Ukrainian potato prices have surged to 15-20 UAH/kg ($0.39-0.52/kg), representing an 11% increase from the end of 2023. This price spike is attributed to dwindling local supply, exacerbated by unfavorable weather and subpar seed potatoes. Market players anticipate further price hikes due to a potential scarcity of high-quality potatoes. The latest hike reflects a 3.9-fold increase from early January 2023.
Europe, UK, Ireland
The PSI Potato Store Managers’ Course for 2024, led by Adrian Cunnington alongside Glyn Harper, is set for February 28th and 29th at The Crown Hotel, Boroughbridge. This year’s course introduces the BASIS (Stored Potatoes) qualification, focusing on practical and interactive storage management training. Early bird discounts are available until January 12th, offering a unique opportunity for both new and experienced professionals in the potato storage industry to enhance their skills and knowledge.
GRIMME UK has launched new money-saving promotions for growers, including delayed payment terms on irrigation equipment, with growers able to buy now and pay later on new in-stock reels. Flexible payment options are also available for carrot, parsnip, and onion machines, and a fixed price per acre on sugar beet harvesters. Nathan Hotchen, GRIMME UK’s Sales Manager, acknowledges the challenges faced by British farming in 2023 and hopes the promotions will ease the burden for growers.
In her article “Fries with that: How potato tastes tell the story of Britain’s changing diet,” data journalist Lauren Orso analyzes the shift in British dietary preferences using DEFRA’s Family food statistics. Fresh potato purchases have declined drastically since 1974, while processed potatoes have risen in popularity. The COVID-19 pandemic briefly revived fresh potato purchases, but overall, processed options now surpass fresh green vegetables, signaling a significant change in dietary preferences.
Avebe is facing a challenging harvest season in The Netherlands as adverse weather conditions have left 5 to 10 percent of the crop unharvested. The wet conditions have led to record-high tare percentages, lower starch content in potatoes, and reduced overall yields per hectare. These quality concerns are impacting Avebe’s campaign planning, forcing factories to operate at maximum capacity. Additionally, some batches are being processed earlier due to storability issues.
Joel Williams, a plant and soil health educator in the UK, presented “Soils and Nutrition” delving into the complex relationship between soil health and plant nutrition. He emphasized the critical role of soil in supporting healthy plants, discussed global soil degradation, and advocated for a holistic approach to soil management. Williams explained the role of plants in soil health and outlined practical strategies for improvement.
Agricultural innovators: Pioneering project calls for British farmers to help train robots in slug control
A groundbreaking trial in the UK will equip farmers with special rigs to train robots to detect and treat slugs in arable crops. The project, part of SLIMERS, aims to develop sustainable slug control strategies using advanced technology and biological agents. Farmers can participate in a webinar on January 10 and receive payment for their involvement. The initiative seeks to enlist farmers with a strong understanding of pest control and a willingness to embrace new technologies.
Potato market update: Climatic challenges and rising demand in Ireland, the UK and Europe as Christmas approaches
As the festive season approaches, Ireland is experiencing a surge in potato demand, leading to challenges for farmers. The high clay content in harvested crops is complicating yield predictions and causing storage issues. In the UK, there’s an increase in direct movement of potatoes from farms as buyers prepare for Christmas, leading to firm prices for chipping varieties. Across Europe, efforts are underway to harvest remaining crops amidst challenges like frost damage.
Pulsemaster has launched a compact industrial-scale pulsed electric field (PEF) system, designed to process up to 10 tons of tubers, roots, vegetables, and fruits per hour. It’s a revolutionary fit for small and mid-scale production lines due to its minimal footprint, rapid startup, and commitment to sustainability. It uses electroporation for tissue softening, enhancing food quality. Particularly beneficial for frozen foods, it enhances flavor and maintains cell structure. Pulsemaster’s new system illustrates their dedication to advancing food quality and production efficiency globally.
Tim Kitson: An inspirational story of resilience and a positive outlook in the face of great adversity
Norfolk potato consultant Tim Kitson, who suffered from severe head injuries after a 30ft fall from an elevated walkway onto the concrete floor of a potato store which he was inspecting in 2019, has received national recognition at the British Potato Awards. Besides overcoming physical challenges, he retrained his sense of smell, affected due to a brain bleed. His client, Lamb Weston, praised his innovative ideas and positive attitude despite facing significant professional and personal challenges.
GRIMME UK is releasing a new three-bed folding haulm topper, Toppa 600, in time for the 2024 potato harvest. As the first of its kind to be built in Germany, Toppa 600 will span six rows and is equipped with hydraulic depth control and a special blade configuration. It requires only a 140hp tractor, thereby reducing soil compaction. The Toppa 600, along with two other models, will be available with 0% finance and a five-year warranty.
“Particularly Good Potatoes”, a brand launched in 2019, has grown into a popular supplier of chips and potato products across North East Britain. The company, with a 99-year history in farming, is now moving towards carbon neutrality and sustainable agriculture. They have introduced a range of strategies to lower their carbon emissions, including soil conservation, planting cover crops, and planning additional hedgerows. Furthermore, the company is reusing water in its processes and reducing reliance on imported potatoes.
A rain-delayed harvest in Europe has increased the potato supply in the market. These lower-quality potatoes, selling directly from field to processor, have suppressed price increases. Hardest hit regions are the Netherlands and Belgium, with 15% and 11% of their crops still uncollected as of late November. Market players anticipate a price surge once these late-harvested potatoes are processed. However, there are concerns about the availability of free-buy potatoes due to the high proportion of early processed crops.
The Irish Farmers Association reports a strong demand in the potato market due to the festive season, leading to price adjustments. However, unusual weather conditions have hindered crop harvesting and storage, reducing the saleable yield. The situation extends beyond Ireland into Europe, with parts of France, Belgium, and Holland also facing challenges in harvesting due to cold weather and heavy rainfall.
Potato Storage Insight (PSI) has opened bookings for its 2024 Potato Store Managers’ Course, which will include the opportunity to attain the BASIS (Stored Potatoes) qualification for the first time. The course, led by Adrian Cunnington, will happen on 28th-29th February 2024 at The Crown in Yorkshire. The two-day program combines practical training sessions and networking opportunities, covering critical topics like risk management, disease threats, and ventilation.
Uniting forces: Europatat issues global call for information on projects aimed at wireworm control in potato production
Europatat, the European Potato Association, has made a global appeal for collaborative action against the spread of wireworms, a notorious pest impacting potato crops worldwide. Recognizing wireworms as a persistent threat causing substantial economic losses, the organization calls on researchers and industry experts worldwide to reach out and share details on ongoing or envisioned projects and initiatives aimed at the management of wireworms in potato production.
Adapting to change: New study sheds light on how European potato farmers confront climate challenges
A study involving 553 farmers across 22 European countries, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, reveals climate change’s impact on potato farming. Drought and heat, resulting from global warming, could cause potato yields to decrease by 18-32% by 2069. Current farming strategies aren’t sufficient, and effective adaptive methods could halve losses. The research highlights the need for improved potato varieties, better knowledge exchange, and a wider use of climate-resilient strategies.
Bauer’s new E-series reel irrigators offer several enhanced features to aid with operation and maintenance without compromising the product’s performance and durability. Upgrades include a side guard cover that uses catches instead of bolts for easier access, and a larger battery to power a touch-screen controller with capabilities for multiple irrigation programmes. The product also incorporates a ‘Smart Rain’ remote monitoring and control app and the Ecostar 6000 controller. These innovations make the Bauer E-series more user-friendly and efficient for irrigation management.
Haith Group recently celebrated the diamond anniversary of its mobile grader, which debuted in 1963 and has since become one of its best-selling machines, with over 300 produced. Haith continues to prioritise customisation and meeting customers’ bespoke needs. Their latest grader model, the PRO SF 2400S, bought by BH Savidge & Son, features all the standard options and is capable of handling over 100 tonnes per hour. Haith expects an increased interest in mobile machinery in the coming years.
This article profiles John M. Marshall, a pivotal figure in Scotland’s potato industry whose influence spans over six decades. From his innovative family roots to a career in various roles including quality control, market management, and research, Marshall’s journey represents the evolution and challenges of this vital sector. Alongside his professional achievements, Marshall takes active roles in education and advisory, sharing insights on future trends and challenges of the potato industry such as sustainability, changing consumer preferences and post-Brexit trade agreements.
Facing a tough potato season: NFU’s Tim Rooke addresses the crisis and calls for industry cooperation, pragmatism
Tim Rooke, chair of the National Farmers Union’s Potato Policy Group, has reported an exceptionally challenging potato lifting season in the UK, the most challenging in living memory due to high rainfall. These conditions have raised concerns about potential potato shortages. However, Rooke reassures the public that supplies should be sufficient for the festive season. He urged the potato sector to utilize every potato, despite shape or size irregularities, and called for an immediate relaxation in potato specifications.
‘DIGging deep’: Scottish tech firm harvests success at Potato Industry Awards with innovative management platform
Dundee’s Tayfusion wins the ‘Best Innovation – 22/23’ award at the British Potato Industry Awards for its DIG software management platform for potato farming. DIG Potatoes streamlines potato production from growth to sales, offering comprehensive data management. The software, developed with industry collaboration, includes features for stock control, quality control, and forecasting. Founder Mark Mander invites users to explore and demo the platform, showcasing its impact on the potato industry’s efficiency and sustainability.
The Irish potato market is experiencing a unique set of challenges. Retail demand and consumption in Ireland remain strong and are expected to surge further as Christmas approaches, but despite this, the potato farming community faces uncertainties. The yield dig figures for this year reveal a concerning trend for Ireland’s most popular potato varieties, Rooster and Kerr’s Pink. Both varieties have yielded lower than the five-year average. Across Europe, heavier than expected rainfall has significantly disrupted harvesting activities.
The 18th International Berlin Potato Evening, hosted by the German Potato Trade Association (DKHV), is scheduled for February 6, 2024, at Hilton Berlin. Coinciding with Fruit Logistica, this event will attract over 400 experts from trade, agriculture, politics, and science, offering a platform for networking and discussing industry trends and developments. Attendees can look forward to a lively exchange on critical issues impacting the potato sector. Registration for the event is now open.