News July 2021

Indian scientists developed smartphone app to help potato farmers detect late blight disease

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed a smartphone app for automated disease detection in potato crops using photographs of its leaves. “Automated disease detection can help in this regard and given the extensive proliferation of the mobile phones across the country, the smartphone could be a useful tool for potato farmers in this regard,” said Mr. Joe Johnson, Research Scholar, IIT Mandi.

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National Potato Council welcomes Program Coordinator

The National Potato Council today welcomed Ethan Keller to serve as the organization’s Program Coordinator. The recent Ohio State University graduate will support the execution and implementation of NPC’s programs to engage and inform its membership. “We are excited to have Ethan join our team,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles.

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How to fertilise a potato crop: An African experience

Potato yields are highly-dependent on fertilizer use, but pinpointing the amount of fertilizer to be used can be a challenge, especially for smallholder farmers in Africa. This challenge is important in Rwanda where average potato yields are currently 8-10 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), compared to the 25-35 t/ha they might expect with improved potato varieties, better pest and disease management, and enhanced extension services and fertilizer use. 

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‘A seedy affair’: UK’s Defra ends seed potato deadlock

Scottish potato growers have welcomed the decision of the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to implement a reciprocal ban on EU imports of seed potatoes. EU seed potatoes are now banned from entering Great Britain, after having been granted a six-month passage by the UK Government, when talks between both sides failed to agree on equivalence post-Brexit, writes Claire Taylor in this news story published by The Scottish Farmer.

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The future is here: Drones to help with potato farming in Latvia

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, are already used in many areas, but it appears that they may also be assistants in potato cultivation, as researchers from Vidzeme university claim. Initial studies are being carried out, Latvian Radio reports. Vidzeme High School’s scientific assistant, Andis Lapāns, has launched an unmanned aircraft over the potato field of the Priekuļi Research Centre, which will provide detailed information about the crop in the field.

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‘New plants for carbon farming’: Can breeders actually do it?

As agriculture looks to better farming practices to sequester more carbon, breeders look to make new crops to help, writes SeedWorld’s Joe Funk in this article. “Carbon sequestration”, he says, “it’s a buzzword that’s slowly trickling down into agriculture practices. But how could breeding for carbon farming actually help the industry?”

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World Potato Congress appoints CEO of Potatoes South Africa as International Advisor

The World Potato Congress Inc.’s (WPC) Board of Directors announced this week the appointment of Willie Jacobs as its newest International Advisor from South Africa. Mr Jacobs is serving as CEO of Potatoes South Africa. Romain Cools, President & CEO of World Potato Congress Inc.: “We are very pleased to welcome Willie Jacobs to the World Potato Congress Inc.’s International Advisor group. Mr. Jacobs will be a great asset to WPC.”

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USTR pushes Mexico for biotech approvals, potato access

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told Mexican government officials Wednesday that the country needs to resume its stalled process of approving genetically modified crops and pressed for an update on the country’s progress on increasing access for U.S. potatoes. Separately, National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles tells Agri-Pulse he’s pleased Tai is pressing Mexican officials on allowing more U.S. spuds into the country.

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New Zealand’s unique potatoes: The ‘taewa’

They might look like small, purple potatoes, but “taewa” are so much more. Taewa come in every shape, and a multitude of colours. There are taewa with dark brown skins and purple inside; pale white inside, and golden yellow outside; maroon red skins, and orange inside. They’re similar, but also quite different, to what you’d find piled at most supermarkets in New Zealand.

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Side Delights’ gourmet petite potatoes: Create restaurant-worthy meals without the cost

Side Delights offers solutions for shoppers who want to continue eating at home with an elevated dining experience. “Increased family time, convenience, and cost-savings are some of the reasons that consumers have traditionally chosen to stay in and eat at home,” noted Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. Side Delights’ line of Gourmet Petites potatoes is for shoppers seeking potatoes similar to those found in fine-dining restaurants.

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Brexit fightback: UK bans EU seed potato imports in snub at Brussels

A trade row between Brussels and London threatened to erupt tonight after UK ministers banned the import of seed potatoes from EU countries in a victory for Scottish farmers. Defra restricted the imports of seed potatoes from the European Union after deciding not to renew a six-month authorisation. Scottish farming chiefs welcomed the news and claimed any extension to the grace period had the potential to “devastate” the industry.

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Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research: What next?

In this AHDB Food & Farming podcast episode, Jimmy Phillips interviews Rob Clayton, AHDB Sector Strategy Director for Potatoes, to discuss how the planned wind down and transition of AHDB Potatoes activities will impact potato storage research. The voting outcome of the recent ballot on the statutory levy in potatoes means that research activity at the centre will stop this autumn.

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Wolds Produce acquires leading potato seed supplier

Wolds Produce Ltd, based in Pocklington near York in the UK, has completed the acquisition of WM Quarrie (Potato Marketing) Ltd, for an undisclosed sum. Wolds Produce was established in 2004 by Simon Tootell and local farmer Simon Foster. It was set up as a potato trading business offering crops from the York area to packers; and the company has grown to become a major potato supplier into the crisping, chipping, ware, and seed industries across the whole of the UK.

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The pathogen with a ‘sharp knife’: Researchers discover how late blight enters plants

It has long been a mystery how this microscopically small organism and other members of the Phytophthora genus mechanically gain entry through the protective layer on the leaves of crops. In a unique collaboration, Wageningen University & Research experts in plant pathology, cell biology and physics have now found an answer to this question. Their discovery also provides new leads to making the control of Phytophthora more effective, more efficient and more sustainable on the long term.

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Post-Brexit seed potato deal with EU still deadlocked

Defra’s decision not to extend the derogation which allowed seed potatoes from Europe into the UK while Scottish growers were banned by the EU from trade in the opposite direction has been widely welcomed in the sector. But while the “both ways or no ways” decision on such trade might help stave off short-term disaster within the Scottish seed sector, commentators feel it will do little to restart the trade.

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Sampling methods and data analysis key to effective assessment, says Canadian crop insect expert

Crop insect guru Dan Johnson spoke about the importance of good sampling techniques at the Farming Smarter summer Field School in Alberta recently. Johnson, who is a pioneer in the field of crop insect forecasting and a world respected specialist in grasshoppers and potato psyllids in particular, said the key to good assessment within a farmer’s field is understanding the difference between “accuracy” and “precision.”

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EMVE: Potato and vegetable processing machines manufactured for a sustainable future

EMVE Sweden AB is a developer, manufacturer and supplier of machines for handling potatoes, vegetables and fruit. EMVE provides its customers with everything from deliveries of self-manufactured and newly developed machines to external manufacturers from the head office and production facility in south Sweden. The company also offers customers the opportunity for the design and tailor production of processing lines according to their wishes.

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Dutch farmers planted less ware potatoes, slightly more seed and starch potatoes

This year, the total cultivation area for ware potatoes in the Netherlands has declined by nearly 5 thousand ha (6.5 percent) to 72 thousand ha. It also declined in 2020. Areas in use for seed and starch potatoes have increased slightly over the past twelve months, by nearly 1 percent each. The share of seed and starch potatoes in the total potato cultivation area has continued to rise slightly over the past year.

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New discovery to have a profound impact on potato breeding

Researchers at the hybrid potato breeding company Solynta and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have identified, cloned and characterized the gene for self-compatibility in potatoes called “Sli”. This discovery will have a profound impact on potato breeding. With Sli defined, breeders can implement hybrid breeding which will allow for faster and focused rather than opportunistic breeding. The technique could also help to quickly develop new potato varieties that are adapted to local conditions such as drought or flooding.

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Survey: European farmers view climate change as main challenge for future potato production

Europatat is part of an international consortium involved in the research project ADAPT (“Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”), which aims to develop new strategies for making potatoes fit for the challenging production conditions of the future. ADAPT asked farmers about their perception of climate change, their experiences concerning its impact on potato production, and their need for adapted potato varieties. Almost 90% of the survey respondents indicated that climate change had affected their potato production in the last 10 years, and almost 50% defined climatic change as a threat to maintain potato production at their farms.

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Turning the page on 2020 good for potato growers, says industry leader

2021 is a new year for potato growers, and that’s a good thing. “Most growers are pretty happy to have last year behind them,” said Mark Klompien, president and CEO of the United Potato Growers of America. Challenges of the COVID-10 pandemic for growers included the ups and downs of the demand side of the equation, both in the fresh and processed sectors.

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Putting waste to work: Bacterial film made from potato processing plants’ waste used to strengthen soils

Washington State University researchers have used granules made from potato processing plants’ waste bacteria to strengthen soil, offering a new alternative to cement additives that are currently used to shore up soils for building and erosion control. The researchers added the granules containing a bacterial slime – called a biofilm – to the soil, allowing a more natural and less carbon-intensive way to strengthen the soils.

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Old foe, new information: Alternaria monitoring indicates application timing

Results of last season’s Syngenta alternaria monitoring in British potato crops has further reinforced the pattern of earliest infection from A. alternata, with A. solani typically coming into crops later in the season. The monitoring is undertaken by independent and industry potato agronomists sampling suspected cases throughout the season, with laboratory analysis by NIAB specialists to determine the species of alternaria (early blight) present.

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