News February 2021

Weird news: Mr. Potato Head goes gender neutral

Mr. Potato Head is no longer a mister. Hasbro, the company that’s made the potato-shaped plastic toy for nearly 70 years, is giving the spud a gender neutral new name: Potato Head. The change will appear on boxes this year. As part of the rebranding, Hasbro will release a new Potato Head playset this fall that will let kids create their own type of families, including two moms or two dads.

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AHDB Petitioners: ‘Environment Secretary’s comments show growers’ vote will be honoured’

Growers opposed to the continuation of a compulsory levy to fund AHDB Horticulture have welcomed comments made by Environment Secretary George Eustice that the clear vote to abolish the levy will be honoured, according to a press release by the so-called AHDB Petitioners. Vegetable and potato grower John Bratley said: “We have always said that growers must not be forced to pay the levy, and that it amounts to unfair taxation without representation.

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Potato Soil Health Project: Webinar now available on demand

In this recorded webinar, hosted by Spudman magazine, you’ll hear from researchers for the USDA/SCRI funded Potato Soil Health Project and learn about what they’ve discovered through research. The panel will introduce three distinct aspects of the program. The webinar is now available to watch at your convenience.

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Online seminar: Foliar disease management and avoiding fungicide resistance

Miller Research in Idaho will host another of its online potato seminars. Dr Jeff Miller will discuss the strengths of weaknesses of different fungicide programs for managing early blight, brown spot, white mold, and late blight. He will also cover guidelines for responsible fungicide use with respect to avoiding the development of fungicide resistance.

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Potato Europe 2021 event theme ‘resonates with the industry’

With the event theme “What’s Now, What’s New and What’s the Future”, PotatoEurope 2021 promises to provide insights into current developments in the potato industry as well as a look at the future. As FreshPlaza’s Nick Peters reports, “the large interest in booking a stand for the trade fair to be held at the location of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) Field crops in Lelystad on September 1-2, shows that this theme resonates with the industry.”

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UK regulations relaxed to allow Mallorcan potato exports

Mallorca has been exporting potatoes to the United Kingdom since 1927 and future exports are now guaranteed because the British Government has agreed to change the regulations and allow Mallorcan potatoes to be sold in the British market. Conditions for exporting companies are not the same as they were before Brexit, because London requires a phytosanitary certificate with more demanding standards than before.

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Mexico’s Supreme Court delays decision on US fresh potato imports

During today’s hearing of the Mexican Supreme Court, the justice who authored the draft ruling overturning a ban on the importation of US fresh potatoes asked the court to postpone a vote until next week at the earliest. At issue is a draft ruling that would overturn a 2017 lower court decision preventing the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh US potatoes throughout the country.

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WUR researcher: ‘Early blight spread a warning to potato growers across Europe’

Across Europe growers are being encouraged to give greater thought to how they protect crops against early blight (Alternaria spp.). Speaking at the Bayer potato conference via video link from his office in the Netherlands, Bert Evenhuis of Wageningen University & Research, reported that a novel genotype of Alternaria solani has shown itself to be more aggressive than wild relatives and less well controlled by products containing pyraclostrobin, azoxystrobin and famoxadone.

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Tong introduces updates to its range of vegetable polishing equipment

As part of the company’s ongoing development programme, Tong Engineering has unveiled several updates to its range of vegetable polishing equipment. “As a supplier to the food industry we have been fortunate that demand for advanced and automated vegetable handling equipment has continued to strengthen,” explains Simon Lee, Sales Manager at Tong Engineering. “With this in mind, our product development team not only focus on designing and introducing new equipment to the market, but they are also committed to developing our existing machinery.

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2021 online Canadian Spud Congress and virtual trade show to kick off

Spud Smart magazine partnered with provincial and national potato associations to in Canada to organize the first online Spud Congress, said to be “the most exciting Canadian potato industry trade and educational event of the year”. The event will be hosted virtually and start at 10am CST today. Potato industry professionals are invited to join others for high-level discussions and unscripted debates with the industry’s innovators, producers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

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GRIMME’s EVO 280 harvester underwent major upgrade

GRIMME’s EVO 280 harvester was first launched in 2018. This two-row bunker harvester with its three large separators and an intake for various crops, such as potatoes, onions and carrots, underwent a major upgrade. The EVO 280 has been upgraded and is now equipped with a completely redesigned version of the NonstopBunker, with a capacity of up to 6 tonnes, in addition to the 8 tonnes standard bunker. Several other upgrades were made to the machine as well.

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Two new Tri-State potato varieties poised for release

Two new potato varieties with ties to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen are poised to be released soon by the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program. Rainier will be well suited for both the fresh and processed potato markets. It’s a cross of Canela Russet and an Aberdeen breeding clone. NDA050237B-1R is a vibrant, red clone that was crossed in North Dakota.

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Online seminar: Phosphorous acid fungicides for controlling pink rot

Miller Research in Idaho will today host another of its 1-hour virtual seminars on potato pest and disease management. Dr. Jeff Miller will discuss the latest research on the most effective way to use phosphorous acid fungicides for controlling pink rot. He will also discuss the susceptibility of varieties to pink rot and leak and what post-harvest treatments are the most effective in reducing disease in storage.

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Potato breeder to plant first field generation of crosses with greening resistance

The potato breeder with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen is using genetics from a wild spud relative to develop crosses that won’t turn green when exposed to light. Richard Novy, potato breeder with the agency’s Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Facility, plans to plant the first field generation of crosses developed to resist tuber greening this spring.

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New NPC president on pandemic impact: ‘Industry on better footing than could be imagined’

Today at the National Potato Council (NPC) 2021 Annual Meeting, held virtually due to travel restrictions, Dominic LaJoie of Van Buren, Maine was elected to serve as NPC’s 2021 President and to head the grower-led organization’s Executive Committee. “Thanks to the hard work of NPC and our state partners, our industry is on a better footing today than we could have imagined during the pandemic’s darkest times,” said NPC President LaJoie in his address at the Annual Meeting.

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UMaine Extension to host online presentations by potato specialists

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will host a one-hour Zoom meeting consisting of two presentations by potato specialists on Wednesday, February 24. Dr. Gary Secor, NDSU, will discuss how managing potato diseases can close the gap between what growers produce and what is possible to produce. Dr. Robert Larkin, UDSA-ARS, will give a presentation on Incorporating Disease-Suppressive Rotation Crops into Potato Cropping Systems.

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Gene-Altered Attitudes: The gene revolution turns 25

Roger Beachy still remembers the excitement of planting the first genetically altered food crop into United States soils. It was the summer of 1987 when he, along with a team of Monsanto scientists, transplanted tomatoes modified to resist a virus at the company’s research farm, near Jerseyville, Illinois. It would take almost a full decade before transgenic plants gained a serious foothold in U.S. soils, and they would not be those the idealistic young scientist envisioned.

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Mindful Snacker: ‘Ground-breaking technology’ to produce all-natural novel crisp brand

Challenger brand Mindful Snacker is promising to make 2021 ‘the year of healthy snacking’ and ‘clean comfort food’. Its crisps will be made with ‘ground-breaking technology’, the company says. The company is led by an all-female team with more than 20 years of experience in the snacking category. It vows it will ‘change the way we talk about and consume crisps forever’.

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2020 a ‘turbulent’ year for Cosun and Aviko, but positive outlook for 2021

Royal Cosun closed 2020 with a slightly higher group result than in 2019, the company says in a press release issued this week. The result was the outcome of the wide-ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business groups in an exceptional year. Aviko had an exceptionally turbulent year. Following its record operating profit in 2019, volume fell sharply in March 2020 when the hospitality sector was shut down during the first lockdown. But Aviko is confident it will pursue its growth strategy in 2021.

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Covid-19 outbreak among staff at Branston potato packaging plant

Multiple employees at Branston’s Perthshire potato packaging plant have tested positive for Covid-19. Staff at Branston in Abernethy were confirmed to have the virus with several more forced into isolation because of the outbreak. The company will now close down for around 36 hours from Friday to undergo a deep clean.

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Side Delights: Healthy-eating, immunity gain importance with consumers since pandemic

Side Delights revealed recently released trend data on the growing focus on the health benefits of foods and the impact it has on consumer behavior. Since the inception of the pandemic, healthy-eating and immunity has continued to gain importance with consumers, and it shows in their shopping habits. Side Delights says its potatoes are grown in the best potato growing areas, stored in high-tech storage facilities, and packed and delivered close to customers/final mile experts.

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British potato market lacklustre, industry waits for easing of lockdown restrictions

Demand across the week is described as lacklustre, with the majority of movement on contract. The government roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, due 22 February, is awaited by the industry. This is needed to help forecast future demand, although some are concerned whether timings of easements will stimulate sufficient levels, according to this week’s Potato Weekly report by AHDB.

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New test installation said to help ‘make Belgian fries even better’ in future

Belgian processors that produce fries will soon be able to try out new production methods in a test installation in Kortrijk. In a building at Ghent University, 700,000 euros will be invested to install a real ‘frying line’ for testing novel products before commercialisation. “The intention is to make the step from lab research to an industrial scale easier,” according to Flanders’ FOOD. “The new pilot-scale frying line will make Belgian fries and croquettes even tastier and healthier in the future,” says Romain Cools, consultant at Belgapom.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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