News November 2020

‘Agronomy Week’ will see the launch of the new Potato Variety Comparison Tool and more

The AHDB hosted Agronomy Week will run as a virtual conference from Monday 30 November to Friday 4 December in the UK. It will comprise a series of webinars aimed at agronomists on important issues in contemporary agronomy. Monday and Tuesday will be devoted to cereals and oilseeds During the rest of the week, the event will focus on the potato industry. The new Potato Variety Comparison Tool will be launched on Wedneday.

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Bad news for the Canadian potato industry: Potato wart confirmed in Prince Edward Island fields

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of potato wart in two fields on a farm in Prince Edward Island (PEI), according to a pest report issued today by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). According to the report, the CFIA has placed the fields under quarantine and is carrying out official control measures under the authority of the federal Plant Protection Act and Plant Protection Regulations.

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Canadian researcher in pursuit of finding potatoes that are resistant to disease, drought and greening

A Prince Edward Island-based Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researcher, Dr. Bourlaye Fofana, grows 814 different genetic lines of potatoes in fields at AAFC’s Harrington Research Farm, all in pursuit of finding potatoes that are resistant to disease, drought and greening. Dr. Fofana is working to develop potato varieties that are resistant to common scab disease, making crops more plentiful and profitable and providing blemish-free produce for consumers around the world.

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MSU’s Natalie Kaiser: Harnessing the power of potatoes, through plant breeding innovation

Natalie Kaiser’s love for plants started as a child growing up around her parents’ organic greenhouse business in upstate New York. She did her undergrad studies in plant science with dreams of starting a career in farm management; but after taking a few courses in genetics, she found her true passion in plant breeding. A PhD candidate at Michigan State University (MSU), Natalie specializes in potatoes – in particular, looking at which genes make certain potatoes naturally resistant to a troublesome potato pest known as the Colorado potato beetle.

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Leading Australian potato and vegetable grower Renee Pye joins AUSVEG Board

AUSVEG, Australia’s peak industry body for the vegetable and potato industries, has announced the appointment of Renee Pye from South Australia as a Grower Director on its Board. Renee will replace vegetable grower Danny De Ieso, who is stepping down after serving over six years on the AUSVEG Board. Renee is the Marketing Manager for leading potato, carrot and onion packhouse Zerella Fresh, which is one of the largest producers in South Australia.

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Recording of Potato Soil Health webinar now online

This winter AHDB in the UK is running its Potato Soil Health Campaign – part of the Great Soils Programme. The goal of this campaign is to encourage potato growers to reconsider their current practice when it comes to soil health. You can now watch a re-recording of the AHDB hosted soil health webinar – ‘Potato Soil Health – Why bother?’ online. The webinar was hosted live by AHDB on 19 November.

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Leading US potato processor chooses Tong for advanced grading and washing

A custom-built potato grading and washing solution from Tong Engineering has enabled a leading US potato processor to increase sizing potential of both dirty and washed crop, whilst maximising efficiency and minimising waste across its entire potato processing operation. Based in Warden, in Washington State, Skone & Connors Produce, Inc. grows over 2,500 acres of fresh potatoes for Basin Gold, their sales and marketing group.

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Production estimate: British potato production up despite tough year

The 2020 lifting window has come with its own challenges for the British potato industry, but relative to 2019 it’s certainly been more straightforward for most. As at 10 November 2020, it was estimated that just 2% of the planted area was yet to be lifted. This compares with 11% of the crop estimated to be unlifted as at 12 November 2019. The first official GB production estimate is 5.3Mt. This is based on 75% of the sample and will be updated.

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Brexit race on for British seed potato sector

The UK potato industry has been left in no doubt about the frustrations, fears and risk attached to trading high value Scottish seed potatoes as the clock ticks down to a possible no-deal Brexit. With just five weeks left until current trading conditions change forever, Sandy McGowan of Milnathort-based seed export company Cygnet PEP gave delegates at the AHDB’s virtual potato conference his personal perspective of the looming cliff edge that threatens the industry on December 31.

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How the most popular potato in the US reached its status

Carrie Huffman Wohleb writes in an article for Growing Produce that although it wasn’t an immediate success, the ‘Russet Burbank’ cultivar now accounts for about 40% of the U.S. potato acreage. It originates from a seed collected from an ‘Early Rose’ potato plant that Luther Burbank planted in 1872. Many decades later, a natural genetic mutant (a chimera) of the original Burbank with russet skin became the Russet Burbank we know today.

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Leading Scottish scientist recognised for lifetime of service to potato industry

Scottish scientist Professor Ian Toth has received this year’s prestigious British Potato Industry Lifetime Award. Professor Toth is the director of Scotland’s Plant Heath Centre at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, where he has been undertaking plant health research for over 25 years, which brought him into regular contact with UK and devolved governments, the public and industry to whom he regularly presents his work.

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Canada: P.E.I. Potato Board elects new executive

The P.E.I. Potato Board has a new executive. During the board of director’s Nov. 20 meeting, it was decided that Jason Hayden will continue in the role of chairman, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper. The new vice-chairman is Wayne Townshend of Fortune Bridge. John Hogg from Summerside will continue in the role of secretary-treasurer. Three new directors were also appointed

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‘TOMRA Visual Assist’ – the new augmented reality tool – mobilizes TOMRA’s global expertise

TOMRA Visual Assist is TOMRA Food’s new Augmented Reality tool that enables remote experts to provide specialist support to a customer or a TOMRA Field Service Engineer on-site – just as if they were standing in front of the machine. It enables TOMRA to solve a broader range of problems of varying degrees of complexity remotely. The result is more uptime and better machine performance for the customers.

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Video: Australian potato grower speaks out about the health benefits of potatoes

In this video, Kerri Ann Lamb tells the story of her family’s potato-growing business at Wickham Farms, Killarney, Queensland in Australia. Kerri is fourth fourth generation potato farmer. Says Kerri: “Our potatoes are planted in October, so they’ll be ready to harvested in February. It will be harvested and sent to the pack house in February and they’ll be sold fresh n supermarkets as brushed potatoes as well.

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Glyphosate extension to December 2025 likely in Britain

According to a Farmer Weekly news report issued earlier today, the widely used herbicide glyphosate is likely to have its authorisation expiry date extended until 15 December 2025 in Great Britain after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December. According to the report, Darren Flynn, head of active substances delivery for the Chemical Regulation Division (CRD), explained that all active substances due to expire between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2023 would be granted a three-year extension under the new GB pesticides regulation regime.

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First potato production estimate for the UK higher – despite reduced planted area

The 2020 lifting window has come with its own challenges, but relative to 2019 it’s certainly been more straightforward for most, according to an AHDB report by Alice Bailey. As at 10 November 2020, it was estimated that just 2% of the planted area was yet to be lifted. This compares with 11% of the crop estimated to be un-lifted as at 12 November 2019. The first official GB production estimate is 5.3Mt.

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Ukraine imports ‘cheap’ potatoes from Poland and the Netherlands

Ukraine has reportedly started to import potatoes from Poland, where prices fell sharply due to a significant reduction in consumption by the European segment of HoReCa. This was announced by the President of the Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Association (UPOA), Taras Bashtannyk, according to “ProAgro Group” with reference to AgroTimes. “We have been importing products from Russia and Belarus for two years now, and this year, at the beginning of summer, we started importing potatoes from the Netherlands and now imports from Poland have also started,” Bashtannyk said.

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TOMRA Food and Ortofrutticola Parma: Selected quality, from the earth to the table

Ortofrutticola Parma has operated a TOMRA sorting machine since 2008 on its potato selection line, where it has processed about 180,000 tons of the company’s flagship product every year. When the time came this year to find a replacement machine that would continue to meet the need for superior tuber production, the company turned once again to TOMRA Food. The solution, which the company put into service at the beginning of May, was a new Sentinel II.

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Dewulf launches the Enduro, their new 4-row self-propelled harvester

Dewulf, full-liner in machines for the cultivation of potatoes and root crops, proudly present their new 4-row self-propelled sieving harvester: the Enduro. This new harvester on tyres is intended for growers and agricultural contractors that harvest potatoes. The Enduro combines new harvesting technologies with existing, proven technologies. The result is a powerful harvester that excels in product-friendliness, capacity and ease[Read More…]

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German potato producers expand acreage due to ‘lack of a good alternative’

Few industries have been so affected by the Corona pandemic as the potato industry. From the hoarding in spring to the sales problems with peeled potatoes in the wake of the current lockdown closure of restaurants and other eateries. The year 2020 was without doubt a remarkable marketing year for the German potato industry. Volker Peters – Managing Director of Helle Niedersachsen – looks back on the year and reflects on the future.

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‘The Potato Field’ podcast: Ben and Alison Sklarczyk on tissue culture and seed potato production

‘The Potato Field’ is an initiative of Spudman magazine in the US. In the latest episode, Ben and Alison Sklarczyk discuss the process of producing plants in their tissue culture lab and then greenhouse before they reach field seed potatoes in disease-free and sterile condition, as well as their recent expansion, trends in seed potatoes and balancing family with their demanding business.

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COVID-19 and too much rain: A Florida farmer’s challenges mirror those that other farmers face

It’s been a year since First Coast News started following a local farmer, sharing with you his successes and struggles. When they started this story, First Coast News had no idea the troubles farmers would face because of a pandemic. This is the final installment in this story, showing how the weather is an age-old challenge for farmers and how Covid is something new. With a thousand acres of potatoes, spuds are the main source of income for the Jones family in Florida.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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