North America

The Potato Field podcast: RJ Andrus of Idahoan Foods

RJ Andrus isn’t just in one potato field, he’s in many fields. As the senior manager of raw procurement for Idahoan Foods, Andrus works closely with contract growers to make sure there are always potatoes to process. He’s also a member of the National Potato Council’s executive committee. Andrus talks about his upbringing, challenges facing growers, his advocacy work and what it was like trying to find John Keeling’s replacement.

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Smooth harvest, but short yield for Canada’s Manitoba potato growers

Manitoba’s potato crop won’t be breaking yield records, reports Alexis Stockford for Manitoba Co-operator. Then again, at least the crop is off the field. It has not been the case for the last two years. Producers were forced to abandon a significant portion of their crop in both 2018 and 2019 due to wet falls and damage from frost.

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McCain Foods US to support 750,000 meals for No Kid Hungry campaign

Following the announcement of McCain Foods US partnership with the No Kid Hungry organization, the company says on its LinkedIn channel that it is delighted to share that its financial donation will provide the equivalent of 750,000 meals. This donation is part of the No Kid Hungry ’s coronavirus response and recovery efforts that will help provide children with the most important school supply: Food.

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Growth of yellow potatoes and overall quality fuel optimism in Red River Valley

The outlook is good for high-quality crops of red and yellow potatoes from North Dakota and Minnesota, reports Sandy Lindblad Lee for Produce Business. Optimistic predictions for an excellent crop of consistent volume of Red River Valley potatoes is gratifying news for the multitude of buyers and consumers who look forward to these famous fresh spuds. This forecast is even more welcome following last season’s heavy losses in the Valley’s central and southern growing regions.

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US potato retail sales exceed 5-year records

Record potato sales continued at retail from July through September 2020, according to a news release issued by Potatoes USA. Total store potato sales are said to have increased by 13.6% in dollar sales and 10.6% in volume sales, compared to the same time frame in 2019. These sales levels are also the highest they have been for the past five years. Frozen potatoes showed the greatest increase compared to a year ago, with a dollar sales increase of 23.9% and a 19.7% increase in volume sales. The only category that declined compared to a year ago is deli-prepared sides.

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Researcher said to solve ‘potato herbicide puzzle’

When potato farmers show the University of Idaho’s Pamela Hutchinson apparent early season damage from herbicides, she wonders if excess rainfall is to blame. “The last three years, I’ve been asked by growers farmers to go out in the field in the spring or early summer. They see what they thought was herbicide damage to potatoes before or right after emergence,” she said. “Unusual conditions during the spring probably are what drove what you would consider injury. That condition was excess rainfall.” Hutchinson, associate professor and potato cropping-systems weed scientist with UI Extension in Aberdeen, is studying how excess rainfall plays into potato injury and weed control.

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BOULDER CANYON debuts new thin and crispy potato chips made with avocado oil

BOULDER CANYON® brings adventurous, flavorful snack food innovation to those seeking a better-for-you experience with their new Thin & Crispy potato chips. BOULDER CANYON continues its impressive track record of providing simple and healthier snack foods options. BOULDER CANYON has risen to be a fast-growing salty snack brand with the number one potato chip SKU in the natural channel, BOULDER CANYON Avocado Oil Sea Salt Potato Chip.

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Project to develop new potato varieties will benefit breeders, growers and consumers

Potatoes are a widely-loved vegetable. Baked, mashed, fried or chipped, they are a tasty treat. But they aren’t perfect. Potatoes present a big challenge for the plant breeders who work on the crop, trying to develop new varieties that are more savory, sustainable, storable or growable. “Potato is the world’s leading vegetable crop, but it hasn’t realized the genetic gains needed to keep pace with industry and consumer demands,” says Jeff Endelman, UW–Madison associate professor in the horticulture department.

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‘Potato-smart’: Idaho potato worker becomes Internet sensation and sends Fleetwood Mac sales soaring

When you’re on your way to work and your ride breaks down, you’ve got a couple of options. You can call a tow truck, call an Uber, or, if you’re like Nathan Apodaca, you can grab your bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice and your phone, hop on your longboard—and make a viral video that nearly breaks the Internet. As the old adage goes, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Rather than miss his shift at the potato processing plant where he works when his 2005 Dodge Durango—with 330,000-plus miles on the odometer— quit on him last month, the 37-year-old father of two took matters into his own hands…

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NPC CEO on accessing COVID relief aid; Potato Expo 2021 update

In the latest Eye on Potatoes podcast, NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in to discuss how potato growers are accessing $14 billion in aid available through USDA’s new CFAP 2 program and the latest Congressional efforts to fund the government until early December. Kam also provides an update on Potato Expo 2021, currently scheduled for January 6-7 as an in-person and online hybrid event and NPC’s Annual Meeting, moved to coincide with February’s Potato D.C. Fly-In.

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GROPRO: Providing growers with the efficacy needed for an organic IPM program

The importance of organic production in the USA continues to rise with total sales of organic products in 2019 hitting $55 billion. Currently, it’s the biggest global market for organic products (# 2 is Germany and #3 is France). To meet this growing market demand, GROP. a USA based producer and supplier of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers, has been approved for 6 OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed materials. With these certifications, GROPRO brings a wide and effective portfolio into the organic agricultural market.

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US: Ongoing drought shrinks Aroostook County potato yields

This year’s potato harvest was met with an unrelenting drought that diminished crops and tied up water resources for Aroostook County, Maine farmers. “We’re in trouble,” said Kevin Grass as he steered a 15-ton potato harvester forward while jotting down notes on the crop and monitoring his crew — tasks he’s come to master simultaneously over the last 30 years. “Our yields are way off.” Potato yields at Grass Farms are down a third this year, and its seasoned farmers point to the drought as the driving force. “I’ve seen dry spells but nothing like this,” said Duane Grass, 77, a third-generation potato farmer.

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Drought dries up potato harvest revenue in Canada’s New Brunswick province

With the harvest season underway, the impact of summer’s drought-like conditions is being unearthed in New Brunswick. Due to a lack of rainfall during the growing season, potato farmers say their yields are down significantly for fall 2020. Like many industries, the potato industry has been hit hard during a most unusual year. The first blow came earlier in the year – caused by COVID-19 and restaurant shutdowns; the second came from Mother Nature with arid weather during the summer months.

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Potato research projects benefit from Idaho ag dept annual specialty crop program

Interest in the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s annual specialty crop program was up considerably this year compared with last year. Sean Ellis of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation reports that ISDA has announced it will award a total of $1.8 million this year to 17 different projects that aim to benefit specialty crop growers in Idaho. The University of Idaho, Idaho Potato Commission, and Idaho State University received grants for a variety of projects.

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Student power: Idaho high school athletes double as farm hands for spud harvest

Wake up in time to get to practice at 6:45 a.m., work up to a 15-hour day harvesting potatoes, and then go to sleep to get up and do it again. That’s the life of a high school athlete in Southeast Idaho for weeks during the potato harvesting season known to locals as spud harvest, writes Koster Kennard of the Rexburg Standard Journal in an article published by Farm and Ranch. He writes that despite the fact that they have to go to practice several times a week, these athletes are some of the local potato farmer’s best employees.

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Family with deep Idaho roots creates ‘Real Idaho Potato Chips’

It’s no secret Idaho is known for its potatoes, but when it comes to potato chips, most are grown somewhere else. That’s something a Treasure Valley family decided to change, reports Karen Lehr for IdahoNews6. Brothers Marc and Kyle Nehring put their heads together a few years ago and set out to create an authentic, savory potato chip made from real Idaho potatoes. Fast forward to present day, and their Idaho “Real Potato Chips” can be found on store shelves across the Treasure Valley.

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Red River Valley expects nice potato crop

“The weather has been perfect since the heavy rains fell in late June,” Ted Kreis said in mid-September. “I think we’ll have a nice crop.” Tad Thompson reports in an article published by The Produce News, that Kreis, who is the marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, added that in the Red River Valley, “the crop is coming along very well. We had some losses in late June with heavy rain. We thought we lost 10- to 15-percent of the crop at that time. We have possibly recovered some of that through plant recovery and higher yields. So overall, it looks like an average-sized crop,” he said.

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Idaho Potato Commission’s “Ask Dr. Potato” fast becoming the most referenced online resource

Forgot how long it takes to bake a potato or if spuds should be stored in the refrigerator? Answers to these questions and hundreds more can easily be found at Dr. Potato on the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) website. “Dr. Potato was born because we were receiving hundreds of questions about potatoes from consumers and foodservice operators. Since many of the questions were recurring, we thought it would be most efficient to post them online so folks could access them immediately and at any time of day,” explained Frank Muir, President & CEO, IPC.

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McCain Foods resumes $300 million plant expansion in Washington State

McCain Foods will resume construction this month of a $300 million expansion at its french fry plant in Othello, Wash., the company announced, according to a report by Matthew Weaver, Field Reporter for Capital Press in Spokane, Washington State in the US in this article. “We are excited to resume construction on the 170,000 square-foot expansion of the Othello plant, where McCain Foods has operated for over 31 years,” Paolo Picchi, regional president, said in a company press release. “This expansion will increase production capacity through the addition of a new state-of-the art french fry processing line, bring new jobs to the community and require approximately 11,000 additional acres, sourced from local potato growers in the region.”

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Study shows more US households are purchasing potatoes

Fresh potato sales increased significantly from July 2019 through June 2020, and so did the number of households buying potatoes, according to a news release issued by Potatoes USA. The organization says eighty-eight percent of households purchased potatoes on an average of 10 times during the 52-week period. This was a significant increase for fresh potatoes, which are already a staple item in households. During 2019, consumers purchased fresh potatoes, on average, seven times in 83% of households. Potatoes continued to be bought most often with bread, milk, eggs, onions, and other staple household items.

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Marilyn Monroe once modeled an Idaho potato sack dress…

“Did you know that iconic film star Marilyn Monroe once modeled a dress made from a potato sack promoting the city of Twin Falls? What’s even more astonishing is the fact that she still looked incredible wearing a potato sack,” writes Greg Jannetta in a piece published by Fox News radio. Jannetta writes that he came to find out that legendary movie actress Marilyn Monroe had a few things in common with the state of Idaho. “It turns out not only did she leave an Idaho mark on the modeling industry, but she also starred in a 1956 film that was shot just 80 miles north of Twin Falls.”

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Potato Expo 2021 to be a ‘hybrid’ event

Potato Expo 2021 will be a hybrid event, offering both a live, in-person as well as a virtual experience, the organizers say on the event’s website. “In light of COVID-19, we knew that the Potato Expo had to change,” the organizers say. “We’ve reimagined its design and delivery so it can still be the place where the potato community can come together over potatoes.” The potato community is invited to attend the event in Grapevine, Texas on January 6-7.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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