Drought, a recent hot spell and damage caused by frosts last winter have led to a significant reduction in this season’s early new potato crop in southern Spain, as Maura Maxwell reports for Eurofruit. As harvesting gets underway in the provinces of Seville, Córdoba and Cádiz, estimates point to a fall of 25-35 per cent compared to last season.
Europe, UK, Ireland
‘Potato, could this be the future of plant-based meat?’ Royal Avebe talks potatoes on the Food Matters Live Podcast
Royal Avebe is partnering with Food Matters Live in a series of new podcast episodes about the amazing history, versatility, and untapped potential of the humble potato. The company says in a recent news release: “The potato plays a huge role in the global food industry and has been a core ingredient in many of our diets for centuries, but there’s a lot more to the potato than at first meets the eye…”
Acrylamide and human health: New pioneering study to monitor acrylamide formation in real time in crisp production
Abertay University and Taylors Snacks have partnered to enhance food safety in potato crisp production by minimizing acrylamide levels. The project, funded by Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme, aims to develop an online monitoring system for real-time acrylamide management, benefiting the entire industry as it meets European Commission benchmarks. The collaboration highlights the value of science at every stage of food production and the importance of academia and industry working together.
McCain Foods and NatWest join forces to support growers’ sustainable practices with new incentives
McCain Foods, the UK’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, and NatWest, the biggest bank for business and one of the largest for the UK farming sector, have come together with an exciting new offering to reduce financial barriers for potato farmers who are transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices.
Vavi: ‘Dutch nitrogen rules endangering french fry production’
The Netherlands’ nitrogen policy threatens french fry potato production according to the Potato Processing Industry (Vavi), as limits on cultivation on sandy and loess soil aim to reduce nitrogen leaching. Agriculture Minister Piet Adema has set an October 1 deadline for planting a “catch crop” to prevent leaching. Farmers who don’t comply face reduced nitrogen permits, leading to less yield and income. The policy has drawn criticism for its rigid deadline.
British potato growers warned to be on slug alert
Where crops have been planted into cloddy seedbeds, slug risk will be high and potato producers are urged to protect against the pest as soon as tubers reach golf ball size, according to a report by Farmers Guardian. John Keer of Richard Austin Agriculture says the prevalence of clod and lack of finer tilth in some situations is going to increase slug pressure.
Wet weather delays potato planting in Britain, growers risk yield loss
Wet weather has pushed potato planting more than two weeks behind schedule for many growers across the UK. Cousins Peter and Euan Grewar, who grow a huge 650ha area of potatoes in northern Scotland, are anticipating a 5-10% yield penalty as the optimum planting window closes. “With later potato planting, we expect fewer tuber numbers and yield penalties between 5-10% – going by our yield records from late-start seasons in 2012, 2016 and 2018,” says Peter.
Scottish seed potato exporters eye return to Northern Ireland and EU markets
The UK’s DEFRA has informed MP Richard Thomson that new requirements allowing quality Scottish seed potatoes back into Northern Irish markets are expected to be in place by autumn 2023. While this progress is welcomed, Scottish exporters still aim to resume exports to former EU and rest of Ireland markets, where progress remains limited. DEFRA Lord Benyon states in a letter that Following the agreement of the Windsor Framework, plants, seeds, and trees staying in the UK, including previously banned seed potatoes and other shrubs and plants, will be able to move from GB to NI as they do in the rest of the UK.
‘On the wings of a potato’: Researchers develop bio-gliders from potato starch and wood waste
Researchers at the Sustainability Robotics laboratory in Dübendorf, Switzerland are developing low-cost, sustainable sensors and flying devices that can collect environmental data in an energy-efficient, close-meshed and autonomous manner even in inaccessible areas, so-called bio-gliders. The ingredients: potatoes, some wood waste and a dyer’s lichen.
Extreme weather conditions wreak havoc on Irish farmers, severely delay planting
Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President Tim Cullinan says the ongoing difficult weather conditions and incessant rainfall in Ireland are having a massive impact on farmers across the country. According to Met Eireann, March was the wettest on record while the first 2 weeks of April have given farmers little respite. Wexford farmer Seán Ryan told The Irish Times: “I haven’t one potato sowed yet. We’d normally have them all planted by St Patrick’s Day.”
Shallower cultivation depths recommended in wet season for British potato growers
Potato growers in Britain are advised to reduce cultivation depths this season to improve soil condition and work rates, as persistent rain stops play. With the optimum planting window narrowing, independent potato consultant Dr Mark Stalham advises growers to reduce cultivations by 5-6cm, since producing 28cm-deep beds will save both time and diesel.
Weather challenges impact British potato growers’ planting, weed control efforts
Potato growers in the UK are facing challenges in weed control due to delayed planting caused by a wet March, which saw 80% more rainfall than usual, according to a news report by FarmingUK. Corteva Agriscience notes that planting is now in progress, but maincrop potatoes are likely to be drilled later than intended. Persistent April showers may have also disrupted the application of residual herbicides.
Potatoes and geopolitics: Europatat Congress 2023 explores the future of agri-food trade
On June 6, 2023, the inaugural Polish edition of the Europatat Congress will be held under the theme “The Changing Geopolitical Landscape and the Future for Potato Trade.” The event, taking place in Gdansk, Poland, will explore the effects of current geopolitics on international agri-food trade and the implications of the EU’s Green Deal objectives and new consumption trends for the potato sector within and beyond Europe. The organizers are pleased to reveal the primary speakers for the event.
Aid scheme deadline extended: Boost for Irish seed and chipping potato sectors
The closing date for the 2023 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Seed Potato Sector and the Chipping Sector has been extended. The scheme is intended to assist in the development of the seed potato sector and the chipping potato sector. While the seed potato sector has received aid from schemes of this type in the past, this new scheme has been extended in 2023 to include growers of Irish chipping potatoes.
Potato Protein+Plus: A novel plant based replacement for eggs
As pandemics threaten our world and the bird flu outbreak leads to a severe shortage of chicken eggs, food companies urgently search for alternative solutions. FreeFromThat, a Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy division, has collaborated with AVEBE of the Netherlands to launch Potato Protein+Plus, a groundbreaking product to replace eggs in various food applications.
‘Potato-LITE’: Delivering novel, sustainable cultivation approaches to minimise tillage intensity throughout the UK
Defra and UKRI, as part of the Farming Innovation Programme, recently announced funding for ‘Potato-LITE’ – a multimillion pound project over four years, that will develop novel machinery and cultivation practices for UK-based potato farms to minimise tillage intensity, improve soil health and lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
Ireland supports Ukraine, aiding 10,000 small-holder farmers with seed potatoes
Ireland is to provide €450,000 in funding to a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) project supporting potato farming in Ukraine. The project will transport 500 tonnes of certified seed potatoes to Ukraine, which will be distributed to 10,000 vulnerable small-holder farmers in rural areas, according to a report by The Journal.
How a trickle approach can cut potato irrigation energy costs
Last year’s high prices hit potato growers in what was one of the driest summers on record. It may have led some to think about alternative forms of irrigation, such as trickle (also known as drip), which uses less water and energy than its overhead counterparts. But the choice is not straightforward, as Marianne Curtis reports in an article for Farmers Weekly.
The humble potato is a marvel – ‘but science can still improve it’
“So, the humble tattie has already had a major impact on world history, and together with the fascinating science underlying how we use them, makes me wonder why they are considered so humble,” writes Professor Lesley Torrance, Director of Science at The James Hutton Institute in this article published by The Herald. “Researchers, growers and breeding companies must adopt the new breeding technologies to dramatically improve the production of new varieties and sustainable practices which can withstand the changes in climate…”
UK: The Potato Partnership – a successful first year, but what’s next?
Clarity of focus coupled with modest, but realistic expectations explain the first-year success of the Potato Partnership, says James Wrinch, director of East Suffolk Produce and a TPP founding partner. “Part of our success owes much to the clarity of purpose that brought us together. We have been clear about our objectives, but just as importantly, we know what we are not about. Our focus is on agronomic trials, not crop marketing or lobbying government,” Mr Wrinch says.
Spain’s Patatas Meléndez inaugurates new state-of-the-art automated production facility
Patatas Meléndez, a renowned Spanish company based in Valladolid, which achieved a turnover of 110 million Euro in 2022, proudly embarks on a new chapter in the fresh potato industry. With an investment exceeding 36 million Euro, the company has recently inaugurated its state-of-the-art automated factory, designed to optimize potato quality while enhancing efficiency and promoting sustainability in the business.
‘Potato surprises’: Successful EU campaign continues to promote potatoes among millennials until 2025
Following the success of the promotional campaign “Potatoes, prepare to be surprised – Europe’s favourite since 1536,” which launched in 2020 and concluded at the end of last year, Bord Bia, Europatat, and VLAM have decided to extend the program’s activities for three more years. This joint initiative, co-financed by the European Commission under the EU Promotion policy, will run until December 2025 to promote fresh potato consumption among millennials in Belgium, France, and Ireland.
Alain Dufait appointed as new Managing Director of Lutosa
Alain Dufait became the new Managing Director of Lutosa the 1st of April. He succeeds Alain Duranleau, that held this role over the past 5 years. Alain Duranleau has been appointed Regional President of McCain for Continental Europe, Lutosa and Van Geloven, following the retirement of the current Regional President Erwin Pardon.
Planters: GRIMME UK repeating on-to-one Exacta demos for potato growers
Following the success of last year’s demonstration programme, GRIMME UK is once again giving people a chance to see the GL 420 Exacta potato planter in operation. Unlike other machinery manufacturers’ demonstrations, GRIMME UK has adopted a personal approach with growers able to see the planter put through its paces on a one-to-one basis at their farm.
New Act enables scientists to improve crops in England
With the recent Precision Breeding Act passed, England now has the opportunity to capitalise on its world-leading research base in plant sciences and make agriculture more sustainable. Prof. Jonathan Jones FRS, Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory who developed a GM fully late blight resistant PiperPlus potato, says “After many decades researching the science that can make our crops resistant to disease and less reliant on fungicides, I am delighted to finally see changes in legislation that will allow some of these innovations to be applied in the field.