Europe, UK, Ireland

NEPG raises alarm on falling potato prices: Challenges and hopes in Northwestern Europe’s agriculture

Northwestern Europe’s potato prices have sharply declined, causing concern among growers. The Northwest European Potato Growers (NEPG) highlights that the drop is due to increased contracted volumes and a rise in non-storable potatoes. While the market shows low demand, the NEPG advises growers to remain cautious and emphasizes the long-term market’s strength. They stress the importance of storage and urge stakeholders to ensure a conducive environment for future cultivation.

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The ‘ChangeSep’ and ‘SmartFold’: The future of farming with GRIMME’s award-winning innovations

The GRIMME Group showcased its equipment innovations at the VDMA Information Exchange in Kassel on 26-27 September 2023. They introduced ‘ChangeSep’, a hydraulically interchangeable separator for modern GRIMME harvesters, allowing a swift change between finger web and deflection rollers. This innovation caters to the diverse needs of farms cultivating various crops on different soils. Another highlight was ‘SmartFold’, a patent-pending folding mechanism for mounted windrowers, designed for efficient potato harvesting. Both ‘ChangeSep’ and ‘SmartFold’ received silver medals from the DLG ‘AGRITECHNICA Innovation Award’.

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Royal HZPC Group takes steps forward after cyber attack

On Thursday, September 14 2023, potato breeder Royal HZPC Group B.V. became the target of a form of cybercrime. A large amount of money was transferred by criminals to their bank account. On Tuesday, September 26 2023, Royal HZPC Group B.V. announced with a reasonable level of certainty that the money is in blocked bank accounts and out of the hands of criminals. The company has started the necessary legal procedures to recover the money and assumes it will be successful.

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Agri-tech innovator HarvestEye appoints global aftermarket expert as new general manager

HarvestEye, a crop insights tool, has appointed Harry Tinson as its new general manager. Tinson brings expertise from global B2B sales in engineering and transport. Previously overseeing JCB’s international network and working with Wrightbus, he will now focus on enhancing HarvestEye’s technology and expanding its market presence. HarvestEye offers visibility on crop variability during harvesting. Tinson aims to establish HarvestEye as a global leader in crop insights. Vidyanath Gururajan, HarvestEye’s managing director, highlighted Tinson’s experience as crucial for their growth ambitions.

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Kiremko: Unveiling sustainable potato processing opportunities in India

Kiremko, a leader in potato processing, strengthens ties between India and the Netherlands through sustainable practices and innovation. During the Dutch trade mission to India, Kiremko formed key partnerships, notably with Asandas and Haldiram/SK International, both for flake lines with a 2,400 kg/hr capacity. These collaborations aim to revolutionize potato processing in India, emphasizing Kiremko’s commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction.

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The future of agtech: and John Deere nominated for DLG-Agrifuture Concept 2023 award, a leading innovator in sustainable agtech solutions, has partnered with John Deere to introduce Dual.Volt.24M, a system for electrical and herbicide-free plant care spanning 24 metres. This innovation led to their nomination for the DLG Agrifuture Concept 2023 award. The system’s unique feature is its adjustable applicators and camera-controlled row application, ensuring precise plant care without soil disruption. Their collaboration emphasizes both companies’ dedication to sustainable agtech. will begin pilot testing in 2024, inviting interested farmers to participate.

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Spain authorizes potato imports from the UK to the Canary Islands

The Government of Spain has authorized the importation of potatoes from the UK to the Canary Islands, excluding Kent due to the detection of the Colorado beetle. This decision is based on assurances from the UK’s phytosanitary authorities that the pest hasn’t established itself and that the UK has taken measures in affected areas. Imported potatoes must undergo cleaning to remove soil and harmful organisms, with a soil limit of 0.5%. Packaging regulations have also been set.

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European potato dynamics: Ireland’s stability, UK’s pricing efforts, and France’s yield predictions

In Ireland, potato home consumption and retail sales have stabilized due to colder weather, as per the Irish Farmers Association. New season Rooster potatoes are entering the market, but harvesting is tough due to late planting effects. In the UK, maincrop buyers aim to revert prices to contract levels, with more growers storing crops. France’s crop yield is predicted to be slightly below the decade’s average, with potential tight supplies in Europe due to increased demand.

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Canary Islands reject Madrid’s potato import proposal

The Canary Islands have declined Madrid’s solution to the potato shortage caused by a poor harvest and a blockade on British imports due to a beetle outbreak. Madrid suggested importing from other UK regions, but this is hindered by protective agricultural regulations. The shortage has led to supply gaps and price surges. The delay in seed imports from the UK also threatens future harvests.

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‘Potatoes Forever!’ campaign launched in Europe to promote sustainable practices in the potato industry

Europe has initiated a €3.2 million “POTATOES FOREVER!” campaign, spanning three years in France and Italy, to educate the public about sustainable practices in the potato sector. Funded 80% by the European Union, the campaign aims to highlight the industry’s efforts in biodiversity protection, water conservation, and eco-friendly farming. The initiative responds to consumers’ growing demand for transparency in food production and sustainability.

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Scottish farmers urge resumption of ‘hugely important’ potato trade

NFU Scotland has expressed its approval of the decision to resume the seed potato trade between Scotland and Northern Ireland on September 30. Before Brexit, Scotland exported approximately 22,000 tonnes of seed potatoes to European customers. The introduction of the “green channels” in the Windsor Framework will facilitate trade with Northern Ireland. However, Brexit has halted trade with Europe, prompting calls for the UK Government to address the situation.

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GB Potatoes appoints new CEO

GB Potatoes has named Scott Walker as its part-time CEO, effective from 2nd October. Formerly the Chief Executive of NFU Scotland for 25 years, Scott brings extensive experience to the role. He will also continue his part-time work with the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, focusing on government and supply chain engagement. Scott emphasized collaboration as vital for GB Potatoes’ mission to ensure a sustainable future for potato production. Mark Taylor, GBP Chair, expressed optimism for 2024 with Scott’s appointment.

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The battle against potato black dot: A comprehensive review of two decades of research and management strategies

Cranfield and Aberystwyth Universities conducted a 20-year study on potato black dot disease management. Their research, spanning pre- and post-harvest strategies, aimed to identify knowledge gaps and improve disease control. The potato, a staple in global agriculture, faces threats from black dot, a fungus causing economic losses. The study emphasizes the importance of technological solutions, like machine learning, for early disease detection and effective intervention.

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Dutch potato farmers sound alarm over harvest deadline

Dutch potato farmers are facing challenges in September as their crops are undersized for the October 1 harvest deadline. EU regulations mandate that potatoes grown on sandy soil be harvested by month’s end. Failure to meet this deadline will result in reduced manure usage for fertilization the following year. Starting in 2023, the harvest deadline aims to prevent harmful nitrates and nitrogen compounds from contaminating groundwater, aligning with a European directive.

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Potato exports from Ukraine in 2023 at record high, but prices and quality low

In the first half of 2023, Ukrainian farmers exported a record 19.8 thousand tons of fresh potatoes, despite tensions with Russia. This surpasses their previous high in 2013 by over 5,000 tons. However, this achievement highlights concerns for the industry’s future. Exports in 2023 were significantly higher than previous years, but the wholesale price was a mere $0.16/kg, insufficient to cover production costs. Additionally, 91% of these exports went to Moldova due to the potatoes’ low quality, as per EastFruit analysts.

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Royal HZPC Group B.V. seriously affected by cybercrime

On Thursday, September 14 2023,  potato breeder Royal HZPC Group B.V. became a target of a form of cybercrime, the company says in a news release issued today. A large amount of money was transferred to a bank account of criminals. “We are working together with the banks and the police to limit the damage. The outcome of this is still far from certain. An external forensic investigation has started,” the company press release reads.

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EUROPLANT establishes subsidiary in Spain

EUROPLANT Pflanzenzucht GmbH recently announced that it has established a subsidiary in Spain to expand its market presence in the Mediterranean region. From now on EUROPLANT ESPAÑA Semillas S.L. will be responsible for the distribution of the modern and high-performance potato varieties in Spain. “In order to strengthen our presence and customer support, we have decided to establish EUROPLANT ESPAÑA. Our team will operate from Sevilla, covering all cultivation regions and providing competent support to our customers,” according to Joerg Renatus, CEO of EUROPLANT Pflanzenzucht GmbH.

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European potato market: IFA provides a glimpse into current trends and future predictions

Unseasonal heatwaves in Ireland and the UK have temporarily dampened the potato market. While Ireland sees a recovery with a rising demand for Kerr Pinks, known for their excellent eating quality, yields remain inconsistent. Early crops in Ireland fare better than the later ones. The UK market faces pricing pressures due to the weather. In Europe, seed availability might influence next season’s planting. Despite current price pressures, demand from Poland, Spain, and Italy is anticipated to grow as the season advances.

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Avoiding storage pitfalls: The importance of dry, cool, and disease-free potato storage facilities

Adrian Cunnington from Potato Storage Insight (PSI) offers guidance to growers on optimal potato storage. Emphasizing the significance of proper skin set and ventilation, he warns against the risks of blight and blackleg diseases reported pre-harvest. Quick storage with effective drying is crucial, especially amidst disease threats. Managing crop temperatures during loading and avoiding crop moisture are vital to maintain tuber quality and ensure successful storage.

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Leadership shift at Restrain: Dr. Benedikt Cramer takes helm as new MD

Restrain, a leading provider of ethylene-based sprout control solutions, has appointed Dr. Benedikt Cramer as its new Managing Director. Former MD, Dirk Garos, will become Strategic Director. Dr. Cramer, previously Managing Director at Nufarm Germany, aims to drive Restrain’s growth and strategic vision. He emphasizes the potential of Restrain’s technology to revolutionize crop storage and support a sustainable food chain. Dirk Garos praised Cramer’s agrochemical background and leadership skills, believing he will further Restrain’s global expansion.

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Solynta’s executive shift: Peter Poortinga steps up as CEO, ushering in a new era of potato breeding

Dutch hybrid potato breeder, Solynta, has appointed Peter Poortinga as its new CEO, succeeding co-founder Hein Kruyt, who will now serve as CFO. Poortinga, former CEO of Plukon Food Group, has a background in potato science from Wageningen University. He believes in Solynta’s innovative approach to potato breeding, emphasizing its potential for sustainability and global food security. With this change, Juergen Steinemann, with vast experience in the agriculture and food industry, will become Chairman of Solynta’s Supervisory Board.

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Mixed emotions: Scottish seed potato exports to Northern Ireland to resume, but concerns over EU exports remain

Scottish seed potato exports to Northern Ireland will recommence on 30 September, a move welcomed by Gordon MP Richard Thomson. However, Thomson expressed concern over the UK Government’s lack of discussions about lifting the EU export ban since March. The SNP MP criticized the government’s handling of Brexit and its impact on Scottish producers, emphasizing the global reputation of Scottish seed potatoes and the need for restored export markets.

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‘Potatoes with the right antennas’: Origin of novel broad resistance to late blight found in wild potato relatives

Researchers from Wageningen University & Research, in collaboration with Tübingen and Norwich colleagues, have advanced our understanding of potato resistance against blight (Phytophthora infestans). Potatoes use receptors to detect and defend against the pathogen. While internal receptors (R genes) are well-understood, external receptors (PRR) need more research. A specific PRR receptor, PERU, shows dynamic evolution, challenging previous beliefs. Studying wild potatoes reveals evolutionary insights, potentially enhancing future potato resistance.

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TOMRA 3A raises the bar: AI-powered precision in potato sorting debuted at Potato Europe 2023

At the Potato Europe exhibition in Tournai, Belgium, TOMRA unveiled its latest-generation 3A sorting machine, enhanced with advanced AI. This machine, already renowned for its sorting efficiency, now offers even greater accuracy in distinguishing between potatoes and foreign materials. Demonstrations were held at TOMRA Food’s booth, where visitors engaged with the company’s potato specialists.

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