News July 2021

A blight-resistant gmo potato variety help farmers in Uganda to defeat late blight and change their fortunes

Successful innovation for agriculture will depend on thorough and careful understanding of the aspirations of beneficiaries and the challenges farmers face. It entails putting them at the center of these innovations, according to this blog post by the International Potato Center (CIP). As part of its work to research solutions addressing hunger and poverty, CIP and partners worked in Uganda to develop and test a new type of blight-resistant potato, which may not need any fungicides.

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PotatoEurope 2021 outdoor exhibition cancelled

Due to the current developments in regard to the coronavirus pandemic in the Netherlands and the associated lack of official approval from Dutch authorities to hold the event, PotatoEurope 2021, an outdoor exhibition on 25 hectares, scheduled for 1-2 September 2021 in Flevoland, Netherlands, has been cancelled.

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Potato growers in Northern Ireland to receive more Covid support funds

A further Covid-19 support scheme worth up to £2 million for Northern Ireland farmers growing potatoes for the processing supply chain has been announced. The financial support package comes in response to the significant reduction in demand for potatoes from the hospitality and food service sector. Growers who still have quantities of unsold potatoes in their stores, which were destined for the potato processing supply chain, can apply.

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Key Technology introduces ‘Key Discovery’: A next-generation suite of software solutions

Key Technology introduces ‘Key Discovery’. This suite of software solutions transforms Key’s digital sorting systems into IIoT connected devices that collect, analyze and share data while sorting product. “The Industrial Internet of Things is a reality in the food processing industry. Key Discovery represents the next-generation of our information analytics software solutions,” said Dave Crewe, Senior Vice President of AIS Engineering at Key Technology.

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Researchers unveil innovative technology to treat plant pathogens and pests, including zebra chip disease

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced recently that they have found an innovative way to treat pathogens and pests in potato, citrus trees, and tomato plants without the use of antibiotics, zebra-chip disease in potato. They found that plants showed significant reduction of each pathogen or symptom development in response to FANA treatments.

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The ‘tricot’ approach: How African farmers participate in potato variety selection and dissemination

The “triadic comparisons of technologies” – or tricot – approach is being used in a citizen-science project funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) to identify and scale up best potato and cassava varieties in Rwanda. Farmers are trained to conduct a trial with potato seed and then, at the end of the season, they are asked which variety they consider ‘best’ or ‘worst’ on several characteristics including yield, marketability, plant vigor and more.

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Farmer Ambassador: ‘Farmers like me want to join the fight against climate change. But we need help’

Vanessa Kummer is a farmer from Colfax, North Dakota. She is a Farmer Ambassador with Farm Journal Foundation. In a recent article published as a CNN Opinion piece, she writes: The agricultural industry is often misunderstood by the general public, and we haven’t always been credited for being forward thinking on climate change. However today, more farmers recognize the evidence around us and are turning the tide. …To truly move the needle, the government needs to provide more support.”

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UK produce growers call for grower-run research agency

The Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG), a voluntary group of business operators in the horticulture and potato sectors, is calling for Defra to support a grower-managed research agency following the ballot on the AHDB statutory levy for horticulture and potato growers. GBLG is made up of a voluntary group of 36 independent and representative business operators in the horticulture and potato sectors.

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ProSource Produce and Arrowhead Potato agreement to boost year-round potato packing and sales capacity

ProSource Produce LLC., and Arrowhead Potato Co., announced that they have entered into an exclusive sales and marketing agreement beginning in August of 2021. Arrowhead Potato Co., doing business as Moss Produce LLC., is a family owned and operated farming and fresh potato packing operation located in Rupert, ID. ProSource Produce LLC., is a grower owned and operated sales and marketing company based in Hailey, Idaho.

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Lamb Weston posted ‘robust’ fiscal results, expects demand for fries to return to pre-pandemic levels

Lamb Weston Holdings posted robust fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 results, as both top and bottom lines increased year over year. Results were largely aided by demand recovery for frozen potato products, with curbs being lifted and restaurant traffic improving. Demand in Europe and key export markets is likely to improve with the increased availability of vaccines in the regions.

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Texas A&M potato breeding program to show off latest varieties

The annual Texas A&M Potato Breeding and Variety Development Program Field Day, hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Barrett Potato Farms, will be July 28. Isabel Vales, Ph.D., AgriLife Research potato breeder Vales said it has been a challenging year to grow potatoes in Springlake. Potatoes emerged late and had to endure inclement weather. “It is a miracle to see tubers underground,” she said.

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‘How to drink a cold spud’: Two Canadian companies launch potato based beers

Last week, The Establishment Brewing Company announced the release of a new beer called “This Spud’s For You” – an American lager. In its promotional campaign, the company use the slogan “Taters. But not for tots.” Earlier in the year, Holy Whale Brewery in New Brunswick announced “a kind of goofy beer” brewed with Prince Edward Island potatoes.

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Viewpoint: ‘How COVID has altered the future of US agriculture and the role of biotechnology’

The past year has been a doozy. Being locked up for a year and watching half a million Americans die was traumatizing. In the most productive agricultural country in the world, millions of people lined up for food and many Americans died because Covid preferentially attacks people with pre-existing conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. So says Jim Budzynski in an article published by Genetic Literacy Project.

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First Nations chip brand hitting Canadian shelves

Canadian supermarkets are soon to be stocking Indigenous-owned potato chip brand Tomahawk Chips. In just over five years an Indigenous business owner has taken an upstart potato chip business from humble roots in rural Manitoba, to a distribution deal that will now see his chips sold all across the country.

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New Tong mobile washing system creates efficiencies for major UK potato supplier

A new mobile washing facility, featuring Tong’s next generation barrel washer, is bringing increased throughput and a highly flexible washing solution for UK potato supplier Wolds Produce this season. Featuring the latest model of Tong’s popular potato barrel washer, the new mobile washing system is built to handle high throughputs of crop, with a 4m long, 1200m wide barrel washer and integrated destoner for reliable removal of stones from crop prior to washing.

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Expiration of anti-dumping tariffs on fries leaves South African potato industry vulnerable

Anti-dumping tariffs on frozen French fries imported from the Netherlands and Germany have expired, leaving the South African potato industry vulnerable to ‘dumping’. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (Potatoes SA), said “The previous protection mechanism [proved] to be effective in ensuring the sustainability [of the local industry], and there is more than significant case law to suggest it to be necessary.”

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Desiccating potato crops: What are the options in 2021?

With diquat no longer available (Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland), Irish potato growers will have no option but to look at other crop desiccation options over the coming weeks. This issue was the focus of a farm demonstration, hosted by the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at its Greenmount farm in Co. Antrim this week, which Agriland’s Richard Halleron went along to.

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‘Small is beautiful’: Technico offers wide range of TechniTuber® potato varieties world wide

The Technico Group of Companies announced today that it is in the process of upgrading and commercialising its award winning TECHNITUBER Seed Potato Technology for suitable application across various geographic regions in the world. According to CEO Dr. Soundar Soundararadjane, “The TECHNITUBER® seed size of approximately 13mm, weighing a mere 1.5 grams, is viable enough to be planted at only approximately 100 kg per hectare. TECHNITUBER seeds are delivered pre-sprouted in ‘field ready’ conditions and are easily transported.

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NPC President: Hoping for foodservice to open up, having live conversations with growers

Nearly halfway through his national potato council presidency, Dominic Lajoie spoke to Newssource8′s Rhian Lowndes about how things are going in this week’s County Ag. “The Delta variant and spikes across the country, it’s concerning,” he says. “We definitely want our schools open, our universities open, our restaurants fully open. You know food service is a big part of the potato industry. If those markets aren’t developed back to where they were, we’re gonna feel a lot more pain.”

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Lamb Weston to invest $415 million in new french fry processing line in Idaho

Lamb Weston Holdings announced yesterday an expansion of french fry processing capacity at its facility in American Falls, Idaho, and the declaration of its quarterly dividend. “This investment in American Falls complements our recently-announced plans to construct a greenfield french fry processing facility in China, as well as capacity expansion in Russia by our European joint venture, Lamb-Weston/Meijer,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO of Lamb Weston.

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India’s WayCool Foods to invest in SV Agri to boost supply of potato seed, storage and processing facilities

WayCool Foods, a fast growing agri-commerce company in India, announced this week that they will be investing USD 5 million into Siddhi Vinayak Agri Processing Pvt. Ltd (SV Agri), one of India’s fully integrated players in the potato supply chain. The investment will allow both WayCool and SV Agri to leverage their strong supply chain eco-systems and boost the quality and supply of potato seed, storage and processing facilities across India.

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Irrigation now in use to maintain potato yields in Ireland

According to Wilson’s Country agronomist Stuart Meredith, up to 30% of potato crops in the Republic of Ireland are now being irrigated in order to maintain yields. The equivalent figure for Northern Ireland is 10%. The continuing warm spell has created significant moisture deficit challenges for most Irish potato crops.

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Research breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University. In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both potato and rice plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress.

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Expert: ‘Will potato late blight ever go away?’

Andrivon Didier, Research Director at INRAE, France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, discusses the existential threat of potato late blight in a recently published ebook article. What can be done to stop it though? According to Didier, the answer to controlling blights is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). He further explains: “A more complex strategy relying on a combination of control methods, such as prophylaxis (sanitation), resistant cultivars, biocontrol, decision support systems and precision agriculture.”

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Canadian crop update: Good moisture levels in the east, hot and dry in the west

Growing conditions across the country seem to have reversed regionally from a year ago. This year the four main growing provinces in eastern and central Canada have received good moisture levels to date, while the four western provinces have been extremely hot and dry. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) provides an up to date summary of crop growth across the country.

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