The Caithness Group of Companies successfully completed a demerger on 30th June 2020. From 1st July 2020, a new Company, Caledonia Potatoes Ltd, has been created by former Caithness contributors Alistair Melrose, Mike McDiarmid and Robert Doig. The prior Caithness team says they will continuously work in the many areas and with several of the varieties that growers will recognise as having been associated with Caithness previously. “For many of you the change will be seamless, apparent in name only,” they say.
Europe, UK, Ireland
James Hutton Institute plant scientists in the UK have discovered that a specific protein encoded by the potato genome is a key component of tuberisation, the process by which the potato plant initiates and develops tubers,. The research findings have been unveiled in the latest issue of The Plant Journal, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and the Scottish Government’s RESAS Strategic Research Programme. It is hoped that the genetic discovery will enable potato breeders to develop fast-maturing, more resilient potato varieties that will safeguard production during climate change.
A new online tool aiming to improve accuracy of slug pellet applications is now available, allowing operators to effectively set up uniform and precise pellet doses, according to a news story published by Farmers Weekly in the UK today. The app, named Calibration Wizard, which has been developed by slug pellet manufacturer Certis, in partnership with SCS Spreader and Sprayer Testing, hopes to reduce labour time calibrating equipment.
McCain steps in to support UK potato industry, put three-to-five-year loyalty scheme in place for growers
The UK’s £1bn potato growing sector has been hit so hard by extreme weather and coronavirus that its largest customer is stepping in with £25m of support to secure its supply chain. The hardest hit growers have been those who sell in the spot market rather than under contract, such as those selling for “fresh chipping” on the premises of food outlets. McCain, which buys about 15 per cent of the UK’s annual potato crop, normally has one-year contracts with growers. But as part of the £25m investment it will put in place a three-to-five-year loyalty scheme so farmers can be assured of their market.
One local potato producing company in the south of the Czech Republic is taking advantage of tourism to the area and developed and then installed a one-of-a-kind potato vending machine in the barn door on its property, reports Samantha Tatro for expats-cz. The vending machine lets people insert coins and to buy fresh potatoes, according to Viktor Kopa?ka, the company’s director. The varieties of potatoes available at the vending machine will change over time, depending on what’s in season. Right now, the machine sells the Suzan variety of potatoes.
Next Wednesday, 19 August 2020, AHDB in the UK will host a webinar focused on potato desiccation. During this online event, participants will get an in-field view of this year’s SPot Farm desiccation trials, as AHDB continues to provide independent data on how best to replace diquat as a desiccant. Observations from this year’s crop will be discussed, as well as a look at completed trial results from previous seasons and an interview with lead trials researcher Mark Stalham, before an online Q&A.
Results from blight fungicide testing show no significant decline in sensitivity according to research supported by AHDB. Data taken from trials carried out throughout 2019 means no changes in recommendations for blight control issued by the Fungicide Resistance Action Group (FRAG). Research leader David Cooke said: “…this data does not show any immediate cause for concern for potato growers that newer blight genotypes are causing problems for fungicide programmes.
Scotland grows an estimated 70% of the UK’s organic potatoes – but that’s now been put at risk from blight infection because of a bizarre ruling by the Scottish Government. So writes Colin Clark, former Scotland Office Minister with responsibility for food and farming, in an article published by The Scottish Farmer. Mr Clark writes that the UK farming minister has authorised the emergency use of copper hydroxide to control late blight, however the Scottish government ruled against using copper to control the disease.
Mechanical weed control is more and more becoming an essential part of farmers cultivation practices, and is no longer limited to biological cultivation only. For years now, AVR has been successfully designing and selling its combination ridging machine, which consists of a base chassis with a characteristic ‘weight transfer’ system, to which different elements can be added. This way the machine can be used as a speed ridger, hoe-rake ridger or an ‘eco ridger’. AVR introduces a foldable version to be able to remove weeds from even more ridges in one working pass
The latest Kantar figures confirm that Northern Ireland’s potato packing sector has grown by 3.9% over the past year in terms of total turnover. All the sector’s key parameters: including frequency of purchase and volumes purchased per retail visit are all up with one very obvious exception, according to a report by Farming Life. Wilson’s Country managing director Lewis Cunningham takes up the story: “The average price of potatoes in the shops has fallen over the past 12 months.
With many seed potato crops around Scotland coming up to size rapidly, potato growers are getting to grips with haulm destruction which will become part of the ‘new norm’ in the post-diquat era. The good news is that there are still viable options to bring down even vigorous canopies, but a change of mindset is needed. The industry standard is now to ‘flail-and-spray’. The canopy is destroyed with a pulveriser and one or more follow-up desiccant sprays are used to finish the job and to prevent regrowth.
In the August 7 issue of Potato Weekly, AHDB Analyst Anthony Speight writes that once again trade across the week can been described as relatively subdued in the UK. The Government’s new “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme started this week. The scheme is designed to encourage people to visit restaurants, cafes and pubs, which have been badly hit by the lockdown. Diners across the UK will be able to enjoy half-price meals at eat-in food and drink venues on Monday to Wednesdays at more than 72,000 venues. Speight writes that it’s still quite early to see if this will re-energise potato trade.
Tong Engineering is pleased to announce the completion and operation of its new manufacturing facility in Spilsby in the UK. The £3.6 million first phase building is part of a two-phase project on the seven-acre site and marks a new milestone in the company’s continuing growth and development programme. “At the beginning of the year, we knew that 2020 was set to be a landmark year for Tong. Opening a new factory after 90 years of business and what seems like 90 extensions to our existing factory, was always going to be very exciting,” says Edward Tong, Managing Director at Tong Engineering.
Outgrade potato piles can be a source of blight. In this article AHDB specialists in the UK are discussing blight control methods in outgrade and waste piles as well as best practice and tips for tackling this issue. Blight control does not start in the crop. It starts much earlier. Left uncontrolled, outgrade and waste piles act as a reservoir for blight infection. With ever changing genotypes within the blight populations, outgrade piles and volunteers can be an unwanted host for blight and a source of infection for commercial crops.
A next generation salad potato variety is on track to achieve 2 million tubers per hectare, bringing with it the potential to become a new market leader. according to a report by FarmingUK. The variety Jacky. developed by Agrico, is said to be on target to produce 2 million tubers per hectare with 65% sized 25-35mm yielding 50tonne/hectare overall. Jacky is a high-yielding second early potato variety. Bred to consistently produce round tubers below 45mm with pale yellow flesh, it is seen as ideal for the UK’s salad market.
In the latest IFA potato market report published today, it is said that the market for the food service sector remains very flat as pubs and restaurants are slow to get going again. Retail demand has leveled off but remains positive. The early market is holding quite well and lifting continues along the east coast, however, there are more reports this week that tuber numbers are down. The NEPG expect the EU crop to be slightly higher this year. Plantings have increased by around 0.5%.
Are you that enthusiastic researcher that likes to work on modelling and programming, and apply it to improve processes in crop production? ‘Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production’ (Potato Gap NL) is a project funded by NWO and Holland Innovative Potato (HIP), an initiative of 10 companies active in the potato value chain and prominent global players in the fields of potato breeding and processing. Increases in potato yields in the Netherlands have been relatively small compared to other crops.
The World Potato Congress Inc. is pleased to announce that the registration for the WPC 2021 to be held in Dublin, Ireland from May 31 to June 3, 2021 is now open. Individuals, accompanying persons and students can now register for the 2021 congress and view the Programme, Social Events & Tours offered and Sponsors & Exhibitors opportunities available. The registration process also provides accommodation options which can be booked as part of the congress registration. The early bird fee for registration deadline is January 31, 2021.
A leading exporter of Jersey Royals and one of the Island’s major growers have spoken of their pride in keeping the potato industry going through a difficult 2020 season. Adverse weather and the Covid-19 pandemic have both contributed to a challenging year for farmers in Jersey. Christine Hellio, from Manor Farm in St Ouen, said the Island had responded well after facing the initial crisis presented by Coronavirus in March.
The Dutch agricultural sector is said to have, relatively speaking, the lowest environmental impact of all countries in the world. That is what ABN Amro says. According to the bank, the joint ‘footprint of CO2, energy, pesticides and antibiotics in the Netherlands is the smallest per kilo of agricultural product.’ “We produce more per hectare of land here than any other country,” says Jan de Ruyter, agricultural sector banker at ABN Amro.
The potato industry in Australia is now in a state of ‘high alert’ for any potential French fries dumping activity from the EU, highlighting its chief concerns as price plummeting and farmer welfare after a tough season. The alert was raised after the European Union (EU) recently passed an EUR650mn (US$741.1/A$1.1.mn) COVID-19 government assistance scheme that would enable EU firms to export their processed potatoes cheaply Down Under, where before it had never been a common avenue.
The European Commission has approved a €35 million Belgian scheme to support companies active in the potato and floricultural primary production sectors in the Flemish region that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants. Of the total budget of €35m, €10m is earmarked to support potato growers, and €25m to support ornamental plant growers.
A UK manufacturer of vegetable harvesting and handling machinery has supplied its first to order to South Africa thanks to a recommendation from a Canadian company. Scotts Precision Manufacturing has sent one of its Evolution separators to Bestbier South Africa after Allan Equipment in Canada recommended the unique machine. Designed in Boston, Lincolnshire, the Evolution gently separates vegetables from soil and clod and haulm.
Four group members of The Shropshire Potato Growers Discussion Group in the UK are hosting trials on their farm this year looking at trap crops as a method of PCN control. For potato growers in the UK one of the biggest threats to production and sustainability are the potato cyst nematodes (PCN) (Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis) which can result in significant yield losses.
Today the organizers of the World’s first international Potato photography competition are thrilled to announce the winner… And the overall winner is: Ray Spence. The competition was inspired in part by the photo of a potato taken by acclaimed photographer Kevin Abosch that sold for $1 million in 2016. It is a splendid photograph and just goes to show there’s an appetite for potato-based photo-art…