North America

Eye on Potatoes Podcast: LEAF and developing tomorrow’s leaders

Joining the NPC’s Eye on Potatoes podcast is Shelley Olsen of LJ Olsen, Inc. in Othello, Wash., and Chair of Potato LEAF to talk about how the industry is coming together to grow leaders who will thrive in the competitive global marketplace of the future. Plus, NPC CEO Kam Quarles provides an update on NPC’s efforts to support growers as the nation works to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

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Haith delivers huge improvements for Canada’s Little Potato Company

The Little Potato Company has seen some significant increases in throughput and quality in the eighteen months since Haith helped to modernise the company’s packing facility in Edmonton, Alberta. The company faced a troubled in-feed system for its wash line. The Little Potato Company was relying on a pair of old hydraulic tippers. Haith recommended replacing those two machines with just one Haith Rota-Tip SE. They have since seen their throughput double from ten tonnes to 20 tonnes per hour.

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‘The Gamble’ – The Washington potato story

The Gamble is a 60-minute documentary that explores the personal stories of farm families and their heritage. Through the colorful and touching stories of those who have endured the evolution of the industry, we learn firsthand the true grit that it took to survive and prosper. Those working in the farming industry in general around the world, will be able to identify with much of what is recounted in this documentary. Well worth a watch.

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Neonicotinoid insecticide resistance: Practical guidelines for growers to test product effectiveness

All commercial potato growers are aware of the fact that some pests have been shown to develop resistance against some of the commonly used insecticides available to combat them. In a recent article published by Spud Smart magazine, renowned potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board in Canada, Dr Eugenia Banks, provides growers and agronomists with practical guidelines on how to conduct on-site tests to determine product effectiveness against Colorado potato beetles in their area and specific situation.

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Latest Canadian Crop Report: Good potential, but hard work needed to clean up old crop later than normal

The Crop Transition Conference has been held for the past 12 years in Minneapolis. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was held virtually, says Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). In conclusion it is said that “The crop has good potential, but we are going to need to work hard, to clean up the old crop at a later than normal date, as the new crop transitions in on schedule.”

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Podcast: Tackling disease management and soil health

Disease-suppressive crops work in multiple ways: by not being a crop host to the disease, by actively lowering pathogen levels, and by boosting soil health so the overall growing environment is more resilient to disease. Robert Larkin, USDA-ARS research plant pathologist, joins Potatoes in Canada for this podcast to discuss the different ways crops can lower disease pressure, what farmers in Maine are doing, and all about soil health more broadly.

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Alberta’s potato stockpile 37% higher than average

Potato growers in Alberta province in Canada have a boatload of potatoes in storage. As of June 1, stocks of processing potatoes in Alberta were 5.37 million hundredweight, which is 37.2 percent higher than the three year average for stockpiles in early June, reports Robert Arnason for The Western Producer. Processing acres in the province could be 10,000 fewer than in 2019.

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Nutrisorb2.0 and potato timing of application: Still time

Éco+ is proud to present its bestselling natural biostimulant, Nutrisorb2.0. There is still time to apply Nutrisorb2.0 to potato crops, fresh or processing varieties. Marc Richard, President of Eco+ says. “We all know that timing is everything and now that you have planted, it is important to make the sugar movements reach the tuber in a consistent, stable manner. Nutrisorb 2.0 also helps move calcium in the plant which is difficult at the best of times.”

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Viewpoint: 70% of consumers say ‘natural’ food is healthier, but there’s no science behind the marketing hype

When you hear the word “natural,” what thoughts or images come to mind? If you think of flowers, puppies, fresh baked bread, or other wholesome ideas, you’re not alone, writes Jack Bobo on the Gernetic Literacy Project. Products that were once only found in “health food stores” or specialty stores like Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers are now available in traditional grocery and convenience stores.

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Lamb Weston-RDO Frozen employee tested positive for COVID-19

The Lamb Weston-RDO Frozen plant in Park Rapids had an employee test positive for COVID-19 last week. According to Shelby Stoolman, a communications and external relations officer with Lamb Weston, a team member from the Park Rapids facility notified the company of a positive COVID-19 test on Tuesday, June 2.

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Potato sales at retail soar in the US

Retail potato sales soar, increasing 10.4% in dollar sales and 9.3% in volume sales between July 1, 2019 and May 19, 2020, according to IRI. All potato categories across the retail store, except deli-prepared sides, increased in dollar and volume sales, according to a report by Potatoes USA. Fresh, frozen, dehydrated, and canned potatoes saw double-digit increases in both dollar[Read More…]

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Coronavirus collapsed America’s food system, but made for “a pivotal and magical moment in local food”

Sheldon Rockey weaves through pallets of potatoes in a long-retired high school gym as a small team of workers wash and package his trademarked fingerlings. “We just weren’t prepared for this, so there will be some livestock that will eat some gourmet potatoes this year,” says Rockey, who saw his innovative and competitive strategy of selling tiny high-end potatoes to a wholesaler supplying cruise ships and restaurants collapse in mid-March as the pandemic settled in the U.S.

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Total Canadian potato storage holdings 12.5% above 3 year average; some chipping potatoes may need to be imported

Kevin MacIsaac, General manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, reported earlier today that the current Canadian potato storage holdings figures were released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on June 1. According to Kevin, “good demand for table potatoes has lowered fresh supplies 15% below the 3-yr. average. Processing stocks are up 14.4%. Seed growers are also in a difficult spot with seed left.”

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Outlook brighter for Maine’s potato industry as coronavirus restrictions relax

After months of struggles due to the shutdown of the food service industry during the coronavirus pandemic, the Aroostook County potato industry in Maine is seeing increased sales as states begin to reopen their economies. Rather than going unsold, many more potatoes from the 2019 crop will end up on plates and trays across the country as restaurant-ready items such as french fries and mashed potatoes. Still, many of the traditional venues for Maine potatoes remain closed off.

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Idaho potato farmers stuck with mountains of spuds after COVID-19 decimated demand

While Idaho will continue to be known for its famous potatoes, Gem State farmers are experiencing a major gut-punch after the coronavirus pandemic mashed the demand for potatoes, especially the ones meant for french fries. “With an excess of taters that may go to waste, farmers are scrambling to figure out what to do with the 2020 crop of spuds. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants across the country to close down there is an overwhelming number of potatoes that could go to waste, according to the Idaho Potato Commission.

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Pale cyst nematode: The USDA takes more comments on potato pest regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has re-opened a public comment period on changes to regulations of pale cyst nematode-infested areas, according to a report by Chris Koger of The Packer over the past weekend. Pale cyst nematodes (PCN) affect potato crops. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service took initial comments twice in 2019, and is accepting comments until July 6 “on the science supporting the protocols, including the sources of the methods informing their content,” according to a USDA news release.

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Utz Quality Foods becomes Utz Brands; to go public

Snack maker Utz Quality Foods, LLC has entered into a definitive agreement with Collier Creek Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company, to form Utz Brands, Inc., a leading pure-play snack food platform. After nearly a century as a family-owned, privately-held company, the transaction will introduce Utz as a publicly listed company, with an expected initial enterprise value of approximately $1.56 billion, or 11.6x its estimated 2021 pro forma adjusted EBITDA of $134 million. It is expected Utz Brands will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “UTZ.”

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The passing of a beloved potato specialist, Warren Henninger

Ag World Support Systems Founder and Chairman Warren Henninger has died. Henninger was a longtime resident of Moses Lake, WA, He died from an accident while doing what he loved, working in his yard. Ag World Support Systems was founded by Warren Henninger in 1997 after spending 21 years with a potato processing company according to the Ag World website.

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Canadian potatoes are spoiling due to slow federal government response, says grower association

In a news release issued by Potatoes New Brunswick, the association says delays rolling out a COVID-19-related support program for Canadian agriculture may spell doom for potato farmers. While the government delays, millions of pounds of potatoes are sitting in storage and starting to rot, Potatoes New Brunswick says in its release. Early last month, the government announced a $50-million Surplus Food Purchase Program intended to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on farmers.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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