“Winter-sown crops in Scotland continue to look well given recent relatively mild weather, even though we had 100mm, or four inches of rain in October to give a total for the year at the beginning of November of 541mm, or 21 inches,” writes Doug Niven in his column published in The Scottish Farmer today. He points out that there are some quality issues that have been identified recently with pest damage, rot and bruising, which will be a concern for long term storage. Niven asks: Will that see supplies coming onto the market earlier than planned?
Europe, UK, Ireland
Sowing wildflowers into potato crops could reduce aphid-carried viruses and offer an alternative to declining access to insecticides for growers, according to Scottish Agronomy. In Scotland, trials are being carried out to discover the effectiveness of growing flower strips in tramlines and headlands to promote natural predator populations to reduce pests as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy.
The corona virus is forcing the potato variety companies to consider a different format for the traditional variety shows this year. A number of companies opted for an event online, others have decided to postpone the shows for a year. In this series on Akkerwijzer, the potato variety companies talk about their showpiece varieties and the challenges that accompany its development. In this article, Sheep Holland reflects on “the traditional breeding work that is under pressure.”
UK based Branston submitted plans for a new processing facility. The company, which supplies own-label products to supermarkets, such as Tesco, as well as selling under its own brand, is seeking the go-ahead for a 10,462 sq ft building. North Kesteven District Council is expected to make a final decision in the coming months. The design of the buildings and the landscaping proposed is said to will help ameliorate the impacts of this development.
What a mess: Some British potato growers muddle through harvest after fifth-wettest October since 1862
Potato harvesting has once again been affected by wet weather, with widespread rainfall in recent weeks hampering grower efforts to get the crop out of the ground. According to the Met Office, the UK experienced the fifth-wettest October since 1862 last month. It included the wettest day on record for average rainfall (31.7mm) on 3 October. Key processors McCain and Lamb Weston both spoke of challenging conditions in East Anglia, parts of which saw close to 200% of their usual average rainfall in October.
AHDB will host the Potato Industry Conference 2020 online on the 24th of November, Participants will meet keynote speaker Brendon Rockey who grows potatoes for foodservice, and seed potatoes for the North American market at Rockey Farms in Center Colarado. But he does it at 7,600ft, with less than 6 inches of rain a year.
During the half-yearly trading day of potato breeder HZPC Holding B.V. today it appeared that the supply of certificates has increased again. The large supply offers buying opportunities for seed potato growers. The supply of certificates is higher than ever. Mr Gerard Backx, CEO HZPC: ‘After many years with a limited supply, there are currently many – probably mainly older – certificate holders who want to sell their certificates. This offers opportunities for seed potato growers who would like to buy certificates’.
Crop Systems Ltd is a well established company in Norfolk, dedicated to the potato storage industry. The company’s range of equipment includes electronic controllers, refrigeration, humidity and fan systems, are all built at its Happisburgh premises. Ray Andrews, Managing Director of Crop Systems says his company is expanding and is looking for a forward-thinking ambitious individual who can contribute to the success of the business and enjoy being part of a top rate friendly team.
The 31st Annual Cambridge Potato Conference is scheduled for 15 and 16 December this year. After much discussion and planning by the CUPGRA Executive Committee, it has been decided, owing to COVID-19 restrictions, to go ahead with a hybrid real-virtual conference to continue the unbroken run of 30 successful CUPGRA Cambridge Potato Conferences.
Crop.Zone develops alternative solutions for weed control and crop desiccation. The German-based company creates chemical-free alternative concepts and products, helping farmers to prepare their fields and get their crops ready for harvest in a sustainable, environmentally sound way. In Europe, this is traditionally done with the aid of chemicals. But the individuals who are the driving force behind Crop.Zone want to change all of that.
Insort is proud to announce another major development for increased safety in food production processing plants with the Sherlock Safeguard®. The heart of the machine is the latest generation of the tried and tested Chemical Imaging Technology (CIT® Gen3). This hyperspectral imaging technology, which is now being used for the first time in the further improved 3rd generation, can record the chemical composition of food in real time. This means that not only dangerous foreign bodies such as stones, metals and glass but also all organic and unappetizing foreign bodies.
Agronomy Week will run from Monday 30 November to Friday 4 December. It will comprise a series of webinars aimed at agronomists on important issues in contemporary agronomy. Ordinarily, AHDB hosts the Agronomists’ Conference in December. This annual event is a two-day conference for agronomists, covering the cereals and oilseeds and potatoes industries. Due to ongoing restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic, AHDB has taken the decision to cancel major events up until the end of 2020. As a result, this years’ conference will be entirely online and free to attend.
Scotts Precision Manufacturing is aiming for growth in Ireland following the appointment of a new dealer. The designer and manufacturer of vegetable cleaning and harvesting equipment has added Quaile Machinery in Ireland to its dealer network. Operating from its headquarters in Dublin, Quaile Machinery will be promoting Scotts’ full range of Trinity haulm toppers, Evolution separators, Microlift fully mounted windrowers, Windrower conversion kits and parts replacement.
As FreshPlaza reports, just over a week ago, the North-Western European Potato Growers Association (NEPG) sent out a call. They want the sector’s acreage to be reduced by at least 15% for the 2021/2022 season. This is an emergency measure to nip the effects of the coronavirus in the bud. For instance, the hospitality industry has been closed. But does this measure offer real relief? How realistic is the NEPG’s appeal?
Since last week, Agrico has been presenting its new varieties on its new online platform, agricopotatoes.com. This platform is also the next step in the digital transformation of the potato cooperative. Agrico has been organising a large and well-attended variety show in November for years now. Due to Covid-19, this meeting full of physical encounters was not an option this year. To maintain the moment of connection with its customers and to present its new varieties, the cooperative developed an online platform. Agrico has declared this season as the year of digital transformation.
In the second of AHDB’s blog series on Brexit, its market intelligence director and Warwickshire farmer Phil Bicknell shares his thoughts on the inevitable changes on the horizon and how he is equipping his own business to weather the challenges. He writes: “Our industry faces a decade of change, much of it driven by significant policy shifts. Some sectors will face the challenge of reducing dependency on direct payments as they are phased out. We know there will be an increased focus on the environment. The UK’s new trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world will impact our industry.”
Today, TOMRA Food joined over 200 forward-thinking companies as the newest project member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Michel Picandet, Executive Vice President and Head of TOMRA Food said: “To achieve a sustainable future for the food industry, governments, corporates and consumers alike, must change the way in which we produce and handle food – from farm to fork.
Videogame technology will be used to help develop the perfect potato as part of a ground-breaking new project involving Abertay University and a major potato seed supplier, reports Richard Mason in a news story published by The National. The university, based in Dundee, has entered into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Agrico UK Ltd, with the aim of utilising artificial intelligence to shorten what is normally a lengthy and complicated process, taking more than 10 years to breed a new potato variety.
Lockdown 2.0 “arrived” in Britain and this brings widespread closure of pubs and restaurants once again. Although the rules differ across the country, with Wales’ firebreak rules coming to an end, Scotland experiencing regional restrictions and England in a full national lockdown. This will inevitably effect the potato industry, but the effect is unlikely to be as dramatic as the first lockdown, according to the AHDB.
The annual Potato Days event in Joure is a valued networking event attracting hundreds of growers and customers from many countries. This year, many more interested individuals from all over the world seized the opportunity to join the online Potato Days 2020, which took place live from a virtual studio, last Wednesday. At least 1300 people from the entire potato chain met each other in an interactive online setting where they experienced the event together. With Potato Days Live, HZPC says it sets a new standard that fits the current reality and the future.
Fenkleen Hygiene Ltd in the UK has been carrying out specialist high level cleaning of potato stores and facilities for the last 35 years in East Anglia. With today’s regulations and accountability on the removal and reduction of CIPCs residue, it’s never been more important to carry the procedure out effectively and safely. Whatever method is being employed to carry out the cleaning, either wet or dry, store managers must take into account other contaminates that may be involved in the equation and its removal and factor that in to the process.
The race is on to get this year’s Scottish potato crop harvested as growers battle their way through drenched fields and muddy conditions. The 2020 season in Scotland has been one of extremes, with one grower describing potato farming this October as “drudgery”. Fields were too dry at the start of the season with some growers irrigating crops because dry conditions meant potatoes getting bruised as they came through harvesters. Growers are now facing the opposite problem – significant rainfall since the start of the month has left harvesters sitting idle in sheds or struggling in sticky fields.
Caledonia Potatoes opened its doors this week to invite clients and potential clients along to a showcase of their seed potato varieties, reports Nichola McGregor for FreshPlaza. “This is a great chance to talk, and listen to our customers on a one to one basis. We do also attend tradeshows, which obviously this year is not possible, but having people here at the farm means we can spend more time with our customers,” Robert Doig, Director at Caledonia Potatoes told Nichola. Caledonia Potatoes was created in July this year after demerging from The Caithness Group.