News June 2021

McCain Foods’ tech innovation in Australia reduces water use by more than 100,000 litres per day

McCain Foods has installed its proprietary world-leading, technology in the form of a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) generator, as part of the company’s latest upgrade to its Smithton plant in Tasmania, Australia. The PEF generator is another example of McCain’s commitment to producing more with less, as the $1.8 million project, which incorporates McCain’s proprietary technology, results in potatoes being pulsed with an electric field rather than steamed, slashing the plant’s energy and water usage.

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Clubhouse event: ‘French fries – Past, present and future’

French fries are one of the world’s favorite foods, with global consumption in the 10s of billions of pounds annually. Join the team at Farther Farms for a live Clubhouse chat on June 17 with industry experts to learn how the product we love is made, how it makes it to your plate, and areas of opportunity they see for growth in French fries globally.

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AHDB agrees a wind-down programme

The AHDB has announced a “managed wind-down” of its potatoes and horticulture work following industry votes to end statutory levies in the sectors – but growers will still have to fund the organisation during 2021-22. Funding will be provided for current research programmes to the end of contracts, and 42 of these contracts will end by March 2022. Otherwise all other activities for potatoes and horticulture during 2021-22 will be stopped at appropriate points in the growing season.

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McDonald’s french fries, carrots, onions: All of the foods that come from Bill Gates farmland

They own the soil where the potatoes in McDonald’s french fries grow, the carrots from the world’s largest producer and the onions that Americans sauté every night for dinner, according to this report by April Glaser for NBC. In Washington, the Gateses own more than 14,000 acres of farmland that includes potato fields so massive that they are visible from space and some of which are processed into french fries for McDonald’s.

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Europatat Congress 2021: A special and successful virtual event for the potato sector

On 10 June the European potato community virtually gathered for the Europatat Congress 2021. Under the slogan “Stay connected – new strategies for the potato sector”, the annual event organised by Europatat, which was this year open to all the potato supply chain, focused on the possibilities and challenges that digitalisation can offer to all-size companies in the sector.

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The Spornado: An alert system for late blight, other crop diseases

Spornado is an early alert system for late blight and other crop diseases, for growers that want to optimize their fungicide use. Currently, most potato growers don’t know when late blight is in their field until they see it and it is often too late, says 20/20 Seed Labs. Inc in a press release. The company says there is often a lot of guesswork involved for growers in anticipating when disease may strike and when to spray.

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Why potato sprout management now starts in the field

Potato storage experts and growers in Britain believe that sprout suppressant measures are best kicked off in the field following the loss of CIPC (chlorpropham), after seeing positive results from well-timed applications of maleic hydrazide (MH) last year. Many growers entered the current storage season with some trepidation, having based sprout control plans on products they had little or no experience using, such as mint oil or ethylene gas.

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Europatat, other EU ag associations on pesticide use, Farm to Fork strategy

Following the first anniversary of the publication of the Farm to Fork Strategy by the European Commission, Europatat and twelve other association members of the Agri-Food Chain Roundtable on Plant Protection have co-signed an open letter on the importance of carrying out a comprehensive assessment before making any decisions about the reduction of pesticide use, including the target for 50% reduction of the use of chemicals.

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‘Leading the resource revolution’: TOMRA announces new CEO

Norway-headquartered global sustainable technology company TOMRA Systems ASA says current president and CEO, Stefan Ranstrand, will be replaced by Tove Andersen by November 1 this year at the latest. Tove joins TOMRA from global agricultural products and environmental protection agents provider YARA International where she is currently executive vice president Europe.

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‘Farms of the Future’: McCain pledges to use only regeneratively-farmed potatoes by 2030

As part of today’s release of McCain’s 2020 Global Sustainability report the company is pledging that it will be implementing regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its global potato acreage by 2030. This transition will restore and protect soil health and quality and look to natural processes to control pests, prevent plant disease and strengthen crops against severe weather events.

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Certis USA rebrand to reflect biological crop protection solutions

Against the backdrop of 20 successful years as Certis USA, the company this week announced a brand change to Certis Biologicals. The company says in a press release that the new brand acknowledges the importance of biological-based crop inputs to farmers around the globe and cements the company’s legacy of leadership as manufacturer, supplier and innovator of biological crop protection solutions.

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Scottish potato growers quizzed ahead of levy body AHDB wind down

Scottish potato growers are being asked to share their views on the industry’s levy body – the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – before it winds down its operations. Farming union NFU Scotland (NFUS) and the Scottish Society of Crop Research (SSCR) have launched a survey asking growers to identify the most valued functions of AHDB. It follows a ballot on the future of a statutory levy for the potato sector, collected by AHDB, where 66.4% of potato businesses voted to stop their levy.

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Post-diquat: How an easy-to-use app can help with tight potato margins

At the sharp end of the season, potato maincrops might be increasing or decreasing in value by as much as £100/ha/day as yields increase and segment proportions change, writes Mike Abram in this article published by Farmers Weekly in the UK. Harvest too early and yields are unlikely to be maximised; harvest too late and a higher proportion of the crop might be oversized and subject to a lower price.

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Multi-year project in Maine to improve soil health, potato yield and quality

Good soil is fundamental to growing healthy, productive, and profitable crops. Jay Hao, Professor of Plant Pathology for the University of Maine, is working to reduce pathogens and improve soil health, by planting rotational crops after potatoes. “Because the tubers stay in the soil, you face a lot of soil borne pathogens. That can cause a lot of diseases. So instead of controlling one disease versus multiple, we do the integrated way by using different crops as a nutrient input and also as a disease suppression strategy.”

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Haith and Puffin Produce: Turnkey solution reduces water usage by 90%

Innovative thinking and automation have helped a Welsh company become one of the greenest fresh produce suppliers in the UK. In the last year, Puffin Produce has seen its water usage reduce by 90% and the electricity used to wash and polish its potatoes decrease by 40%. The impressive savings are due to a radical restructuring of its Withybush factory, which has seen four production lines replaced with two state-of-the-art lines by Haith Group.

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Potatoes USA looking for new Board Members

Potatoes USA announces nominations are now open for new Board Members for the 2022-2025 term. The board is seeking nominees to fill a total of 58 open seats for producers from several states in the U.S. All state potato organizations have received the information and materials to begin the process of seeking and nominating interested growers.

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Webinar: How to use artificial intelligence to quickly analyze data related to potato bruising and browning

During an upcoming webinar a team of researchers at JADBio will demonstrate how they applied the company’s Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) solution to quickly analyze a complex set of data during a recent project with different potato varieties. The researchers were able to successfully predict potatoes’ susceptibility to bruising as well as the potato samples’ potential for coloration during chip/crisp processing. The webinar will be presented by experts at JADBio, in partnership with Potato News Today. It is titled: “How to employ Automated Machine Learning to Predict the Best Quality Potato Chip/Crisp”.

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Wednesday humor: As for the Queen’s potatoes…

According to an article by Morgan Cutolo, published by Reader’s Digest, the Queen is privy to only the very best potatoes, to such an extent that every single one served to her is hand measured beforehand to ensure it’s suitable…

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Glass potatoes’ exhibition represents Irish potato famine suffering

A new exhibition featuring hundreds of glass potatoes to represent the suffering caused by the famine has opened in Ireland. The installation of 1,845 hand-blown glass potatoes is called ‘1845: Memento Mori’ and took 15 years to complete. 1845 is significant as it references the year that the potato blight came to Ireland, marking the beginning of a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. The exhibition, created by Seattle-based Irish artist Paula Stokes, kicks off a multi-venue tour over the next few years.

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‘Not for couch potatoes’: First-of-its-kind organic ‘Sport Spuds’ said to be a game-changer for athletes

Atlanta is now home to ‘Sport Spuds’ – a new woman-owned business founded by endurance athlete, entrepreneur and professional violinist, Alison James. Boasting the “power of the potato,” Sport Spuds and its first-of-its-kind organic sports nutrition product line mark the realization of a dream 12 years in the making. Boasting three simple ingredients, Sport Spuds are non-GMO, non-dairy, gluten free and vegan.

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Modern-day air systems for potato equipment: ‘Cushioning the blow’

Approximately 95 per cent of LOCKWOOD’s equipment uses an air system. The company utilizes air in planting, harvesting, and handling and cleaning equipment. Air systems offer growers many benefits. For example, they are gentler on potatoes than mechanical systems, they’re user-friendly and low maintenance as there are no moving parts involved but simply an air stream, and they’re accurate and efficient. There are a few other systems out there, but the most economical uses air.

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Meijer Potato installs Soil Scout sensors

In a first for Soil Scout in the UK, the company reports that Meijer Potato have recently installed Soil Scout sensors in various key locations around the country. This is the first growing season that Meijer will be monitoring underground soil conditions in their fields and Soil Scout is extremely proud that they have chosen the Soil Scout solution to provide this highly beneficial data.

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Tesco Ireland unveils first fully recyclable packaging trial for new season potatoes

Tesco has become the first retailer in Ireland to make its packaging for 1kg new season potatoes fully recyclable while also reducing the amount of paper used in its 2.5kg potato packaging. This step change on packaging will commence on a 12-week trial basis in 100 stores, with plans to roll out the changes to more products if successful. As one of Ireland’s favourite grocery items, this change will have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste.

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Spray coverage crucial in crusade against blight, says potato specialists

With resistance to fluazinam now established in the blight populations in the UK and a continuing shift towards more aggressive P. infestans populations such as 36_A2 and 37_A2, a robust resistance management strategy is essential to safeguard crops. SRUC specialist in blight epidemiology Dr. Ruairidh Bain, believes that spray coverage is one of the key factors of the blight control programme that needs to be improved to protect potato crops.

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Lockwood Mfg

JADBio Webinar

Urschel

Spornado

FAM Stumabo