News October 2020

US: Northern Red River Valley potato growers hit with back-to-back harvest losses

The farmers whose crops were left unharvested were waiting for rain to soften the dirt lumps so they wouldn’t bruise the potatoes, The dry fall that resulted in ideal harvest conditions for most Red River Valley crops wreaked havoc on potatoes near Grand Forks grown for the fresh market.then temperatures dipped into the low double digits and froze

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McDonald’s fries sustain Kiwi potato growers after Covid-19 ‘floods of spuds’

Supplying McDonald’s with all their potatoes means a Canterbury grower has been able to avoid the worst effects of a Covid-19-inspired glut of overseas potatoes on the New Zealand market. Canterbury-based Hewson Farms produces around 22,000 tonnes of potatoes every year – 12,000 tonnes of which end up as McDonald’s fries. However, a 2.6 million tonne surplus of the vegetable in Europe – floods of spuds – is causing headaches for New Zealand growers and processors. “There has been an enormous glut of potatoes (in Europe) some of which found its way to markets here,” says the company’s owner Ross Hewson. While he says the impact is hard to gauge, the company is flagging a 10 per cent cut in planting this growing season.

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Kenya: Potato-legume intercropping can decrease soil erosion, improve moisture retention, boost yields

The potato-growing belts in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced steady increases in heat stress, irregular rainfall, persistent droughts, high soil erosion rates and recurrent floods. Researchers Nyawade Shadrack, Elke Vandamme, Michael Friedmann and Monica Parker report on two potential roles of potato-legume intercropping: (i) improved control of soil erosion to make potato production more sustainable in the highlands; and (ii) optimizing soil temperatures, soil water contents and soil nutrient balance thus enabling potato production in the drier midland agro-food systems.

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Yale and HZPC collaborate in quest for a better potato

Yale has a potato to call its own — two, in fact, and both varieties are already appearing in Yale dining halls, writes Brita Belli in a recent news article published by YaleNews. Through a partnership with Netherlands-based potato seed company HZPC, a Connecticut farm is growing special, nutrient-dense potatoes for the university that are tailor-made for the state’s climate and soil. The Jennifer potato, with its white skin and creamy texture, and the Maggie potato, with its yellow skin and buttery taste, are the first Yale-specific potatoes being grown from these seeds.

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Opinion: COVID-19 and global potato markets – Impact and consequences

The Coronavirus has had a major impact on the global potato industry since its discovery and spread earlier this year, writes Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets magazine. The crisis led to a 20 percent increase in household consumption of table potatoes in April-May in many countries. Trade in potatoes and potato products declined 3,4% to € 13,240 billion for the Northern Hemisphere from August 2019 to July 2020. The crisis has shown many buyers that potatoes are nutritious, versatile and a valuable food.

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Final Canadian crop report: Production well below average, but good harvest season

“As this final crop report of the season is prepared, potato harvest in Canada is complete in most provinces with the exception of Quebec,” says Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). He writes that growers are about 90% done, and hopefully should finish up by October 31 as the weather forecast improves from the wet and cold conditions experienced over the last couple of weeks. Based on what is known today, Canadian Potato Production is substantially below that of 2019 and below the 5-yr. average.

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Video: University of Idaho specialists conducting research projects on two seed potato viruses

Entomologists at the University of Idaho are leading ten state research projects focused on two viruses that can devastate seed potato farmers, according to a report by RFD-TV. In an interview with RFD-TV, Professor and project leader, Alexander Karasev says that one of their targets is potato mop-top virus, which has been found in six states. According to Karasev, “The second virus is potato virus Y. It can lead to a downgrade of seed potato loads, but also, a potato [infected with potato virus Y] may induce a disease which is called potato tuber necrotic ringspot disease, making fresh market tubers completely unusable.”

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‘The future is now’: Kiremko Remote Service starts up new Moroccan french fry line remotely

In a new milestone experience for both Kiremko and Moroccan potato processor Fun Fries, the new french fry line that was installed last summer was eventually started up entirely remotely using augmented reality. When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Kiremko’s engineers from boarding planes, a door was opened for a highly innovative solution that Kiremko developed: the Kiremko Remote Service. This service uses an advanced headset with camera, sound and monitor, an Internet connection and high-quality technicians on both sides of that connection.

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Arable Focus magazine: Latest issue now available online

Arable Focus is an arable magazine covering a variety of AHDB-funded activities. The autumn-winter issue of the magazine has been published and can now be downloaded online. Two articles of particular focus on the potato industry include: “An overview of the increasing use of precision technology for monitoring potato crop behaviour” and “A look at the importance of integrated potato store management to the future of your potatoes”.

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Yara podcast: ‘Changing the World Through Mineral Fertilizer’

Mineral fertilizers are the world’s most life-saving innovation. How this innovation has evolved since its invention? In this podcast, Yara’s Dr. Bill Easterwood, Director of Agronomic Services, Dr. Trey Cutts and Markus Braaten, Market Development Managers, join Scott Warr, Digital Farming Commercial Manager, to tell this amazing story – one that began with a dire problem and solved through collaboration between many individuals and companies.

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Belgapom announces major organizational changes going forward

Belgapom’s General Assembly decided to continue life as a non-profit organisation in future. In addition, a new board was elected. The new governing body extended Marc Van Herreweghe’s mandate as president. Romain Cools, outgoing secretary, was appointed acting CEO. Tom Vandenkendelaere informed the Belgapom president that he will not any longer accept the mandate to act as CEO of Belgapom.

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BASF Canada receives registration for new wireworm control products

BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions received registration for broflanilide, its newest active ingredient from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Broflanilide, the first IRAC Group 30 available in Canada, is an insecticide in two new unique products: Teraxxa F4 insecticide and fungicide for cereals and Cimegra for potatoes and corn. Both products will be available to Canadian growers for the 2021 season.

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UK: Late blight fungicide given emergency approval

The Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) has approved the use of Funguran Progress to control late blight in organic potato crops. The approval was granted on 10 July under an emergency use application made by AHDB last year. Growers in England are able to use the fungicide until 30 September 2020 and have until 31 October 2020 to dispose of stocks. Marketed in the UK by Certis Europe BV, Funguran Progress has an active ingredient of 537 g/Kg copper hydroxide.

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Study found that potato based diet does not disturb blood sugar control in diabetes

Researchers have found for the first time in a rigorously controlled clinical trial that people with diabetes don’t need to avoid potatoes. It is often said that potatoes with high glycemic index should be avoided by diabetics as they may adversely affect blood sugar. But the study indicates that glycemic index is not an accurate surrogate for an individual’s glycemic response (GR) to a food consumed as part of an evening meal. The researchers concluded that potatoes are a vegetable that is sustainable, affordable and nutrient-dense, and thus, they can play an important role in modern diets irrespective of metabolic health status.

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Scotts introduces conversion kit for the GRIMME GT 170 harvester

Scotts Precision Engineering in the UK has launched an innovative conversion kit that allows owners of the GRIMME GT 170 trailed harvester to convert seamlessly to a fully functioning windrower without modifications to the host machine. Designed in response to local growers where the Grimme GT170 is their preferred choice of harvester, the Scotts GT170 Windrower conversion kit directly replaces the elevator module. As the kit is attached to the harvester through existing elevator fixing points, there is no need to modify the host machine and thus can be returned to its original set up quickly.

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TOMRA Insight: Cloud-based service unlocks the power of big data to monitor food sorting processes

Following its successful launch last year by TOMRA Sorting Recycling, TOMRA Insight is now also being made available to TOMRA Mining customers, TOMRA Food and Compac, part of the TOMRA Food family. For all these industries, the platform is enhanced by new features and functionalities. TOMRA Insight turns sorting and grading machines into connected devices that generate valuable process data. This data is stored securely in the cloud, converted into actionable information, and accessible from anywhere via a web portal for desktop and mobile devices.

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Europatat welcomes new Technical Affairs Director

The European Potato Trade Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Romans Vorss as the new Technical Affairs Director of the Association, with effect as of today, 26 October 2020. Romans Vorss has an extensive professional experience of more than ten years in Brussels, where he has been promoting and defending the interests of member associations and trading companies active in the EU agri-food trade sector. On behalf of the Europatat Board, Europatat’s Secretary General, Berta Redondo Benito, has welcomed this new addition to the team.

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The Potato Field podcast: RJ Andrus of Idahoan Foods

RJ Andrus isn’t just in one potato field, he’s in many fields. As the senior manager of raw procurement for Idahoan Foods, Andrus works closely with contract growers to make sure there are always potatoes to process. He’s also a member of the National Potato Council’s executive committee. Andrus talks about his upbringing, challenges facing growers, his advocacy work and what it was like trying to find John Keeling’s replacement.

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India: Odisha government seeks renewal of agreement with International Potato Center

Even though the State Potato Mission failed to take off due to the lack of direction and apathy of the government to the project, the state government has expressed its desire to extend its contract with the International Potato Center (CIP) for intensification of potato production, according to report by The New Indian Express. CIP will provide technical support, including the introduction of early-maturing resilient potato varieties and agronomic practices assistance to improve the income of smallholder farmers and generate employment in the potato supply chain.

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CIP scientists developing digital tools to optimize irrigation water use in potato production

Potato has good potential to help the world meet that challenge, since it produces more calories per liter of water than other major staple crops. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) are trying to enhance that potential through the development of digital tools to optimize the use of water in irrigation. A team of researchers led by crop ecophysiologist David Ramírez has used a combination of conventional and thermal cameras to study how potato plants react to water stress. They also developed open-access software called Thermal Image Processor (TIPCIP) to analyze those images.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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