News July 2021

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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Nominations for the 2022 World Potato Congress Industry Awards now requested

The World Potato Congress Industry Award ceremony is an important and prestigious event on the international potato scene. The award recognizes a lifetime of contributions to the potato industry. Typically, three outstanding individuals are recognized during the Industry Awards ceremony at the World Potato Congress. Nominations for the next Congress in Dublin, Ireland, May 30 to June 2, 2022 are now requested.

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1,4Group considering building a $35 million chemical processing plant in Louisiana

An Idaho potato preservative and insect repellent producer is considering building a $35 million chemical processing plant in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Meridian, Idaho-based 1,4Group was founded in 1992 by a former potato farmer and has grown into a global business with operations in Canada, Mexico and Europe. The proposed complex would potentially replace a Chinese production site and manufacture insect repellent and a potato preservative for global export.

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British farm levy body AHDB announces plans to cut costs by £7.8m

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK plans to axe a number of senior management staff as part of efforts to reduce costs by £7.8 million. The UK farm levy body has also unveiled plans to let levy-paying farmers and agricultural businesses vote on the future direction of its activities in spring next year.

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How to optimize fungicide applications with drones

With the rise of precision agriculture solutions, the farming industry has become increasingly tech savvy. Many growers and producers have embraced GPS-enabled tractors, variable-rate fertilizer applications, and smart platforms that monitor everything from pest populations to yield performance. Emily Carlson, Rantizo Marketing Manager reports.

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Scientists’ view on how to tackle worrying emerging potato blight strains

Breeders in Britain believe they have the tools to stay one step ahead of late blight in potatoes, despite concern about new and more aggressive strains emerging across Europe. Since 2000, researchers have had technology that allows rapid identification of any genetic changes – or new “clones” – in populations of Phytophthora infestans. In the Netherlands, Wageningen-based Solynta’s research team lead Michiel de Vries says it is now up to the breeding companies to develop resistant varieties.

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Wisconsin potato researcher discussing season projects

Potato research and the current crop were the topics of a University of Wisconsin field demonstration day Thursday. Amanda Gevens is a potato & vegetable disease researcher for the University of Wisconsin and the state’s growers. She tells Brownfield the one good thing about a drier than normal June is fewer instances of potato disease. As for research this growing season, Gevens says she’s focused on comparing early and traditional planting dates and also on seed treatment.

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Video: Potato farmers in Maine’s Aroostook county expect a bigger and better year

Last year not a good year for potato farmers in Maine. Dry weather and the pandemic saw to that, but this year things seem to be turning around for them. This year growers are expecting a bigger yield, says University of Maine crop ecology professor Greg Porter. “There’s optimism that there’ll be a good supply here of good quality potatoes and that the market will be there to take those potatoes,” he says.

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Canadian growers planted more potatoes in 2021, although still well below 2003 peak

Statistics Canada released their first estimate of potato acreage in Canada from data obtained with their survey of Canadian potato growers. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) reports that the 2021 potato acreage is estimated at 378,624 acres. This is an increase of 5.3% above 2020. It is still well below its peak of 457,500 acres which occurred back in 2003.

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Annual Report: McCain Foods in Britain impacted by pandemic and poor potato crop

McCain Foods (GB) Ltd is a leading manufacturer of frozen potato products in Great Britain. The company this week released its “Annual Report and Unaudited Financial Statements for the Financial Year ended June 2020”. According to the annual report, McCain saw drop in annual sales and fell to a loss last year as Covid hit its out of home sales and it suffered from a poor potato crop.

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‘First of its kind’: Branston getting ready to create vegan meat using potato protein

UK potato supplier Branston is creating a new factory dedicated to transforming potatoes into plant-based protein. Vegan Food & Living writes that the £6 million facility will extract high-grade plant protein from potatoes, using potatoes from Branston’s supply. Right now, Branston supplies potatoes in fresh or prepared formats such as ready-made potato fries. However, the company wanted to find more uses for its potato crops.v

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Full speed ahead with the new AVR MultiForce front cultivator

Perfect seedbed preparation of the soil is crucial in potato cultivation. For this reason, AVR continues to develop not only its planting and harvesting machines, but also its cultivators. The company is committed to ensure that each new edition to its cultivator range is even better adapted to new conditions and fitted with the latest technology available.

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Canadian potato growers hope mustard and arugula combo will prevent pests, make soil healthier

New research on Canada’s Prince Edward Island is using mustard and arugula to tackle pest problems in potato fields with a side benefit, farmers hope, of making the soil healthier at the same time. As the CBC’s Nancy Russell reports in this news story, the mustard in the field is called caliente rojo, and is specially bred to have high levels of glucosinolates, a natural component in many pungent plants including mustard, cabbage, and horseradish.

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‘Chuno’: An Andean dehydrated potato foodstuff that lasts for decades after preparation

Chuno comes from the indigenous Aymara word ch’unu. It is also practiced in Peru, but its origins are uncertain. Archeologist Jedu Sagarnaga believes this conservation method was developed “probably during the Formative Period” from around 2,000 to 200 BC. It may be even older, as 2017 tests on chuno dug up in Peru showed it was more than 5,000 years old. After it is prepared, this foodstuff lasts for decades.

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Staying up-to-date on harvesting technology key to final crop value, say equipment engineers

If you’ve been in the potato business for any time at all, you probably have an excellent understanding of your own harvesting equipment. However, because growers are often only familiar with what they themselves use, you may not realize how many money- and effort-saving options now exist in harvesting technology. In this article Lockwood engineers provide a brief overview of new harvesting technologies.

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Wada Farms introduces new products for foodservice

“We are changing how we go to shows and even how we market ourselves as a whole, because everybody always views us as onions and potatoes, but we do a lot of other items,” said Joe Esta, vice president of Wada Farms Marketing Group in Idaho Falls, ID. Wada Farms will be featuring its chipping potato, a round white potato marketed under the label Big Joe’s Chippers at the PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey.

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Morrisons says Scottish potato depot closure will not affect farmer suppliers

Supermarket giant Morrisons says plans to close its potato grading and storage depot in Carnoustie will not affect its Scottish growers and its commitment to buying Scottish potatoes, according to a report by Gemma Mackie for The Press and Journal. The company, which sources potatoes from 40 growers in Scotland, announced the closure of the grading and storage depot at Clayholes Farm near Carnoustie, on Tuesday.

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European potato growers reduced planted area in 2021

The total potato area within the NEPG zone (EU-04) has been reduced by 4,7%, according to a press release issued by the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG). Potato area in EU-04 declines from 522.300 ha to 497.700 ha (-24.600 ha). There was a decrease in all countries, but most in Belgium and the Netherlands who had the highest increases in area these last years, with total plantings less than the 5 year average. This is a historical event.

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Post diquat: CAFRE, Grimme to host haulm flailing workshop for potato growers in Northern Ireland

Following the withdrawal of diquat last year, desiccation of potatoes has become more challenging. The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), with the support of Grimme, have organised a workshop at Greenmount Campus on Thursday 22nd July. The workshops will highlight how to set flailing machines correctly to provide a suitable target to apply the follow-up spray.

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Organic potato crops in the Netherlands hit hard by late blight

Organic potato crops have been hit by a blight which means this year’s harvest may be only a quarter of the normal yield, organic farmers trade organisation Bionext has said. Farmer Annewillem Maris from Dinteloord in Noord Brabant, who stands to lose some 30,000 kilos of potatoes, said the disease would be eradicated in a few years’ time when new, resistant varieties come in. ‘But for now I will lose a huge amount of money,’ he told broadcaster NOS.

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McCain Australia and New Zealand going green

McCain Foods has released its sustainability strategy that centres on a global commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent and move out of coal to renewable electricity by 2030. Agriculture Director for Australia and New Zealand, Rod McLaren, said he was excited the company was going green. “The spotlight has been put squarely on the challenges being posed by climate change and our fragile global food systems,” he said.

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Saving our soil: New microbial technologies that keep soil healthy and us fed

Soil microbes are hard to see and understand, yet we know that they have a significant impact on plant health, your health, and the Earth’s health. New microbial research and technologies are beginning to change how we understand and direct the soil microbiome to increase soil fertility and plant health, which then help our understanding of your microbiome. In an article published by Genetic Literacy Project, Lucy Stitzer discusses four examples of new technologies from specialist companies that make our soil healthier.

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The CORDA Invicta: A specialist fryer with exciting new features coming to market

Kiremko announces the launch of its new fryer – the CORDA Invicta. This specialist fryer is the result of two years of intensive research, continuous testing and consultation with customers, the company says. “Along with the STRATA Invicta steampeeler, Kiremko is proud to once again introduce a unique product in the processing marketplace,” notes Kiremko Director, Andy Gowing.

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