News May 2021

Using cutting-edge science to protect African farmers’ potato crops, incomes, and food security

In a blog post on Global Food for Thought, guest authors Chris Kennedy and Bob Easter examine how a collaborative effort to bring a disease-resistant potato variety to market in Africa can promote global food security. It has to start with good seed, they write. Their seed has to have the genetic traits to not only produce more grain or fruit or tubers, but it also has to have the traits that make the plant resistant to the crops’ natural enemies and climate threats.

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Parts of Ireland issued with potato blight warning

Multiple counties in Ireland have been issued with a potato blight warning as the changeable weather threatens crops. Ireland’s national meteorological service, Met Éireann, issued the environmental warning yesterday, Thursday 27 May. The environmental warning, which warns that “weather conditions conducive to the spread of potato blight”, is expected to affect early sown crops, the service announced.

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Why an integrated approach is key to tackling potato virus Y threat

Potato Virus Y is dealt with by a zero-tolerance policy at Albanwise Farming in North Yorkshire in the UK, where the specialist operation has 40ha of processing ware and 360ha of seed potatoes in the ground for 2021, consisting of 31 different varieties. “It has to be a belt and braces approach, but it doesn’t have to be all about insecticides. There are other ways to keep the guard up and we are making use of a whole range of techniques,” says Tom England, the company’s seed potato production manager.

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North America shines green to promote plant health

The United States, Canada, and Mexico recently dazzled North Americans with a green light celebration of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH), writes Greg Rosenthal in this USDA/APHIS news release. In April, the countries partnered to illuminate Niagara Falls in green. At the same time, they lit up iconic national buildings and monuments. These illuminations brought attention to the importance of plants to life on Earth and the need to protect plant health. The U.N. declared 2020 IYPH and extended the celebration through July 1, 2021.

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£2 million pandemic support package for potato growers in Northern Ireland

New details of a £2 million Covid-19 support scheme for potato growers in Northern Ireland impacted by the pandemic has been announced. They must complete an online Expression of Interest form by 11 June to register for the scheme and request an inspection of all potatoes held in their stores. The financial support package comes in response to the significant reduction in demand for potatoes from the hospitality and food service sector.

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Sad news: The passing of former World Potato Congress Director

It is with a heavy heart that the World Potato Congress has learned of the passing of former World Potato Congress Director and International Advisor, Ron Gall. President Romain Cools stated: “Ron was dedicated to the potato industry and in helping to make the World Potato Congress Inc. the world renowned organization that it is today. After 13 years of involvement with the World Potato Congress Inc., seven as an International Advisor and six as a Director, his commitment and loyalty to WPC will be long remembered.

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UPGC reports on Canadian potato crop progress, upcoming Crop Transition Conference

Potato growers everywhere always look forward to cleaning off the slate and starting a new crop, says the general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), Kevin MacIsaac, in the latest potato crop update for Canada. MacIsaac notes that planting in Western Canada is winding up, while growers in the Atlantic region are in full planting mode. He also reports details on the upcoming Crop Transition Conference, to be held on Monday, June 14th beginning at 1:00 CDT in Fargo, North Dakota.

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How to become a ‘potato grad’: Potatoes USA explains

Potatoes USA’s complimentary online curriculum, “Potato University”, is designed for busy foodservice professionals who want to learn more about how to incorporate all types of potatoes – from fresh, to frozen, to dehydrated—into the menu. These online classes are an excellent resource packed with valuable potato insights, and they can be taken any time at one’s own pace. “Anyone interested in learning more about U.S. potatoes can take this self-paced course,” explains Kendra Keenan, Global Marketing Manager, Foodservice at Potatoes USA.

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Webinar: The future of commercial potato storage in the UK – experts discuss energy and costs

What is the future of commercial potato storage in the UK? AHDB will gather a panel of experts on Tuesday, 1 June to discuss this matter during a webinar. The panel will be looking at what it costs to store potatoes in 2021, how it can be done more efficiently and take a look at the most important consideration for any business: the bottom line. Topics include energy efficiency, other storage costs and return on investment.

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Blight fungicide and application trials at Eurofins

Michael Tait, Syngenta Technical Manager and Harry Fordham, Syngenta New Farming Technologies Lead present the 2020 Syngenta trials at Eurofins in this video published on the SyngentaUK YouTube channel. Tait and Fordham report on blight fungicide activity and new application advice for the Syngenta 3D90 nozzle, delivering outstanding efficacy, along with 90% drift reduction.

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Canada backs down from full imidacloprid ban, but adds restrictions

Canada’s pesticide regulator said last week that farmers could keep using the chemical imidacloprid to control crop-destroying insects under stricter conditions, softening an earlier proposal to ban it. Farmers use imidacloprid to protect fruits and vegetables from aphids and beetles. The PMRA stated on May 19 that in-furrow application for root and tuber vegetables, including potatoes, was cancelled. This was due to the maximum application rate being reduced to 100 g a.i./ha. Potato foliar applications have been reduced to one per season.

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Leadership Institute Alumni Summit: ‘Good leaders never stop learning’

The Leadership Institute Alumni Summit, July 13-15, will bring together US Potato Industry Leadership Institute graduates to network, refresh skills, and learn new techniques to better position themselves for success in the potato industry. All past graduates of the Institute are invited to participate in the three 90-minute workshops that will be active, engaging, fast-paced, high energy and packed with tips to put to use immediately.

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The ‘touchy-feely’ potato: Researchers developed bio-sensor to detect early signs of plant stress

In an effort to increase agricultural productivity and limit waste, a team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment developed a method to detect signs of stress before potato plants are damaged. By employing genetic engineering, the team introduced a new gene coded to a fluorescent protein that reports the level of reactive ‘oxygen specieses’ – highly reactive molecules whose accumulation signifies stress responses.

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Lamb Weston announces Chief Financial Officer succession

Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced today that Robert McNutt has shared his intent to retire from his position as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company effective August 6, 2021. Bernadette Madarieta, Vice President and Controller, will succeed Mr. McNutt as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective August 6, 2021. Ms. Madarieta will report to Tom Werner, Lamb Weston’s President and CEO.

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Export enthusiasm tempered: U.S.-Mexico potato battle takes another turn

The excitement that U.S. potato growers felt following an April 28 decision by the Mexican Supreme Court to open up that entire nation to fresh potato exports from the United States has been blunted somewhat. According to leaders of the Idaho and U.S. potato industries, the group that represents Mexico’s potato industry could be attempting to throw up a roadblock that could slow down or potentially stop the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes into all of Mexico.

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Crop4Sight releases innovative irrigation scheduling tool

Crop4Sight’s online and mobile digital toolkit is designed to help growers maximise saleable potato yields and was launched as a commercial service in 2020. With a strong research and development pipeline, Crop4Sight is pleased to announce the release of its easy to use potato irrigation scheduling tool. The new irrigation schedule tool uses a state-of-the-art potato specific water balance model. The tool delivers convenient irrigation schedules whenever a grower requires them.

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‘Native potatoes: From forgotten crop to culinary boom and market innovation’

Once neglected by urban consumers, Andean native potatoes are now essential ingredients for some of the most sophisticated gastronomy of the world, according to the authors of this article, published in Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues. André Devaux, Guy Hareau, Miguel Ordinola, Jorge Andrade-Piedra, and Graham Thiele write, “from colored chips to delicacy vegetables and even liquors, new products are making their way into high-income market niches.”

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British potato industry to miss out on important information reports as AHDB ceases publication

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK announced on Friday that its Market Intelligence department’s provision of potato price information will cease on Friday 2nd July 2021. The final Weekly Average Price Survey (WAPS) will be published on Tuesday 29th June, and the final Potato Weekly on Friday 2nd July. AHDB says in a news release that several other market information reports will also not be published any more in future.

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Yummy: How potatoes are eaten in 28 countries around the world

Humans have been cultivating potatoes for 10,000 years. Beginning in South America in 8000 BC, potatoes have taken root in almost every culture on the planet. A super-versatile vegetable, potatoes can be found in Belgium’s salty, crispy fries; Indonesia’s sweet and spicy sambal goreng kentang; and Ecuador’s fluffy, cheesy llapingacho. From pairings with fried onions and red chilies in Bangladesh to cheese curds and gravy in Canada, potatoes are part of diets across the globe.

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Syngenta publishes ‘Potato Agronomy Guide 2021’ for British growers

Syngenta in the UK recently published its annual agronomy advice guide with tips and recommendations suited for potato growers in the UK. Some of the topics discussed in the guide include: Soil pest management, nematicide stewardship, seed and soil pathogens, maintaining blight protection, biostimulant benefit from Syngenta science research, and more.

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Pakistani research facility produces disease free nuclear potato seed to boost production, self sufficiency

The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council has produced 150,000 nuclear potato tubers, which would help in producing over 50,000 tones of certified seed to help with boosting yields and the availability of disease free potato seed in the country. This milestone was achieved after the commercialization of potato tissue culture technology. The seed will now be provided to the private sector and individual growers to multiply the seed on their own for commercial production.

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European potato outlook: Planted area expected to be down, processors anticipate increased demand

As plantings for the 2021 potato crop in North-western Europe is wrapping up, the NEPG reports that the final planted potato area within the NEPG region (EU-4) will most likely be reduced by 3 to 5 percent. The so-called EU-4 countries include the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. NEPG says this is an absolutely historical event. The free market is in a bullish mood, as processors expect some kind of boom or at least an increase in demand in the coming weeks and months.

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AVR’s Ceres 440 gathers planting data from Potato Europe demo fields

Last month, equipment manufacturer AVR provided one of its newest, cloud connected Ceres 440 planters to the Potato Europe organisation to plant the demo fields for the coming Potato Europe 2021 event in Lelystad, the Netherlands. The four-row 440 planter neatly planted the trial plots under the watchful eye of the Noordoostpolder mayor, sending its real-time planting information live to the digital AVR Connect platform.

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New Lamb Weston plant expansion to result in more contracted potato acres

An expansive new addition to the Lamb Weston plant in American Falls will produce chopped and formed products such as potato patties and potato puffs, according to a corporate press release. The new facility will commence with production in early 2022. American Falls potato farmer Kamren Koompin said the plant expansion should also result in more contracted potato acres, providing an outlet for using undersized spuds that don’t the make the grade for other uses.

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Tyrrells Crisps set to reduce carbon emissions by over 14% with switch to liquefied natural gas

One of the UK’s largest potato crisp manufacturers, Tyrrells, has taken its latest step in a continued sustainability drive by converting its energy supply to liquefied natural gas (LNG) which will reduce its carbon emissions by over 14% per year. Tyrrells produces over 86 million bags of crisps every year. With high energy demands to consider, the company wanted to find a way of increasing efficiencies in order to lower its carbon footprint.

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Frito-Lay consumer snacking poll: Memorial Day kicks off an anticipated ‘breakout summer’

Memorial Day on May 31 in the US is expected to kick off an anticipated ‘breakout summer’ as consumers catch up on activities they missed out on last year, and however and wherever consumers are celebrating, snacks will be plentiful, Frito-Lay says in a press release. Frito-Lay’s latest U.S. Snack Index, a poll focused on consumers’ snacking habits, found that eight in 10 indicated they plan many activities outside the house during Memorial Day.

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Potato cultivation in Peru creates 34 million daily wages for small family farming producers

Potato cultivation has become a notable driver of regional and local economy in the potato producing areas in Peru. It generates intensive labor in Peru, which means around 34 million daily wages per season for small family farming producers, the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Midagri) reported. “Although potato cultivation generates more than 110,000 fixed or permanent jobs, the most remarkable aspect is the creation of the intensive temporary jobs nationwide,” Midagri’s potato chain specialist Juan Miguel Quevedo says.

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