The release of the end-March stocks estimate did enable the UK domestic market to encapsulate the partial impact that the coronavirus is having on the potato industry. However, it does not allow us to paint the whole picture as we finish this marketing year and head into next season. Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, wrote the following report that we gladly re-publish here.
Europe, UK, Ireland
In an exclusive interview with Dan Orehov, Edtor of Potato Business, Secretary General of Belgapom, Romain Cools, talked about the current situation of potato consumption and trade in Belgium, on the background of the pandemic. Orehov and Cools also discussed the future of the Belgian potato, from farm to fork and the impact that foodservice industry closure has had so far on the overall potato business.
It is of course already well known that blight is a constant threat and significant cost to potato growers. To offset blight, British potato growers should put plans in place as early as possible with their Basis agronomist to ensure a proactive approach is taken to prevent the disease, according to a report published by the Newsroom at Farming Life. In order to achieve putting less pressure on fungicides it is important that good Integrated Pest Management principles are applied for blight control. The most important thing when spraying to prevent blight is to start your programme early.
According to a report by Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, the month of May has been relatively static across the industry in general. The initial lockdown caused a divergence in demand between the retail and food service sector. Speight writes in his report: “We have since seen their respective demand stabilise momentarily and we are at a juxtaposition that relies on further uplifting of lockdown restrictions for demand to increase.”Throughout May we had increased reports of chip shops reopening. Outlets that featured on take out apps, mostly in built up urban areas have reported to have a successful customer base.
The IFA reports that the market situation remains largely unchanged in Ireland. Early liftings continue this week in the country, with drought conditions hindering yields in many areas. Irrigation is a key concern for all growers at present. Drought is a key concern across Europe. The drought in the Netherlands is seen as worse than that of 1976
Potato yields from the early Jersey Royal crop are down 40% as drought grips the Chanel Islands in bone dry conditions not seen since the drought of 1976. A very wet February was followed by virtually no rain through March and April, and the season on Jersey is running three or four weeks behind the normal lifting schedule.
Consumers have been urged to seek out British potatoes on supermarket shelves to help East Anglia’s growers shift the huge surplus generated by the loss of lockdown demand from chip shops and restaurants. The coronavirus pandemic left thousands of tonnes of potatoes stranded in stores as the food service sector closed down. Some have been redirected to retailers, others have been sold directly from farm shops and delivery schemes, or sold off as animal feed.
Potato production in Tenerife will significantly decrease this year due to a wind storm that hit the island in late February, which wiped out a good part of the extra-early potato crop. And then there was also damage done by the Guatemalan moth plague that has been affecting Tenerife farmers for more than 20 years.
INTERPOM 2020, Europe’s most specialised indoor trade show for the entire potato industry. The 20th edition of INTERPOM will therefore go ahead, but opening days will be changed and the event will comply with the COVID-19 health and safety measures,” the organizers of the event say. So, we will now be happy to welcome you and yours on Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 November 2020 at Kortrijk Xpo.”
Belgium : Flemish potato growers foresee 10 mil Euro as support to cover part of their income losses for ‘free (non contracted) potatoes’
Today the Flemish Minister for agriculture, Mrs. Hilde Crevits, and the Flemish government have decided to foresee € 10 million from the Flemish corona emergency fund to support potato farmers who have suffered important income losses with their “free potatoes” (potatoes which have not been contracted). Farmers with contracts have received confirmation that the processing industry will respect and execute contracts (or agree on an alternative solution).
Flexible drift retardant designed for use with potato blight fungicides said to reduce drift and maximise coverage
A flexible drift retardant, specifically designed for use with blight fungicides, could play an important role in keeping potatoes disease free this spring, according to adjuvant and biostimulant experts, Interagro. Developed to help tackle the practical problems growers face, Crusade – from Interagro – is a flexible drift retardant specifically designed for use with all potato blight fungicides.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will host a webinar this coming Thursday, the 4th of June, on the fourth and final meeting of the KTIF Tuberzone project. It will take place at 1:00 PM BST and last for an hour. This project has taken cutting edge crop modelling technology and made it available to a group of farmers growing Gemson seed and salad potatoes. The model uses a host of different measurements and predictions to provide growers with more information to aid their crop burn-down decisions and calculate the best economic yield depending on tuber size.
Hot potato Bud the Spud will make his British television debut this summer as part of a £100,000 marketing push. AHDB says in a news release that it has refreshed the successful More Than a Bit on the Side campaign to support retail sales of potatoes in the wake of COVID-19. The tongue-in-cheek campaign, which features saucy character Bud alongside a range of suggestive slogans, aims to inspire home cooks to add an extra potato meal to their weekly repertoire.
New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab in the UK and funded by AHDB will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation, in particular drip irrigation. Grower members of Nene Potato Ltd planned a trial on use of slightly saline water with those able to offer technical support. The two aspects being investigated are effect of salinity and benefit of application by drip when using brackish water.
In a press release issued today, the organizing committee of the Potato Europe 2020 event announced that the event was regretfully cancelled due to concerns regarding the health safety of participants. The event was scheduled to take place on 2 and 3 September 2020 at Villers-Saint-Christophe in France. The next Potato Europe event is scheduled to take place in the Netherlands in September 2021.
When second generation farmer Wayne Garrett, of Norfolk-based RG Produce, needed to upgrade his potato handling operations to meet ongoing market demands, he turned to Tong Engineering in order achieve increased capacity and unparalleled cleaning with the company’s flagship Caretaker mobile grader. The Caretaker is set-up to feed the company’s existing bagging line or their new Tong EasyFill Box Filler with trademark doorstop belt.
Keeping potato crops stress-free is vital to protect yield and quality potential, and an amino acid based biostimulant could give crops an essential boost over the coming months, according to UK-based adjuvant technology company, Interagro. But in a year where mother nature just keeps on giving, keeping crops in optimum condition is a challenge that is quickly becoming a nightmare for most potato growers and their agronomists.
HZPC is employing the services of a specialised robot in its fight against potato diseases and viruses within its breeding programme. In combination with marker technology, this supports the quicker development of resistant potato varieties so that lower levels of pesticides are required and crop losses are kept to a minimum. According to the Dutch potato company, disease resistant varieties are an important step towards worldwide food security and sustainable potato growing.
Secretariat of Europatat: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, European potato traders have been working around the clock not only to keep the potato supply chain running but also to help combat Covid-19. In this article you can take a look at those Europatat’s members actions that have been carried out all around Europe in the past weeks. We would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to all of you. You are our #foodheroes!
Maltese farmers are devastated to find that their potato harvests will not be accepted as exports in the COVID-19 crisis. “The farmers are desperate. This isn’t something they handle overnight but they actually invest months of their time and a lot of money,” head of farmers’ lobby G?aqda Bdiewa Attivi Malcolm Borg told Times of Malta.
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.
Consumers in Belgium might have noticed that in most supermarkets currently also packed early potatoes originating from the Mediterranean area are being offered. The Flemish media in Belgium have given attention sincere attention to this.. Belgapom recently presented an explanation for this phenomenon.
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.
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.