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Maltese potato donation arrives in Namibia

Erongo governor Neville Andre in Namibia on Friday received twenty refrigerated shipping containers (500 tonnes) with potatoes which Malta sent to Namibia as a donation. The Mediterranean island had an excess stock of potatoes this season, resulting in the donation to Namibia through its government overseas aid programme. This consignment of potatoes will be distributed to approximately 160 000 people in vulnerable communities in Namibia.

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Webinar now online: Desiccation – how to apply diquat alternatives to potato crops

AHDB has published its 19 August webinar regarding potato desiccation online as a YouTube video. I shows pictures and video clips of commercial potato crops during haul destruction. It also contains tips and guidance from leading researchers on how to apply desiccants, and use mechanical alternatives to diquat for desiccation of potato crops. Trial results and observations from research into how to desiccate seed potato and ware potato crops without diquat are in the spotlight as well in the video.

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‘Soils In Practice’ event returns for its fourth annual conference in October

The Farmers Weekly’s ‘Soils In Practice’ is returning for its fourth annual conference in the UK on 21 October. Soils in Practice brings together experts and industry professionals from across the UK agricultural sector, providing a platform to discuss the latest advances in boosting soil fertility and best practice in soil management. The event aims to help farmers understand some of the practical steps that can be taken to measure and promote healthy soil in a sustainable farm setting.

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Processing potato varieties yielding lower in Belgium, but fry quality is good

Late processing varieties are reportedly lower than the multi-year average yields in Belgium, but processed products are said to be of excellent quality. This became clear during trial digs of the Fontane and Challenger varieties. According to a report by Nieuwe Oogst journalist Han Reindsen, samples were taken on 10 and 11 August to evaluate the yield and quality of Fontane and Challenger. The total yield is said to be lower, but fry quality is good.

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Branston staff will ‘travel the world in 80 days’ to support charities

Staff members at UK-based potato supplier Branston are planning to virtually travel around the world in 80 days to support its charity of the year, Children’s Hospices South West. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Branston had to cancel its fundraising events this year, including its big annual 100-mile sponsored cycle. However, it will now be taking part in a walking, running, cycling and canoeing challenge to see if the team can virtually make it around the world in 80 days.

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NFU: ‘Food security must be key part of Britain’s green recovery from Covid-19’

A green recovery from Covid-19 is a ‘golden opportunity’ for British farming to become a global leader in delivering food security and set the benchmark for sustainable food production around the world, the NFU said today. NFU President Minette Batters said: “Our self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes is falling and it’s low in fruit. We can and should drive a horticulture revolution. At a time when we should all be eating more fruit and veg, we should be looking to our farmers to deliver more quality, affordable and home-grown fresh produce to our shelves.

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Blackleg in potato crops – filling the knowledge gaps

Blackleg is one of the most damaging bacterial plant diseases in the UK, responsible for annual losses of £50m for the British potato industry. AHDB says in a news article published today that it is supporting and funding multiple projects researching this disease. A project which started three years ago, looking at how to achieve better control of blackleg, will be completed this summer, while another one which will also last for three year is just starting. A large project which was co-funded by AHDB & Scottish Government is due to finish this summer.

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‘It’s all in the name’: Potato variety company C. Meijer BV became ‘Meijer Potato’

It was announced earlier this week that renowned Dutch-based potato variety and seed company C. Meijer BV has re-branded its identity and will from now on be known as ‘Meijer Potato’. The new name is said to do justice to the company’s international scope and stature. Almost 90% of the company’s turnover is generated outside of the Netherlands. The company’s mission, “Everyone deserves to enjoy food”, reflects Meijer Potato’s ambition. The company says on its website it’s mission is to provide more people with the opportunity to enjoy food.

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Canada: COVID-19 cases identified at a Simplot potato processing plant

Two employees at a potato processing in Portage la Prairie in Canada’s Manitoba province have tested positive for COVID-19, and 14 are in self-quarantine. On Thursday evening, J.R. Simplot confirmed employees had tested positive for COVID-19 within the Portage la Prairie plant. Josh Jordan, the manager of communications and public relations for Simplot, said the company was notified on Monday that one employee tested positive. He said 12 other employees who had been in contact with the person either in or outside of work, had been identified and tested.

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Young Farmer Podcast: Brandon and Ashley Bonk try new things to diversify and become more efficient

When Brandon and Ashley Bonk see an opportunity to grow their business, they take it. From 2007 to now, they’ve grown their farm in Magnolia, Del., from nothing to 5,500 acres. And while their focus is mostly on corn, soybeans and wheat, potatoes are becoming a bigger part of the business. “Sometimes you gotta stick your neck out and try something nobody else is doing. It’s a measure of risk I guess,” says Brandon, who started the farm with Ashley after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in ag systems technology.

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Canada’s Alberta potato growers concerned as 2020 harvest gets underway

While the 2020 potato harvest is well underway in southern Alberta, the Potato Growers of Alberta say lingering concerns about global french fry markets due to COVID-19 is putting a bit of a damper on an otherwise joyful time of year for local potato farmers. “The 2019 crop is now complete and done,” says PGA executive director Terence Hochstein. “It has been processed. But due to the COVID situation, not only here in Canada but also in the U.S. and globally, there is no guarantee what we put in the shed this year will be used completely.

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World Potato Congress Inc recognizes Zaotong as ‘Potato Plateau Seed Potato Capital of the World’

On August 18, 2020, a meeting was held in Zhaotong city, China. World Potato Congress (WPC) President Roman Cools, Dr. Peter VanderZaag, WPC Secretary and Brian Douglas, General Manager attended virtually. At this meeting, a ceremony was held to recognize Zhaotong as the “Potato Plateau Seed Potato Capital of the World”. Yang Yalin, Party Secretary of the Zhaotong Municipal CPC Committee spoke at the ceremony. Li Zhiping, Deputy Director of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also attended the ceremony.

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Hot potatoes: Potato varieties suited for climate change

With climate change heating up Canada’s crop land, identifying or developing new potato varieties that can grow in warmer temperatures is on the radar of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers. Xiu-Qing Li of AAFC in Fredericton noticed that warmer summers are creating heat stress in Canadian potato crops. He began studying Canada’s current varieties to see which are the most heat-tolerant. He also hopes to identify the genes responsible for heat tolerance and to incorporate them into future varieties, either through genetic crosses or directional mutation.

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Water already dwindling, Egypt’s farmers fear impact of dam

Years of mismanagement, corruption and increasing population led to the loss of at least 75% of farmland in Second Village in Egypt and the surrounding areas, according to Abdel-Fattah el-Aweidi, head of Gazaer Qouta Agriculture Association, overseeing the area. Now, it is feared that a dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, the Nile’s main tributary, could add to the severe water shortages already hitting farmers severely if no deal is struck to ensure a continued flow of water.

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How to make a potato store more efficient and get better sprout control

A well-sealed store will decrease your energy bills, and increase the efficiency on sprout suppressants like ethylene and spearmint oil. In this article, Adrian Cunnington, Head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research at AHDB Potatoes shares some tips for assessing and improving your potato store. The loss of approval of CIPC will inevitably mandate change within the potato industry. For many it may mean using alternative sprout suppressants. Others may choose to go chemical-free, moving to varieties with a longer dormancy period, or by storing at lower temperatures. For all though, optimising storage conditions and reducing operating costs are likely to be high priorities.

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UPGC report: Drought conditions in Eastern Canada; crop behind schedule in Western Canada

United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) issued its latest crop update report today. General Manager, Kevin MacIsaac says at press time parts of Eastern Canada are facing moderate to severe drought conditions. Rainfall is critical for this crop. In Western Canada, the crop is running behind schedule as processors push to get new crop harvest underway. Prairie yields currently look average at best, MacIsaac reports.

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Burn down options: Attention to detail essential for successful potato desiccation

Following the withdrawal of the substance from the market in 2019 and a final use up date of February 4, 2020, for stocks left in store, Leigh McClean Development Adviser at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) advises Northern Ireland potato growers to consider alternative options for burn down this season. “Chemical alternatives still exist in the form of a group of herbicides called PPO inhibitors of which there are two products, Spotlight Plus (Carfentrazone) and Gozai (Pyraflufen-ethyl) registered for use in potatoes,” he said.

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Efforts to save East Africa’s potatoes from potato cyst nematodes

Scientists at CGIAR-IITA, working with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) (under the joint Nematology Unit, NemAfrica, based in Nairobi), and their national and international partners have been at the forefront of efforts to address a new emerging pest threat to the production of potato in the East Africa region: potato cyst nematodes (PCN), These destructive pests can cause yield losses of up to 80%, and in some instances, even total crop failure, reports Kilimo News in a recent article.

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Breakthrough in soil analysis: ‘A library for understanding the soils of the world’

A breakthrough in how soils are analyzed, known as soil spectroscopy, is equipping both farmers and government decision-makers with a new tool in combatting land degradation and improving farmers’ crop yields and income. Soil spectroscopy analysis has proven to be faster, cheaper and more precise than conventional testing, giving agricultural producers at all scales vital information on how to improve their soils, in turn boosting crop yields and food production. The technology uses infrared electromagnetic radiation to measure how much energy the soil surface reflects at specific wavelengths, providing what scientists call a spectral signature.

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A third of U.S.-grown potatoes become frozen french fries, used mostly by food service

A little more than one-third of all potatoes grown in the United States are manufactured into frozen products, 85 percent of which are french fries, according to report by the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). Spurred by decades of explosive growth within the quick service restaurant industry (QSRs), processed potato products, which include frozen, chipped, dehydrated, and canned, became the major movers in the potato market, led by frozen french fries. The vast majority move through various food service venues or the export market.

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RPE to bring the new Golden Red premium potato variety to consumers this fall

Wisconsin-based RPE, Inc. — a full service grower, shipper, marketer of fresh potatoes — announced today that it is bringing a new, premium red potato variety to potato consumers this fall. “RPE Golden Red™ premium potatoes are the new gold standard in red potatoes,” said Tim Huffcutt, Vice President Sales and Marketing Operations for RPE. “Compared to common red potatoes, these superior stunners have a vibrant red skin with a rich, yellow interior and a sweet, creamy taste.”

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Ireland: Quieter potato market; cheap UK imports undermine prices

According to the weekly Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Potato Market Report, the potato market has been quieter as of late but this is typical for the time of year. Demand will return to normal as we approach September. The fresh chip market in the U.K.is still below par due to the impact of Covid 19. This has also impacted the market in Ireland due to cheap UK imports and a weaker sterling which are undermining local grower prices.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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