News September 2020

Postponed: World Potato Congress and Europatat events in Ireland postponed to 2022 due to pandemic crisis

Due to the pandemic and for the safety of participants, it is with great reluctance that the three organisations World Potato Congress Inc., Europatat and the Irish Potato Federation, jointly announce today the postponement of the World Potato Congress (WPC) and the Europatat Congress planned for May/June in Dublin in 2021. Originally scheduled for 31st May – 3rd June 2021, the WPC will now take place on 30th May – 2nd June 2022. As previously planned, the WPC will be preceded by the Europatat Congress – which will take place from 29th- 30th May 2022.

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McCain Foods resumes $300 million plant expansion in Washington State

McCain Foods will resume construction this month of a $300 million expansion at its french fry plant in Othello, Wash., the company announced, according to a report by Matthew Weaver, Field Reporter for Capital Press in Spokane, Washington State in the US in this article. “We are excited to resume construction on the 170,000 square-foot expansion of the Othello plant, where McCain Foods has operated for over 31 years,” Paolo Picchi, regional president, said in a company press release. “This expansion will increase production capacity through the addition of a new state-of-the art french fry processing line, bring new jobs to the community and require approximately 11,000 additional acres, sourced from local potato growers in the region.”

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Ireland: End of the road for diquat on potato farms

Irish potato growers have been handed a minor reprieve from the EU’s campaign to reduce use of pesticides by 50%. Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has granted a temporary, once-off and short term emergency authorisation for diquat, writes Stephen Cadogan in a report for the Irish Examinar. He writes that diquat has been the most commonly used desiccant in the potato sector for many decades. It is no longer approved for use as a plant protection product within the EU, he says. However, to facilitate industry transition and to support growers as they move to other methods of dessicating potato crops, Minister McConalogue granted a derogation.

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Hold on to your wallet, guys: The world’s most expensive potato chips will run you $15 a chip

The Swedish brewery St. Eriks has a unique set of potato chips that are — as far as we know — the most expensive potato chip in the world. The chips were created to draw attention for charity donations, Moss and Fog reports. A bag of potato chips is one of the cheapest snacks you can buy. Unless you opted for the extremely limited edition set of chips from Swedish Brewery St. Eriks, boxed in an absurdly fancy package, made from absurdly special ingredients.

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UK: Improved ‘Safe Haven’ standards provide added protection for British seed potato exports

The certification scheme, ‘Safe Haven’, has recently been reviewed and updated to cover areas such as closer monitoring of water use and crop storage, AHDB says in a news release published yesterday. Administered by Red Tractor, the UK’s largest food standards scheme, Safe Haven protects against any pest or disease that can be imported or introduced by seed, AHDB says. The seed potato sector is important for the British potato industry as a whole as seed potatoes are a valuable export commodity.

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Aussies ‘up in arms’: Tasmanian supermarkets will not stock imported potatoes

Tasmanian supermarkets have thrown support behind the state’s potato producers, confirming they will not stock imported potatoes, according to a report by Caitlin Jarvis published by The Examiner in Australia. Caitlin reports that a conditional import licence was approved in June for South Australian company Mitolo Group to import fresh potatoes into Tasmania. However, the products will not end up on supermarket shelves. Coles, Woolworths, and Island Fresh, which operates the IGA chain of independent supermarkets, on Monday confirmed they would not stock the imported SA potatoes in Tasmania.

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Red hot potato market could spell trouble for farmers in India

Potato prices in India started rising in December 2019 due to the delay in harvesting the early rabi crop, according to an article by Samarendu Mohanty, Asia Regional Director of the International Potato Center (CIP). In a recent news article published on the CIP website, Mr Mohanty wtires that although prices fell a bit in February and March with the arrival of the new harvest, they have remained higher than average during the same period in previous years due to less area planted, lower yields and transportation issues.

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Study shows more US households are purchasing potatoes

Fresh potato sales increased significantly from July 2019 through June 2020, and so did the number of households buying potatoes, according to a news release issued by Potatoes USA. The organization says eighty-eight percent of households purchased potatoes on an average of 10 times during the 52-week period. This was a significant increase for fresh potatoes, which are already a staple item in households. During 2019, consumers purchased fresh potatoes, on average, seven times in 83% of households. Potatoes continued to be bought most often with bread, milk, eggs, onions, and other staple household items.

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Marilyn Monroe once modeled an Idaho potato sack dress…

“Did you know that iconic film star Marilyn Monroe once modeled a dress made from a potato sack promoting the city of Twin Falls? What’s even more astonishing is the fact that she still looked incredible wearing a potato sack,” writes Greg Jannetta in a piece published by Fox News radio. Jannetta writes that he came to find out that legendary movie actress Marilyn Monroe had a few things in common with the state of Idaho. “It turns out not only did she leave an Idaho mark on the modeling industry, but she also starred in a 1956 film that was shot just 80 miles north of Twin Falls.”

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Potato Expo 2021 to be a ‘hybrid’ event

Potato Expo 2021 will be a hybrid event, offering both a live, in-person as well as a virtual experience, the organizers say on the event’s website. “In light of COVID-19, we knew that the Potato Expo had to change,” the organizers say. “We’ve reimagined its design and delivery so it can still be the place where the potato community can come together over potatoes.” The potato community is invited to attend the event in Grapevine, Texas on January 6-7.

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Idaho potato harvest going strong

Idaho farmers are hoping this year’s potato harvest will be better than last year. A manager at Wilcox Fresh potato company says this year we are seeing a good start to the harvest season. Farmers are crossing their fingers that the weather will continue to cooperate and avoid a repeat of last year. 2019’s potato harvest was hit with frost that stopped spud companies in their tracks and caused extensive crop damage.

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UK: McDonald’s and McCain to invest in climate-friendly farming practices

McDonald’s has launched a “Sustainable MacFries Fund” in partnership with McCain to improve the resilience of British potato farmers, while also collaborating with the Walmart Foundation, WWF and Cargill in the US to improve land use practices, according to a report by Matt Mace, and published edie newsroom. The fund aims to support British potato farmers to use new techniques and technology that will improve soil quality and water management.

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High temperatures stall Canada’s Ontario potato harvest

Ontario’s potato harvest was progressing well, but had to stop over the past few days of the past week as temperatures rose above optimal harvest levels, according to Ontario’s potato specialist Eugenia Banks’ latest update. According to potato grower Joe Lach, there are a lot of odd-shaped potatoes and internal problems in the late crop. Grade out is high too. This is the result of a hot, dry summer, or as Lach put it “the wrath of nature.”

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How historic drought affects potato harvest in Maine’s Aroostook County

Aroostook County is experiencing a drought of historic proportions, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaring The County to be a drought disaster area. Rivers have dried up considerably, and potato crops, as with other crops in the area, have suffered due to the lack of water, reports Alexander MacDougall for Bangor Daily News. The USDA has made Aroostook farmers, as well as those living in adjacent counties, eligible for emergency funding.

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Aldi Ireland introduces 100% home compostable bags for Rooster potatoes

Aldi Ireland has announced that it is currently trialling 100% home compostable bags across its 1kg Irish Rooster Potato range, according to a report by Checkout. Aldi said that it has been working with two of its Irish suppliers; Keogh’s Potatoes and Iverk Produce over the past year to introduce the new eco-friendly packaging across all its 143 Irish stores.

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Innovative Farmers: Can brackish water be used for potato irrigation?

New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab and funded by AHDB in the UK will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation. Irrigation plays a vital role in potato quality. Growers in areas such as Holbeach Marsh, one of the driest regions in the UK, are facing considerable economic yield losses due to common scab. Under future climate projections AHDB and Innovative Farmers anticipate more unpredictability in rainfall events, increased saline intrusion of groundwater reserves and therefore a more vulnerable freshwater supply, which could impact on potato yields in the area.

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Milestone in digital transformation for Agrico: New website now live

For potato cooperative Agrico 2020/2021 is the season of its digital transformation. The first major milestone in this process is the new www.agrico.nl website that was launched last week. As well as growing innovative varieties, Agrico has worked hard on increasing the professionalism of its organisation in recent years. A vital component of this drive is the strategic plan Agrico 2030, entitled “Good Growth.” Agrico has defined a number of ambitious goals in this strategic plan. Modernising the IT environment and data-driven operation are key to achieving these goals.

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‘What have Belgium frites got to do with a Brexit trade deal?’

The UK may have already left the EU, but talks between the two sides to secure a trade deal are still in deadlock – with both sides saying next month is the deadline to do a deal. That’s causing big uncertainty for businesses on both sides of the Channel, who could face cross-border tariffs that would make their products more expensive.One of the countries set to be hit hardest by no deal on trade is Belgium – where leading economists claim thousands of jobs will be lost

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8 ways the Internet of Things is transforming the future of farming

Smart farms are defined as using modern technology and information to manage them. There are many new technologies available for farmers to use including sensors, software, robotics, GPS, connectivity, and data analytics. Farmers monitor their crops, soil, water, and temperatures without leaving their home. This is often called IoT in farming. In this article by Varsha Ambalkar, published by The Daily Plan IoT, the author looks in more detail at IoT in farming.

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PEF technology: McCain ‘dishes up hot chips with a side of lower greenhouse gas emissions’ in New Zealand

McCain Foods’ Timaru plant is reducing its energy usage environmental impact, now looking to electrification, by installing New Zealand-first McCain proprietary technology. The business has now slashed its coal consumption by installing technology which was developed and is owned by McCain, Pulsed Electric Field technology (PEF). Contributing to the business’s global commitment to a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions of our plants by 2030, the PEF system means the company will save approximately 4,800 tonnes of carbon each year.

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National Potato Council and Corteva in Kenya to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers

The National Potato Council of Kenya and Corteva Agriscience have embarked on plans to increase yield among smallholder farmers from 7 tonnes to 20 tonnes per hectare. The partnership intends to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers in Kenya on how to improve potato yields through the use of quality seed, resilient and improved varieties, pest and disease management, post-harvest management, and record-keeping.

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UK: The Great Ely Potato Race 2020 falls to Covid virus

The annual relay race which celebrates the humble potato has been postponed for the first time in its eight-year history. The contest, which is organised by Isle of Ely Produce with the help of over 30 local potato farmers, sees teams racing to the Market Place and back to the end of the High Street, near Ely Cathedral. The races will be back in 2021 with organiser Austen Dack promising a bumper day including a brand-new race on the day!

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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