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PhD opportunity: ‘Applications of machine learning to precision potato blackleg prediction’

Among the most destructive of plant pathogens are the bacteria that cause blackleg and soft rot of potatoes. Several approaches have been studied to control blackleg, but the degree of success has been variable. This is because the processes underlying the establishment and spread of blackleg largely remain unknown. James Hutton Institute in the UK is now offering a unique opportunity[Read[Read More…]

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Pennsylvania potato growers review lessons from 2017 season; updated on spud trials

More than 50 growers attended Eastern Pennsylvania Potato Day on March 6. The annual meeting featured variety trial reviews, extension information, presentations on various controls for disease management, and discussions on seed certification, pest control and plant health. Mike Peck, a research technologist for plant pathology and environmental microbiology with Penn State’s potato research program, reported on findings from the 2017 potato[Read[Read More…]

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New World Bank book on Peruvian agriculture highlights native potato value chains

A book on Peruvian agriculture recently published by the World Bank highlights the dynamism of the sector and its impressive growth in the past decade. However, closer analysis shows how the vast majority of smallholders in the Andean highlands and Amazon have seen little progress. Yet there is some good news for Andean farmers, since a growing number have been able to[Read[Read More…]

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For the long haul: South Africa’s running potato pathology professor chasing after spud diseases

Jacquie van der Waals is not only a professor of potato pathology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa – she is also a recognized national 10km and cross country runner in that country. Yesterday she came third in her age group during the national sprint triathlon championships in South Africa. Other running achievements include being South African Cross[Read[Read More…]

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Videos: What soil health testing method could work for you?

Soil testing is an important management practice on all farms, whether growing potatoes or pasture for livestock. It’s nearly impossible to determine what a soil needs to be productive, without a soil analysis. Experts view soil testing as an important tool – although not an absolute science – that allows producers to make more qualified fertility management decisions. AHDB Horticulture TV in[Read[Read More…]

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British trials show water conservation product can improve potato yields

Trials have proven that using a water conservation agent can significantly increase potato yields, which could bring in an extra £1,100 per hectare while reducing irrigation water use by approximately 25%. These results come at a key time for the agricultural industry as many growers look to consider how they can reduce water consumption and improve farm efficiency. One farmer[Read[Read More…]

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Video: Newest Strategic Potato Farm in Great Britain aims to maximise quality in store

RJ & AE Godfrey, a mixed arable farm in North Lincolnshire in the UK is the newest Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm. On-farm events will begin in June. The SPot Farm programme up-scales the research and demonstrates the on-farm implementation of the science related to potato production. The initiative, part of an annual £1m+ AHDB investment in its Farm Excellence network, offers growers[Read[Read More…]

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Interactive map shows how the Great Potato Famine transformed Ireland

The Irish Potato Famine was the single deadliest disaster in Irish history, and its effects can still be felt today. The main cause of the famine was the failure of the potato crop for successive years due to late blight, which resulted in mass starvation and death from sickness and malnutrition. In addition to the death of one million Irish peasants,[Read[Read More…]

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Still on top: Another record year for the Belgian potato processing industry

The record year of 2016 for the Belgian potato processing industry continued into 2017, according to Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and processing industry association. In a press release issued today, it is noted that the Belgian potato industry developed into one of the fastest growing sectors in the Belgian food industry during the past few years. Partly thanks to[Read[Read More…]

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In Victorian Britain, poor rural areas had the best diet and health – and potatoes were part of it…

It seems counter-intuitive but in the 19th century, the poor were better off than the rich, health and diet wise. A new study found that these rural societies enjoyed a more traditional lifestyle, eating high-quality foods and were overall better fed than their richer, urban counterparts. We often talk about eating like “the good old days” and most of the time, that’s[Read[Read More…]

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This nutritive ‘golden potato’ is the latest GMO superfood

Sufferers of malnutrition in the global south could soon find help from an unlikely source: a humble potato, genetically tweaked to provide substantial doses of vitamins A and E, both crucial nutrients for health. Dubbed the “golden potato,” boosted levels of provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A by digestive enzymes when eaten. The potato was genetically engineered in Italy using[Read[Read More…]

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Kenya, Ireland team up to improve potato farming

The Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya and Ireland have launched a programme to improve potato farming in Kenya. The launch on Wednesday was officiated by Ireland Minister for Public Works Kelvin Moran and attended by top Agriculture ministry officials from both countries as well as the Ireland ambassador. The programme seeks to address the entire chain from soil testing, soil management, quality[Read[Read More…]

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Small is beautiful: Innovative technology delivers ‘highest quality early generation seed potatoes’

Having grown to a team of over 150 people and with established global operations in Canada, China, India, Africa and the Middle East, Technico can provide services to its clients wherever they are located. “Our greenhouse operation in New Brunswick, Canada is run by an all-Canadian team of hardworking, mature women,” says Production Supervisor, Darlene Hogan. “We started our greenhouse[Read[Read More…]

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US: Wireless irrigation tool now connects with John Deere Operations Center

Lindsay Corporation has partnered with John Deere to provide growers with more irrigation data. Its pivot telemetry tool, FieldNET will now connect with the John Deere Operations Center. FieldNET is a wireless management tool that gives growers the ability to remotely monitor and control entire irrigation systems, regardless of electric pivot brand. The platform delivers real-time status updates and alerts about[Read[Read More…]

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Water management guide launched with new guidance on common scab control

The updated Seasonal Water Management Guide for Potatoes summarises the latest research findings based on AHDB-funded research projects, and work conducted at Strategic Potato Farms by Dr Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF. The guide is available on the AHDB website now, and includes the latest advice on common scab control, after work completed at SPot Farm East allowed AHDB to enhance[Read[Read More…]

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A ‘blood test’ for potatoes

A simple blood test at a medical laboratory can tell your doctor a lot about your health. Human blood tests were the inspiration for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researcher Dr. Helen Tai to consider a test for nitrogen levels in potatoes. She wondered if a test could be developed that would tell potato growers if the amount of nitrogen[Read[Read More…]

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Touchy-feely: Wireless Spud provides real-time data on potatoes in motion

The ‘Wireless Spud’ (Wireless Potato Node) is a unique device that helps in the identification of the exact locations where potato damage takes place when potatoes are in motion – from harvesting to grading to transport. According to the manufacturer, Orka Food Technology, the device provides real-time measures of shock, vibration, rotation, tilting and temperature to which potatoes are subjected.[Read[Read More…]

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Lay’s Potato Chip bags use smile power to help kids in need

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division is putting smiles on bags of Lay’s Potato Chips as part of its limited-time “Smile with Lay’s” campaign. For each purchase of one of the specially designed bags—which are printed with the smiles of real consumers—the brand is making a donation to Operation Smile, an international charity that helps young people who need surgery to correct cleft[Read[Read More…]

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Potatoes on the right track as performance food

A year ago, Potatoes USA members started a new campaign to market potatoes as a performance food. A year later, they confirmed that’s the right track. “We did research on what works and what doesn’t work,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA, March 14 at the group’s annual meeting in Denver. “Potatoes as a performance vegetable is something we can achieve.[Read[Read More…]

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Robot tractors that will disrupt agriculture in 2018

As the world’s population grows and the number of farmers declines, we need a solution to meet the growing demand for food and other ag commodities. Enter robot tractors, also known as autonomous vehicles. These autonomous vehicles can take care of such tasks as weeding, seeding and tilling, while farmers can control and monitor them from another location — often on[Read[Read More…]

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France: “Consumption of potatoes on the rise again”

Bayard Distribution is a family business located in the Hauts-de-France. The company produces about 12,000 tons of potatoes annually and it was founded by the couple Françoise and Bertrand Bayard. According to Françoise Bayard, the consumption of potatoes declined last year, but is rising again now. “There is a lot of export to Europe, and sales are going well; however there[Read[Read More…]

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Ukraine exported 3.5 times more potatoes in 2017

In 2017, Ukrainian producers reportedly exported 17,600 tonnes of potatoes to markets outside of the country, which is 3.5 times more than the volume exported in 2016. According to the press service of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy in Ukraine the monetary value of these exports amounted to $ 3.44 million. The largest buyers of Ukrainian potatoes were Belarus (10.5 thousand[Read[Read More…]

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‘Potatoes are on an upward trajectory,’ says Potatoes USA

There are consumers who love potatoes, and Potatoes USA’s fiscal year 2019 will target them. That’s not to say potatoes aren’t popular among all consumers. Board leaders showed how potatoes are consumers’ favorite vegetable, and that’s reflected in the board’s mission statement: Strengthen demand of USA Potatoes. At the USA Potatoes annual meeting March 12-15 in Denver, the board started with a[Read[Read More…]

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Potato math: US student wins $250,000 prize for potato blight solution based on mathematical model

According to a CNN report, New York student Benjamin “Benjy” Firester has won one of the United States’ top young science prizes for his research on potato late blight. The 18-year-old senior at Hunter College High School beat 1,800 students in the race to the $250,000 first prize at the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which counts 13 Nobel Prize-winners among its alumni. Firester’s[Read[Read More…]

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Blackleg in potatoes: Rapid and effective haulm destruction key to blackleg control

Scientists are getting closer to discovering the origins of blackleg infection in potato seed crops. CPM magazine finds out the latest research findings and how Scottish seed growers are acting on them. Over the past few seasons, blackleg has been the thorn in the side of Scottish seed producers, with the disease now the number one reason for down-grading or failure[Read[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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