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On the 8th day: ‘God made a farmer’

Dear Readers, most of us – whoever we are, and wherever we are located in the world – no doubt live in tumultuous and unprecedented times in the current day and age. Some more so than others, for sure. But still – so do thousands upon thousands of farmers around the world… As an ex-farmer myself, I have so much empathy with them, dear readers? A decades-old speech from a conservative radio broadcaster in the U.S., Paul Harvey (who passed away in 2009) became a major topic of chatter when it was delivered in America in 1978. Here then is the text and a video of his speech, titled ‘So, God made a farmer’ – upon popular request.

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The new normal? How Europe is being hit by a climate-driven drought crisis

Europe’s most severe drought in decades is hitting homes, factories, farmers and freight across the continent, as experts warn drier winters and searing summers fueled by global heating mean water shortages will most likely become “the new normal,” as Jon Henley and Guardian correspondents report in this news article.

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Fact sheet: Managing blackleg in potatoes

This fact sheet on blackleg in potatoes was compiled by Hort Innovation and RM Consulting Group (RMCG) in Australia, and published online by AUSVEG. It provides information on management strategies of blackleg, the bacteria which commonly cause the disease, and what growers can do to prevent and manage it.

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Drought will mean poor quality potato crop and financial losses, British farmers say

The drought that has been declared for parts of England will result in a poor quality potato crop and significant financial losses, farmers have said, according to a news report by Claudia Rowan for the Independent. She reports that one livestock farmer said the dry conditions will lead to “inevitable” shortages, while a potato farmer said his crops are dying in front of him “every day now”.

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‘We need rain’: Mexican farmers ravaged by northern drought

Just 10% of Mexico’s dams are now full, with many seeing levels drop below half or lower, according to official data, as Jose Luis Gonzalez reports for Reuters. July was the second hottest month in Mexico since 1953. Rivers have dried up to reveal cracked beds. Fields that should be teeming are bare. The earth is so dry that young crops are wilting. Surviving cattle are bony, their ribs protruding.

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Thai promise for Australian potatoes

Australia’s potato industry has welcomed to two key commitments realised under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which are set to improve access to the Thai market. Thailand has now implemented zero tariffs and removed tariff rate quotas that limited the volume of Australian seed and processing potatoes that could access the lower TAFTA tariff.

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‘Very scary’: European agriculture hit hard by climate change and drought

With Europe suffering through an extreme drought worsened by climate change that has dried up rivers and left millions sweltering in triple-digit heat this summer, farmers across the continent are sounding warnings about crop losses, as Melissa Rossi reports for Yahoo News. Nearly two-thirds of the territory in the 27-country European Union is either dealing with drought or is poised to enter one.

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Potato specialist: ‘Keep an eye out for signs of heat stress in your potato crops’

Potatoes can suffer from heat stress when temperatures rise. Heat stress severity depends on 1) how hot it gets, 2) the rate of temperature increase, 3) duration of extreme temperatures, and 4) water status of the crop and soil. Temperatures, at least 10°F above normal, that spike suddenly and last a long time under drought conditions, are the worst-case scenario, writes Associate Professor/Regional Specialist at Washington State University, Carrie Huffman Wohleb, in this article.

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Supporting regenerative practices: McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods partner to launch ‘Future of Potato Farming Fund’

Today, McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods Limited announce a new partnership to create the ‘Future of Potato Farming Fund’ by investing $1M in education, demonstration, and cost-sharing grants to support potato farmer adoption of regenerative practices and technology. The new Fund’s goals are building soil health and farm resilience as Canadian potato farmers face the escalating impacts of climate change on yield and crop quality.

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Univ of Nevada researcher studying beneficial microbes, potato storage diseases

Masaki Shimono has joined the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno as a research scientist, studying beneficial microbes to improve and mitigate disease in potatoes during storage. He is looking into how long-term storage conditions affect potatoes in terms of water loss and disease decay due to plant pathogens. Soft and dry rot, caused by bacterium and fungus, respectively, are two important diseases being investigated.

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CIP, USAID execute gender-responsive program to promote, expand potato sector in the Republic of Georgia

Potato is a mainstay of the diet of many people in the Republic of Georgia, but farmers have trouble meeting demand due to average yields of only 12 tons per hectare. To address this dilemma, the International Potato Center (CIP) has partnered with USAID, farmers, the private sector, the Georgian government and civil society organizations, to execute the Georgia Potato Program. It uses a gender-responsive, socially-inclusive approach to promote innovations and improved agronomic practices to expand Georgia’s potato sector.

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FAO supports Peru’s proposal to establish an ‘International Potato Day’

The FAO Committee on Agriculture recently endorsed a Peruvian initiated project to have May 30 designated world wide as “International Potato Day”. The Committee aims to get the proposal approved by the FAO Council and Conference, and also presented to the United Nations General Assembly. If approved, the first International Potato Day will be celebrated globally on May 30, 2024.

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Australia: Ballarat potato growers ask McCain for 78 per cent price increase

Potato farmers in the Ballarat region of Australia are demanding a pay rise for their produce, claiming McCain Foods does not pay a fair price. Last season McCain Foods paid growers an average of 33 cents per kilo of potatoes delivered to the local processing plant, a figure that farmers said was well below the rising cost of production. The local growers’ association had approached the processor on Monday asking for 59 cents per kilo, a 78 per cent price increase.

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Univ of Idaho researcher drums up success as scientist through music

Pam Hutchinson draws a parallel between identifying weeds in a potato field and wowing a crowd with a drum solo. She performs both seemingly dissimilar yet related feats at a high level as the University of Idaho Extension potato cropping systems weed scientist, and as a percussionist with the Idaho State Civic Symphony and the Pocatello Municipal Band. Hutchinson believes that playing music has made her a better scientist.

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Storage: DMN sprout suppressant receives authorisation for use in Britain

1,4SIGHT (1,4-Dimethylnapthalene or DMN), a sprout suppressant for stored potatoes, is now approved for use in Britain, DormFresh has announced. Applied as a hot fog, 1,4SIGHT does not just burn off the sprouts, it will stop their formation and put the tubers into a dormant state. It is suitable for both the fresh and the processing sector, in all storage types and conditions. It is currently approved in 23 European countries, the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Brazil.

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Droughts in Europe: Almost half of the EU and UK territory at risk

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre recently published the “Drought in Europe – July 2022” report, an assessment of Europe’s drought situation based on the European Drought Observatory. The analysis of the evolution and impact of the prolonged drought in the EU shows that a staggering portion of Europe is currently exposed to warning (44% of EU+UK) and alert (9% of EU+UK) drought levels.

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Eagle Eye Produce celebrates trailblazing Idaho potato grower

In the latest edition of its Grower Spotlight feature, Eagle Eye Produce celebrates potato grower Reed Searle in Eastern Idaho. Eagle Eye says on its YouTube channel, “Reed is an integral part of our varietal potato program. When most potato farmers in Idaho were focused on russet potatoes, Reed saw an opportunity to do something different – he focused on growing red and yellow potatoes.

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France forms crisis unit to face ‘worst drought on record’

The French government activated a crisis unit to deal with the worst drought on record, and warned conditions could get worse, as Samy Adghirni reports for Bloomberg. “This drought is the worst ever recorded in our country,” the office of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Friday.

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In Memoriam: A tribute to Dr. Barbara H. Wells, Director General, International Potato Center

“The unexpected passing of Dr. Barbara Wells in February 2022 was a blow to everyone at CIP and across the CGIAR and our partner organizations,” writes Dr. Oscar Ortiz, interim Director General of CIP in this memoriam article, published in CIP’s Annual Report for 2021. “From the hallways of CIP headquarters in Lima, Peru to the field site of the most remote CIP and CGIAR science team, Barbara was liked and respected by all. Her presence will be greatly missed.”

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Offsetting produces UK’s first carbon-neutral potatoes

Morgan Scale is growing carbon-neutral potatoes in west Wales by using his cover crops and crop rotation to offset greenhouse gas emissions from his spuds and so produce for the UK’s first zero-carbon potato brand. His potatoes and those from five other Pembrokeshire growers are now available under the Root Zero brand throughout the UK.

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Tasmanian potato growers start ditching spuds after stalemate on price negotiations with Simplot

Potato processor Simplot Australia has refused to budge on its second price offer to Tasmanian farmers for their potato crop this season, according to a report by Fiona Breen and Tony Briscoe for ABC Rural news. Farmers say the extra $105 a tonne the company put forward three weeks ago is still not enough to cover the cost of growing their crop this season, estimated to be about $20,000 a hectare. Simplot said it collectively considered every cost its growers incurred.

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CIP’s Annual Report 2021 ‘From lab to field to scale’ now available online

The Lima-based International Potato Center’s (CIP) work to reduce hunger and malnutrition, boost farmer resilience, and catalyze income improvements generated benefits for men and women in more than 30 countries last year. To communicate some of those achievements and give people a sense of how CIP harnesses science to improve lives and livelihoods, the organization included varied examples in CIP’s Annual Report 2021: From lab to field to scale, which is now available online.

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PepsiCo India adds gourmet chips to Lay’s portfolio

Food and beverage company PepsiCo India has launched its premium potato chips brand Lay’s Gourmet in India to tap into the growing market for premium snacks in the country, according to a news story published by the website Mint. Consumers in India have been moving up to better, more premium products as affluent households grow in size. In the top metros too such households are driving demand for more niche food and beverage brands.

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