North America

New branded Idaho russet potato packaging launched

If consumers “eat with their eyes first”, you could say that packaging is the main course. As such, communicating your brand through a unique package can be one of the most powerful tools in the produce aisle. Idaho based ProSource Produce is well aware of this and recently released the first images of its new branded Idaho russet potato packaging.

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MountainKing’s COVID relief efforts top 1.6 million pounds of fresh potatoes for Houston Food Bank

One year after making its first COVID-19 relief delivery to the Houston Food Bank, MountainKing has now shipped more than 1.6 million pounds of fresh potatoes to the non-profit organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to those in need. “For years, MountainKing has been a supporter of the Houston Food Bank and its mission of providing food for better lives,” notes Andreas Trettin, the company’s director of marketing.

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Can buckwheat be the new top crop on the rotation block?

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers are encouraging farmers to buck the trend and use buckwheat as a triple threat crop. In addition to its high nutritional value, the fast growing crop is proving to be beneficial in suppressing pests such as wireworms in potatoes, and preventing soil diseases.

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Pesticides and food: ‘It’s not a black or white issue’

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring drew attention to pesticides and their possible dangers to humans, birds, mammals and the environment. Some of her conclusions and warnings have not held up over time, but Silent Spring produced a movement that changed how the U.S. thought about chemicals and biotechnology.

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NASA Harvest and CropX partner to support sustainable ag initiatives

NASA Harvest (NASA’s Food Security and Agriculture Program) and CropX, a global leader in soil analytics for agriculture, recently announced a strategic partnership that will give NASA Harvest unprecedented soil insights for its global agricultural monitoring efforts. The partnership will further NASA Harvest’s mission to improve food security and advance sustainable agriculture.

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Canada’s Alberta province officially declared PCN-free

A team effort led to Alberta being declared Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) free – improving trade prospects for potato producers, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in the province, Devin Dreeshen. He says: “Potatoes are a billion-dollar industry in Alberta. This announcement will help us re-claim market access and will lead to fewer restrictions as we pursue new markets.”

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COVID-19 compliance costly for Washington State potato growers, packers

In a recently completed survey by the IMPACT Center at Washington State University, it was found that Washington State farm families’ direct compliance outlays to manage COVID-10 were roughly $2,532 per month. Direct compliance outlays were found to be much higher for those businesses packing potatoes at $4,340 per month.

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HZPC: ‘Ready to grow in North America’

Potatoes in the United States and Canada are a commodity. When selecting varieties, the colour of the skin tends to be the primary consideration. As new managing director of HZPC Americas Corp, Jeff Scramlin sees opportunities to increase market share by highlighting the distinguishing characteristics such as cooking types, flavors and textures. These efforts should help to de-commoditize potatoes, create demand and increase value through the chain in North America.

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The potato soft rot complex in the US is changing: Is this good news?

This past winter, two well known potato pathologists stated that the incidence of Dickeya dianthicola is declining in the U.S., writes Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist at the Ontario Potato Board, in a recent article. Dr. Banks is of the opinion that additional novel and potentially high virulent soft rot species probably remain to be discovered, and this high level of diversity will hinder the development of tolerant potato varieties. “This is not good news!,” Dr. Banks says.

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PMA and United Fresh to create new global trade association

The boards of directors of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) have reached an agreement in principle to create a new global trade association combining their resources and expertise to enhance member services, increase advocacy before government and the public, help members grow their businesses, and drive consumption of fresh produce.

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Feed the Future – Biotechnology Potato Partnership: Annual report released

The Feed the Future – Biotechnology Potato Partnership (BPP) is a five-year, $5.9 million multi-institution cooperative agreement between MSU, USAID, Simplot Company and other global institutions to develop and bring to market improved potato products in farmer- and consumer-preferred varieties in Asian countries. BPP offers biotech potato products with broad-spectrum resistance to late blight. The BPP annual report for FY 2020 is now available.

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High psyllid pressure expected for Washington state potatoes

Washington potato farmers can expect high pressure from psyllids, the insects that can carry zebra chip disease, researchers say. Potato psyllid populations fluctuate from year to year, said Rodney Cooper, temperate tree fruit and vegetable research leader for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Wapato, Wash.

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‘Thievery’: First known gene transfer from plant to insect identified

A pernicious agricultural pest owes some of its success to a gene pilfered from its plant host millions of years ago. The research finding is the first known example of a natural gene transfer from a plant to an insect. It also explains one reason why the sweet potato whitefly Bemisia tabaci is so adept at munching on crops: the gene that it swiped from plants long ago enables it to neutralize a toxin that some plants produce to defend against insects.

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‘Crunch-time in Wisconsin’: New Milwaukee potato chip company launched

When Michael Moeller decided in 2019 that he wanted locally made potato chips for Milwaukee, he had no idea just how local they could be. In early March, Moeller made his first sales and deliveries to Milwaukee businesses, produced by the newly founded Milwaukee Chip Co. As for raw product, he found his match in fourth-generation grower Okray Family Farms in Plover, WI.

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‘Cut and fried’: Northwest spud farmers take a deep hit on their processing contracts

The Northwest farmers who grow potatoes for your French fries are themselves plenty fried. The three massive agribusiness companies that make much of the world’s frozen fries, tots and hashbrowns are going to pay Northwest potato farmers less this year. “It really is a punch in the gut,” says Adam Weber, a 27-year-old, third-generation grower in Quincy in Washington’s Columbia Basin. Farmers like Weber say they’ve already taken a hit from the pandemic and higher fertilizer costs.

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Canadian researchers pursue anti-virulence strategy in fight against common scab, antibiotic resistant bacteria

In the ongoing war against antibiotic resistant bacteria, a change in battle tactics may prove effective for controlling common scab of potatoes and potentially other toxins that affect humans and animals, according to Canadian Light Source Inc. The approach that Dr. Rod Merrill at the University of Guelph and his research group are pursuing is an anti-virulence strategy – finding or designing small molecules that inhibit the tools bacteria use to colonize the host and create infection.

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Idaho Potato Commission president announces retirement plans

Frank Muir, who has been president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission since July 2003, announced that he would be retiring in six months. When Muir took the helm at the IPC 18 years ago, farm gate revenues for Idaho potatoes were at a 15-year low. Nationally, the famous and once highly regarded Idaho russet had lost much of its sheen. Muir was brought aboard, he said, “to turn this thing around,” and turn it around he did.

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Lamb Weston to build new potato processing plant in China

Lamb Weston has announced an expansion of french fry processing capacity in China. “The french fry category is poised for growth globally, and China continues to be a critical market for us,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO of Lamb Weston. “This investment of in-country production for the China market is a clear example of our commitment to our strategic customers and supporting their growth plans well into the future.”

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How a tech entrepreneur went from potatoes to Amazon and back again

Two brothers in Western Washington’s Skagit Valley developed an IoT platform that uses sensors and devices placed on “big gun” sprinkler reels and irrigation pumps that can automatically shut off the water when reels stops unexpectedly. Cellular signals share the information to a dashboard that lets a farmer remotely check the sprinklers to solve the problem. They are joining the surge in research and startups in the field of precision agriculture and ag tech.

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Sustainability for the agriculture industry: The era of precision ag has arrived

In celebrating National Agriculture Week and National Ag Day the past week, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in the US published this article to highlight the role that precision agriculture plays in sustainability for the agriculture industry. “For the environmental benefits of precision agriculture to take shape, farmers need to generate more yield and at least break even from a financial standpoint,” said AEM Senior Vice President of Ag Services Curt Blades. “Technology now affords farmers the ability to do even more — things that could never have happened before.

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