technology. Challenges such as price volatility and supply disruptions due to climate impacts are also noted.

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Fight Against Blight: James Hutton Institute secures funding to continue vital late blight monitoring and testing

The James Hutton Institute secures additional funding to continue its role in the Fight Against Blight (FAB) scheme, protecting Britain’s potato crops against late blight. Initiated in 2006, the scheme involves a network of FAB Scouts monitoring Phytophthora infestans across the UK. This project, vital for early detection and management of new resistant strains of blight, is supported by a consortium of industry leaders. Despite challenges like resistance and regulatory pressures, the collaborative effort aims for effective blight control and sustainable farming practices.

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Leadership change at the UK Potato Processors Association: John Sedgwick takes helm as Chair

John Sedgwick has been appointed as the new Board Chair of the UK Potato Processors’ Association (PPA), taking over from Dan Hewitt. With extensive experience in the potato industry, Sedgwick aims to address the sector’s challenges such as supply chain issues and economic pressures. The PPA plans to enhance its profile and showcase the benefits of its membership amidst these challenges. Sedgwick’s leadership is welcomed by PPA’s Director General, Andrew Curtis, highlighting Sedgwick’s well-recognized role within the sector.

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Glyphosate under fire: Scientists struggle to find effective alternatives, experts warn of unintended consequences

Amid concerns about glyphosate, the most used herbicide globally, scientists struggle to find safe, effective alternatives, according to a Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) article by Andrew Porterfield and Jon Entine. Their analysis reveals exaggerated health concerns and underscores glyphosate’s proven safety. However, existing substitutes lack efficacy, increasing costs and environmental risks. The authors argue for a balanced, research-driven approach to replacing glyphosate.

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Discover the vital role of potatoes in Culinary Medicine: A comprehensive webinar

Join Dr. Sabrina Falquier on June 5, 2024, for a webinar exploring the essential role of potatoes in Culinary Medicine. This webinar will demonstrate their versatility, nutritional benefits, and cultural importance through a live cooking demonstration. Aimed at health practitioners, the webinar will provide practical dietary guidance using potatoes to create nutrient-rich, plant-forward meals suited for diverse patient needs. Sign up to learn how to integrate America’s favorite vegetable into patient care.

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Potato emergence problems: A practical and detailed guide for growers

Potato growers struggling with poor plant emergence can benefit from a comprehensive guide created by esteemed North American specialists. This guide lists common issues, including bacterial/fungal diseases like soft rot and late blight, and physiological problems such as chilling injuries. It emphasizes the importance of using certified seeds, managing soil conditions, and handling seeds properly. Detailed descriptions, visual aids, and explanations are provided to aid in rapid problem identification and crop management improvement.

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When the bots come marching in: AgBot makes debut to Scottish growers

Scotland’s first autonomous tractor, AgBot, was introduced by SoilEssentials, a provider of precision farming solutions. Designed by AgXeed BV in The Netherlands, AgBot offers configurations including tracked and wheeled models. It aims to enhance agricultural efficiency by reducing manual labor and increasing yields, promising a robust future for farming. Further UK demonstrations are anticipated.

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Canada: ‘This is Edmonton’ podcast explores Alberta’s prolific potato industry

In 2022, Alberta emerged as Canada’s leading potato producer, contributing 21.8% to the national output with over 1.2 million tonnes, surpassing Prince Edward Island and Manitoba. A significant factor is a new large-scale potato processing facility by The Little Potato Company in Nisku Business Park. Details of Alberta’s growing prominence in potato production were discussed in the “This is Edmonton” podcast, highlighting regional agricultural developments.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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