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.
Europe, UK, Ireland
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Britain’s farmers are struggling to work out what to do with tens of thousands of tonnes of spare potatoes when their season ends this summer after the closure of fish and chip shops during the lockdown triggered a collapse in demand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Retail demand remains buoyant in Ireland, and the food service sector is now operating at around 20-25% of capacity as more restaurants open on a take-out basis, according the IFA’s weekly report released earlier today.The IFA says glasshouse potatoes started over the last two weeks, and roadside sales are expected to begin next week. With current travel restrictions in place it is unknown what projected sales will be.
Keeping late blight out of potatoes is a season long campaign for growers and one that seems to be getting tougher as the years go by, with seven day spray intervals now standard practice, say crop specialists at UK based adjuvant supplier, Interagro. They point out that with resistance to fluazinam now established in the blight populations and a continuing shift towards more aggressive P. infestans populations, such as 36_A2 and 37_A2, a robust resistance management strategy is essential to safeguard crops and chemistry.
AHDB’s new host SPot farmer in Scotland, seed potato producer, Jim Reid, from Milton of Mathers farm, St Cyrus, north of Montrose, is aiming to find sustainable solutions for the seed potato industry. Eric Anderson from Scottish Agronomy and Colin Herron from McCain will work alongside Jim and AHDB to support the project over the next four years. McCain has been involved with Scotland’s seed potato industry for more than 30 years.
A revolutionary co-formulated fungicide for the prevention of late blight in UK and Irish potato crops will be available for farmers to use during the 2020 growing season.
As a staple food with a long shelf life, potatoes are currently among the favourites on consumers’ shopping lists. The potato market in Germany and throughout Europe is benefiting from this. On the other hand, sales in the catering trade have slumped sharply due to the closure – especially processed potato products are suffering as a result. Valentin Beckmann, from Maurer Parat LLC, in Germany answered questions about the potato market.
Late Blight control strategies in the United Kingdom will have to change this season if potato growers are to combat the spread of a new aggressive, fungicide-insensitive/ resistant strain of the disease, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons says. The dark green 37_A2 form of Phytopthora infestans has quickly spread across Europe, reaching England two years ago when five cases were reported. The new strain is at least, if not more, aggressive than the dominant blue 13 and pink 6, but the crucial difference is that it appears equally aggressive on foliar and tuber blight.
Angus based precision farming solutions pioneers SoilEssentials have announced a new partnership with Elveden, a world-class producer and purveyor of local and regional food excellence. SoilEssentials and Elveden are proud to be working together using Tuberzone and Tuberzone CropCast to better manage potato crops for optimum size distribution and crop value, so reducing food waste. The Tuberzone suite of applications use data and not physical inputs to improve potato crops, and so are an environmental win-win.
Stepping up to the plate: European Commission adopts market stabilisation measures in the potato sector to counter COVID-19 impact
The European Commission (EC) on May 4 announced the adoption of exceptional derogations from EU competition rules to allow certain types of cooperation in the potato sector, as well as for milk and milk products, and also live plants and flowers. This is part of a wider package to support the agri-food industry during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A new camera that will detect crop disease quickly and at a significantly lower cost has been developed by British researchers. The technology could potentially save farmers worldwide thousands of pounds in lost produce, while increasing crop yields. The camera will cost less than £1,000 – about a tenth of the cost of the crop cameras currently on the market.
Managing weed control programmes in potatoes could be tricky this year, given the continued dry weather. Dry weather can hamper the activity of residual herbicides, while a lack of soil moisture will also slow the emergence of many key problem weeds until later in the season. However, some of the sneakier ones may grow from depth earlier, unimpeded by a dry and disrupted herbicide layer. This means growers are going to have to choose a robust post-emergence herbicide to tackle weeds when they emerge, said Craig Chisholm, field technical manager for Corteva Agriscience.
The AHDB in the UK is set to launch a marketing tool to help shift surplus potato stocks caused by a drop-off in demand since the Covid-19 lockdown. Food service sector demand for potatoes collapsed when the measures forced the closure of commercial outlets such as restaurants and many chip shops, reports Jonathan Riley for Farmers Weekly. To help move some of the surplus, the AHDB has set up a website, to be launched next week once final security testing has been completed. The aim is to provide a matchmaking service between growers with surpluses in their stores and potential buyers.