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Fascinating: Amber fossils reveal the true colors of 99-million-year-old insects

Researchers have discovered the true colors of a group of fossilized insects, trapped in amber approximately 99 million years ago in Myanmar. The ancient insects include cuckoo wasps, soldier flies, and beetles, all bursting in metallic blue, purple, and green colors. “The amber is mid-Cretaceous, approximately 99 million years old, dating back to the golden age of dinosaurs,” said Cai Chenyan, the lead author, in a press release.

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Analysis: Changing consumer trends in Britain

Farmers and the wider food supply chain are used to responding to changing consumer requirements. However, it is hard to recall a time when the consumer landscape changed quite as dramatically as over these last three months of lockdown. AHDB has been following these changes closely, so whether considering shopping behaviour or the rise of in-home eating, AHDB has been reporting on the key issues which affect the demand for sectors’ products. Within this article, David Swales, AHDB Head of Strategic Insight, summarises some of the key factors which shape consumer demand.

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Trending: ‘The Age of Agrochemicals is Ending – It’s Time for Agricultural Biotechnology’

As Europe moves to reduce its reliance on agrochemicals in the farming system over the next 10 years and beyond, a crucial question emerges: what replaces them? Agricultural biotechnology could provide the answer, writes Farhan Mitha in this insightful article published by Labiotech Insider. The use of agrochemicals — pesticides, fertilizers, and plant growth enhancers — has been crucial to humanity over the last century. Yet, their impact on the environment has become too profound to ignore, and they’re increasingly seen as 20th-century instruments that are ill-suited for 21st-century challenges.

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Opinion: ‘EU and US markets are an ocean apart’

While the US market has tightened over the last few weeks as orders from foodservice outlets return and shoppers continue to buy more potatoes and potato products for home consumption, there has been a decidedly weaker tone to the EU market as it becomes apparent that growers have not cut back plantings this year and the weather becomes more favourable for the growing crop. This observation is made by Cedric Porter, Editor of World Potato Markets.

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The Netherlands: Ware potato acres down, seed potato area up this season

This year, the total cultivation area for ware potatoes in the Netherlands has declined by nearly 1.8 thousand hectares to 77 thousand hectares (-2.3 percent), according to a report issued this week by Statistics Netherlands. According to information published in the report, areas planted for seed and starch potato use have increased slightly over the past twelve months; both by approximately 1 percent. The share of seed potatoes in the total potato area has continued to rise slightly again over the past year.

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Idaho research company put custom built plot sprayer to work

This tractor sprayer that you will see in action in the video below was custom built by Terry Miller and Scott Anderson for Miller Research, based in Rupert, Idaho. The company says the sprayer “is great for applying chemical to our research plots. This video shows the many features of our spray tractors, as well as how we calibrate for our sprays.” The tractor can hold twelve tanks for twelve different treatments. Each slot has a magnet that agitates the product in the tank.

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Report: Potato market outlook for the UK

AHDB has published its report on the outlook for the British potato sector. Says Phil Bicknell, AHDB Market Intelligence Director: “Whenever I discuss our outlooks, there’s always one question that crops up – why bother, things will change, what do you do then? The answer is simple – we revisit our outlooks and update the numbers. Like any forecast, it’s based on a set of assumptions, and it’s inevitable that we’ll get new information and better data. In uncertain times, there’s always a reason to wait for more.” Potato News Today re-publish the AHDB market outlook for potatoes here, courtesy of AHDB.

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Pandemic impact: Why American potato farmers are stuck with billions of pounds of potatoes

When COVID-19 closed down restaurants and hotels, potatoes headed toward food service had nowhere to go. It had a chain effect down to processors and growers, trapping 1.5 billion pounds of potatoes in the supply chain. While farmers across Idaho and Montana have given away millions of potatoes, they’ve also been forced to destroy millions more. Business Insider visited a potato seed farm in Sheridan, Montana, to understand the emotional and financial impact this has had on farmers Peggy and Bill Buyan

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Canada: Alberta potato farmers optimistic for harvest after pandemic soiled supply lines

Alberta potato growers are banking on a healthy harvest after COVID-19 decimated their supply system this spring. Terrence Hochstein, executive director of Potato Growers of Alberta, said the pandemic has cost seed potato farmers in the province between $4.5 million and $5 million in lost revenue. Alberta’s processing industry in terms of french fry production has decreased about 20 per cent this season compared to last, or approximately 7,500 acres.

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Potato Showcase week: AHDB to share market, agronomy, research information with growers

The British potato industry would usually gather over the course of the summer with events across the country, but due to current restrictions AHDB says it is facing the challenges of finding new ways to get together and share information across the industry. The Potato Knowledge Exchange team at AHDB pulled together a week long programme of information – 6th to 9th July – which would have been showcased in field activities.

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The humble potato: How it became a global food source and changed the world

A staple food for cultures across the globe, the tuber has emerged as a nutritional giant and the friend of peasants, rulers and sages. Even today, its possibilities are endless. So says Diego Arguedas Ortiz in an article published on the BBC’s website. He reference food historian Rebecca Earle’s observation in her book Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato: “Despite its origins in the Andes, it’s an incredibly successful global food,” she writes, “It’s grown practically everywhere in the world, and practically everywhere, people consider it one of ‘our foods’.”

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Univ of Maine researchers want to enhance competitiveness of potato rotation crops

A team of University of Maine at Presque Isle faculty members and students have begun work in the Zillman Family Greenhouse on a research project funded by a $12,333 USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant. The project aims to support Maine potato growers by enhancing the competitiveness of potato rotation crops through cropping system innovations. The research team is working to determine if mycorrhizal inoculant can improve the seed yield and plant biomass of oat and barley varieties commonly grown as rotation crops by potato farmers in Maine.

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Report: The global potato market hits record highs

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Potato – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. We re-publish a part of a summary of the report’s key findings below – the full summary can be viewed on the IndexBox website. The report says that in 2019, the global potato market increased by 6% to $140.5B, rising for the third consecutive year after two years of decline. The market value increased at an average annual rate of +3.0% from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Over the period under review, the global market hits record highs in 2019.

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Research breakthrough: Fast-maturing, resilient potatoes in Hutton researchers’ sights

New research by James Hutton Institute plant scientists has found that a specific protein encoded by the potato genome is a key component of tuberisation – the process by which the potato plant initiates and develops tubers. It is hoped that the genetic discovery will be harnessed by potato breeders to develop fast-maturing, more resilient potato varieties that will safeguard production in an era of climate change, work that is being taken forward with industry partners.

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McCain building its first potato processing plant in Russia

The Russian language newspaper Kommersant reports that McCain Foods recently started with the construction of its first potato processing plant in the Russian Federation. A Kommersant source in the market confirmed that McCain is working on a project building a plant for the production of French fries, which is reportedly being built in the Uzlovaya Industrial Zone in Tula Oblast in European Russia.

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US potato industry focuses on re-establishing, growing America’s love of potatoes

The National Potato Council held their first ever virtual event this week. There’s been remarkable changes in the food system over the last few months because of COVID-19. That’s led to a lot of adjustments to the potato industry. “The versatility, the commonality and the nutritional benefits of the potato solidified our position with consumers—many of whom cooked their first potatoes at home over the past 90 days,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Despite the hardships that COVID has presented, Richardson is still bullish for the potato industry.

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‘Fight Against Blight’ resumes in Britain: Now accepting blight samples, reaching out to volunteer scouts

British potato growers are able to submit fresh blight samples for analysis again as the James Hutton Institute (JHI) re-opens its labs. AHDB reports that the news will be welcome to potato growers following a number of blight warnings around the UK in the last few days. JHI was previously unable to accept samples due to government restrictions. The service offers growers a chance to contribute to ongoing work genotyping strains of blight. It relies on ‘blight scouts’ submitting samples from potato crops.

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Potato consumption rebound in Canada put squeeze on reduced acreage

Potato acres across Canada are expected to be down for 2020, due to contract volume cuts in March as the pandemic lockdown hit North America, writes Shel Zolkewich in an article published by Spudsmart magazine. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told Zolkewich in a phone interview. “We thought we would have far too many potatoes in the market – and now, the opposite is happening in many areas.”

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Kiremko commissions fry lines with the newly developed ‘Kiremko remote service’

Processing equipment manufacturer Kiremko were awarded the contracts to supply landmark state-of-the art fry lines in North America and North Africa. The company says these totally up-to-date, complete lines were largely constructed in The Netherlands and shipped to their destinations just as the COVID-19 restrictions were being applied. This presented Kiremko with a real opportunity to employ a new way of installing fry lines that had been under development for some time internally and in collaboration with their associates, called the Kiremko Remote Service and uses state-of-the-art “Augmented Reality”.

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AHDB: Dealing with aphids in Britain during 2020 and beyond

The management of aphids, particularly those that transmit viruses, has been a focus of concern for potato growers in recent seasons in Britain. AHDB (virtually) sat down with Crop Protection Senior Scientist for Pests, Dr Sue Cowgill, to talk monitoring, testing and research projects that will help growers manage the issue.

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Croatia sees major increase in potato imports, especially seed potatoes

During the first three months of 2020 Croatia imported 16,064 tonnes of potato seed, including new and mature table potatoes – all of which worth €8.03 million, almost half of the total value of potatoes imported in 2019, according to an analysis by the Smarter Consultancy company. Smarter Consultancy believes that it is necessary to consolidate farmland devoted to potato cultivation in Croatia, and at the same time increase yields per hectare – and furthermore give the potato crop the status of a special vegetable so as to create possibilities to apply for EU funding.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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