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COVID-19: President Trump, USDA announce $16 billion in direct support to food producers

President Trump yesterday held a press event at the White House to announce the details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The potato industry has advocated for two distinct programs to provide relief to family farms impacted by this crisis. “Over the past two months, the U.S. potato industry has urged USDA to move quickly to help clear product out of the supply chain and support family farmers with direct support,” said NPC President Britt Raybould.

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Potato prices reach record high in NZ as Covid-19 affects industry

Statistics New Zealand said today that prices rose 18 per cent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo – an all-time high. “Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said.

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Cornish new potatoes flourishing after wet start

Growers of Cornish new potatoes said their crops are now flourishing after a miserable start to the year. FG Pryor is currently harvesting in the fields around Penzance, lifting the fluffy-skinned Cornish new potatoes: initially destined only for Cornwall, but shortly to be available nationwide. Colwyn Farm has been run by the Pryor family since the late 1800’s. Philip Pryor says: “I want to hand the land over to the next generation in the same or better state than it was handed to me.”

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Why Wisconsin potato farmers could be in trouble

As of now, potato farmers in Wisconsin haven’t been hit too bad by the coronavirus. They’re going to be hit this Fall, according to a report by WHBL Radio. The problem for Wisconsin growers is that a lot of the state’s potatoes have gone to the fresh produce side of the industry. That’s totally fine for now, but once Fall hits and you have the potatoes from the Midwest and the ones coming from the Western states, it’s going to be an issue.

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British farmers to ‘go purple’ to support children’s charity

Farmers are being asked to turn their fields purple in support of a charity working to help seriously ill children in the UK. Agricultural supplier Carrs Billington has announced a fifth year of support for children’s charity WellChild. Another significant contribution will be made to the charity this year, and farming businesses are needed to help.

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UK: Elveden estate gets in Tuberzone precision to manage potato crops

One of Britain’s biggest arable farming operations will be the first commercial company to roll out the latest precision potato technology developed by Angus-based SoilEssentials. One of Britain’s biggest arable farming operations will be the first commercial company to roll out the latest precision potato technology developed by Angus-based SoilEssentials.

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Australia: Past ‘Farmers of the Year’ reflect on success ahead of 2020 awards

Australian potato farmers Susie and Gerard Daly were named Farmers of the Year in 2019, and the exposure from the win has boosted their business. The family runs a potato farm in Dunalley, on Tasmania’s south-east coast, and has spent the past couple of months ramping up their business amid increasing demand due to COVID-19. “For us it’s been a godsend, in that people are staying at home and cooking so we saw the fresh potato market increase by 40 per cent nationally in the first month of the epidemic,” Ms Daly said.

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The potato portal: New buyer and grower ‘match-making’ website goes live

AHDB in the UK has launched a new portal to help put potato growers and wholesale buyers in touch with each other. The portal will act as a ‘match-making’ site for growers and merchants to find each other, with any trade taking place directly between them. Growers can view any requests on the portal from merchants and/or post available stocks of potatoes. Merchants can view available stocks from growers and/or post requests for specific varieties and/or volumes of potatoes.

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Robert Graveland, HZPC: ‘Europe is not adding value to its variety innovations’

“Improving potato varieties is our company’s core business,” says Robert Graveland, HZPC’s Research Director. “We noticed we have not yet used many genetic variants. There is still a lot of potential in this.” To use this potential, speed and control are crucial, says Robert. One way to speed up the process is to use gene-adaptation, for example, CRISPR-CAS. That can, for instance, create resistance or make a variety salt or heat tolerant. Some laws in Europe define gene-editing legally as GMO, though.

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Scottish potato producer looking for solutions for the seed industry

Seed potato producer, Jim Reid, from Milton of Mathers farm, St Cyrus, near Montrose, joined AHDB’s strategic farm network as the new host SPot farmer in Scotland at the start of the year, according to a report released by AHDB. At Milton of Mathers farm, multiple studies on desiccation have been carried out over the last nine years. As part of the desiccation trials that will be carried out at the farm, different fertilising regimes will be compared as well as the impact of cultivation.

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Restaurant-grade gourmet potatoes go on sale in Tesco to ease glut

Gourmet potatoes favoured by top chefs and typically found only on the menus of high-end restaurants are to go on sale in Tesco this week to avoid them going to waste, according to news report by The Guardian in the UK. The move aims to ease a glut of fresh potatoes in the UK, with thousands of tonnes unused since the government ordered the closure of hospitality businesses on 23 March.

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Report: Current and future trends in the Ukrainian potato market

“The 2019/20 potato season in the Ukraine turned out to be the most unprecedented within the whole history of our monitoring,” says the market information company Fruit-Inform in a recent report. “We expected an increase of potato imports into the Ukraine of up to 21,000 tons in our autumn forecast. However, as of March, the imports totaled 300,000 tons!

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McCain Foods GB embraces Restrain sprout inhibitor as replacement for CIPC

Potato processor McCain Foods (GB) Ltd is using ethylene and specifically the anti-sprouting system Restrain as its preferred replacement for the soon to be withdrawn CIPC, according to a press release issued by Restrain company. According to the release, McCain Foods GB, the UK business of the world’s largest producer of frozen potato products, has been using ethylene for a few years and is now recommending Restrain ethylene generators to its potato growers in the United Kingdom.

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‘Potatofied’ innovations: Developing entrepreneurial skills among Indian potato farmers

There is, perhaps, no vegetable in the world as versatile as the potato. And farmers in Assam, India, are proving this fact by developing numerous innovations to bring new products into local markets. The innovations have been created through Value Chain Schools (VCS) within the Assam Agri-Business and Rural Transformation Project (APART) – a project dedicated to fostering entrepreneurial skills among small and marginalized farmers in Assam.

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Aussie potato growers supported by public at farmers’ markets

Many industries have faced changes due to COVID-19, including potato growers. With the Great Trentham Spudfest in Victoria, Australia cancelled earlier this month due to coronavirus restrictions, the region’s growers were left without one of their biggest opportunities of the year to sell their produce. But they, along with other growers around Ballarat, have all found ways to continue selling their potatoes to the public.

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Canada: Prince Edward Island potato industry wants tomato growers to be ‘good neighbours’

Prince Edward Island’s Department of Agriculture has begun an education campaign to make sure gardeners understand the importance of growing blight-resistant varieties of tomatoes this spring. In 2015, there was a similar education campaign after a new aggressive strain of late blight devastated tomato crops the summer before. The strain, called US 23, primarily attacks tomatoes. But it’s also a concern for the province’s billion-dollar potato industry.

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Pivoting when in crisis? Potato Corner founder shares ideas

“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.

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Frost causes severe damage to early potato crops in Ireland

Sub-zero conditions have caused severe damage to potato haulms in some areas around Ireland. Nighttime temperatures this week dipped to -2.5°C in some areas, resulting in localised ground frost. Temperatures in Katesbridge, Northern Ireland, reached -6°C on 13 May. Reports came through on Friday morning from growers around the country of damage to early and early-main crop potatoes. Damage to emerged foliage ranges from mild to severe. Crops planted on low-lying land appear to have been worst affected.

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AHDB releases potato supply and demand estimates for Britain

Since lockdown measures were imposed in Britain in March of this year, uncertainty over the forward demand profile of potato markets has grown and grown, says Senior Analyst at AHDB, Alice Bailey. AHDB has pieced together its opinion on current and future supply and demand profiles to begin a wider discussion on the forward profile of potato markets. “We will constantly review and update as new information becomes available and circumstances change,” says Alice Bailey, author of the report.

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Leading the battle against nematodes

New weapons in the battle against the pale cyst nematode — a major potato pest that has cost US farmers millions of dollars since it was found in southeast Idaho in 2006 — include an effective bio-fumigant and a surprisingly efficient “trap crop.” Researchers are also making progress in developing PCN-resistant potato varieties. “Understanding the biology allows us to target the weak point in the life cycle,” said University of Idaho Associate Professor Louise-Marie Dandurand, project director of the Globodera Alliance.

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Cavendish Farms slated to receive provincial help in dealing with surplus of processing potatoes

A $4.7 million provincial program developed in conjunction with the Prince Edward Island provincial government and Cavendish Farms should help deal with a surplus of potatoes accumulating in the warehouses of processing growers, says the general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada. However, there is concern in some quarters about the fact that all of the funds are destined for the processing company. The district director of the National Farmers Union said the deal raises “a lot of red flags.”

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A robust blight strategy more essential than ever as new blight strains continue to evolve

Control strategies for late blight are constantly developing as the pathogen causing the disease evolves and the available blight chemistry changes, either due to regulation or efficacy shifts due to fungicide resistance, according to independent agronomy company Farmacy Plc in the UK. Overcoming issues such as these is a key part of the Hutchinsons’ blight trials, first set up in 1997. The trial is managed specifically to test products individually under higher blight pressure than might otherwise be found in the field.

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Dutch processing potatoes sold on the Ukrainian fresh market

The Netherlands has begun supplying potatoes, originally intended for processing, to the Ukraine. Despite the fact that these varieties are not intended for fresh consumption, the processing potatoes from the Netherlands sell well on the fresh market in the Ukraine, mostly because these potatoes are of high quality, while it is sold at prices similar to local Ukrainian potatoes.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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