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Plant drug factories: GMOs and gene editing are poised to transform medicine. Here’s how.

Plant biotechnology is poised to drastically improve how we consume medication. Using the modern tools of genetic engineering, researchers are developing plant-based drugs that are cheaper, easier to take and even more effective than their existing counterparts. Tautvydas Shuipys reports for the Genetic Literacy Project. A Canada-based company has announced that using this same technology, they have produced a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in twenty days.

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In memoriam: Potato industry veteran Dr Joe Pavek passed away

It is with great sadness that we report today that Dr. Joseph John Pavek (92) died from age related causes and a broken heart on May 24, 2020. Helost the love of his life, Sylvia, just 50 days earlier and after 62 years of marriage. Joe was a longtime friend of potato farmers and industry, serving as a potato breeder for the USDA at the Univ. of Idaho Res & Ext Center in Aberdeen, ID, working for 34 years (1965-1999). Joe developed new potato varieties with colleagues. Five of the top ten US potato varieties were created by Joe.

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Potatoes NZ request ‘Emergency Measures’ to ban EU frozen fry imports

Potatoes New Zealand is asking the New Zealand government to give urgent consideration to imposing short-term measures limiting the importation into New Zealand of heavily discounted frozen potato chips to avoid a food security threat. This follows the Australian Potato Industry’s move to do the same. Globally, the disruption of supply chains, and particularly sales to hospitality, by virtue of COVID-19 restrictions has led to the complete collapse of potato prices in major production centres, in particular the European Union (EU).

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Australian potato farmers outraged as $1billion COVID-19 cash splash is given to European colleagues

Australian potato farmers are outraged to discover a $1billion COVID-19 assistance package given to European growers could result in a flood of French fries into the market from overseas. An industry representative body for vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, said an influx of about 2.6million tonnes of excess potatoes into Australia would lock farmers out of the fast-food industry. The two biggest potato processors, McCain Food and Simplot, have been working with AUSVEG alongside other companies to address the issue

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Peru cements its position among top 15 potato producers in the world

Within the framework of the National Potato Day, which takes place May 30, Peru has consolidated its position among the top 15 producers of this Andean tuber in the world, given the active participation of over 700,000 small producers, who cultivate potatoes in 19 regions across the country. The results of the Andean tuber production confirm the position of Peru as the 14th world producer of potatoes.

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Ireland imported 72,000 tonnes of spuds

The importation of thousands of tonnes of potatoes and other foods worth billions of euro highlights the need for a greater focus on food sustainability by the next Government according to a Laois-Offaly TD. According to the CSO, Ireland imported 72,000 tonnes of potatoes, 47,000 tonnes of onions, 29,000 tonnes of tomatoes, 23,000 tonnes of cabbage and 15,000 tonnes of lettuce in 2017.

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Producer organizations in Alberta connect potato growers and cattle ranchers

Recently, some of Alberta’s ag industry leaders thought of an option to assist two producer groups hard hit by the effects of COVID-19. Many Alberta potato growers have a surplus of their crop as a result of the shutdown of restaurants and other businesses that use large quantities of potatoes. Alberta beef producers faced delays getting their cattle to processing plants because of shutdowns in late April.

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Influencing potato tuber numbers

The numbers of potato tubers produced by each potato plant is influenced by agronomy and varietal potential. Correct balanced nutrition is critical to influencing tuber numbers, according to Yara’s Topotato team. They say that phosphate, potassium, and calcium have all been shown to have effects on tuber numbers.

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The future of drones in farming

Data, and the analysis derived from drone flights, is critically important to a farmer. The most common use case of drone derived data and analytics is early weed and disease detection, which protects crop yield and reduces herbicide use. Farmers also look for plant counting analytics, which can increase yield by improving early-season replanting and better predict yields, in the data they are looking for from a drone system.

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COVID-19: Major impact on Idaho seed potato grower

Caribou County farmer Jason Stoddard is one of many Eastern Idaho seed potato growers who have been stuck with lots of spuds that will never be planted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commercial potato farmers throughout the state have canceled seed orders, having had their contracts with processors scaled back due to lost food service demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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World Potato Markets: Assessing a season like no other

The coronavirus has disrupted the global potato market like no other single event before it, but there are some signs things settling at least a new normal, according to Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets. World Potato Markets has just published its annual review of production, prices and trade. Potato News Today readers can enjoy a special purchase rate.

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Tips on effective use of maleic hydrazide in potatoes

Good application is essential in getting the most from maleic hydrazide, which AHDB trials in the UK have shown to be a useful, cost-effective tool for controlling early dormancy break in potatoes. Additional benefits of using maleic hydrazide include a reduction in secondary growth and chain tuberisation, and it also minimises internal sprouting.

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Aussie potato growers spitting chips over European fries dumping threat

Australian potato growers are digging in for an anti-dumping fight with Europe as it reportedly threatens to flood the local market with frozen French fries. AUSVEG said potato growers faced big losses if large volumes of processed potatoes were imported from Europe as a consequence of a €650 million ($1.08 billion) COVID-19 assistance package.

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Potatoes NZ reacts to reported ‘record high prices’ for spuds

Statistics New Zealand said earlier this week that potato prices in the country rose 18 per cent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo – an all-time high, they said. Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers. But Potatoes New Zealand told Potato News Today that these figures are skewed, since Stats NZ is reporting on a month when supermarkets were the only source of food.

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COVID-19 crisis: Idaho seed potato growers try to cope with 40 million pounds of unwanted spuds

Caribou County farmer Jason Stoddard is one of many Eastern Idaho seed potato growers who have been stuck with lots of spuds that will never be planted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commercial potato farmers throughout the state have canceled seed orders, having had their contracts with processors scaled back due to lost food service demand amid the pandemic. Industry officials estimate roughly 40 million pounds of Idaho seed potatoes have gone unsold or been returned to seed growers.

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Chips are down: Asia faces COVID-19 fries shortage

With prices and supply facing uncertainty due to lockdowns and high, panicked demand especially in the APAC region after the COVID-19 outbreak, it might be expected that potatoes would be able to benefit somewhat here – but in reality, there have been multiple factors hindering this opportunity, according to International Potato Center Asia Regional Director Samarendu Mohanty.

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Perfecting the potato chip

Each time a bag of potato chips is opened in the United States, there is a one in four chance that it’s filled with Michigan-grown potatoes. Michigan is the largest producer of potatoes grown for the potato chip industry in the US, A concerted effort made by industry stakeholders, spearheaded by Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch, and coordinated by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, has built a partnership that is growing the industry.

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Better potatoes post-harvest: Identifying diseases and engaging good management techniques

When the storage doors open and farmers look at their cured potatoes, they are hoping for high-quality spuds that will garner a fair price. Unfortunately, potatoes can be sneaky. Some don’t reveal problems until harvest, or worse, when they are already in storage. Determining which disease is present allows for better management and application of appropriate controls. However, treatments in potatoes vary and there are no silver bullets. Potato diseases work together to exacerbate each other, and pests help to increase disease risk.

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Ag drone company developing fully autonomous spraying and seeding drone

The days of swarming drones in Nebraska skies have just begun. Rantizo — a relatively new player in the drone industry — is upping the game with its crop spraying technologies and bringing competition to the traditional aerial application business. Rantizo has shirked the spot treatment status quo, reaching full field capabilities with one drone covering 14 acres an hour. “Within the next two years, our goal is 100 acres per hour,” said David Pieper, Rantizo director of sales.

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US potato exports begin to slow

The world-wide coronavirus pandemic is impacting U.S. potato exports, as seen in the figures for March, according to Potatoes USA. In a press release issued today, the organization says U.S. exports of frozen potato products were off 12% in March 2020 compared to 2019. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were off 16%, and fresh were off 13% from the previous year.

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Europatat welcomes ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy; calls on Commission to ensure coherent and realistic approach

Europatat welcomes the Farm to Fork Strategy published today by the European Commission. There is a need to secure a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, a message that the potato sector fully endorses, Europatat says. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets out regulatory and non-regulatory measures to make the EU food system a global standard for sustainability. In doing so, the Commission should take a pragmatic and realistic approach to this situation.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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