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.
Europe, UK, Ireland
‘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.
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.
Researchers Julia E. Stockem (Solynta and Wageningen University and Research), Michiel E. de Vries (Solynta), and Paul C. Struik (Wageningen University and Research) conducted three greenhouse experiments to evaluate the effects of light intensity, temperature and the proportion of far-red light in the light spectrum on tuber production. According to the research team, their findings will help breeding for heat tolerant varieties and optimise growing conditions for tuber production in indoor farming systems.
Agritechnica 2023, set for 12-18 November, will spotlight the rise of autonomous fieldwork in agriculture. The event will explore the transition to driverless machines, the blurred lines between autonomous and automated systems, and the role of AI in enhancing robot capabilities. The expo promises a deep dive into the future of farming, showcasing innovations from manufacturers, startups, and academic institutions.
Despite facing challenging weather and late planting, the 2023 potato production shows promise. The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) predicts a harvest of 23 million tonnes, surpassing 2022’s yield and matching 2021’s. However, late blight poses significant threats in certain regions and tuber blight, will is expected to affect net production. With increased processing needs and promising export prospects, Europe’s potato market remains resilient.
In a groundbreaking move at the Potato Europe trade show, Belgium and France inked the ‘Covenant on robust organic potatoes 2023 – 2026,’ marking France’s first participation. The agreement, expanding on previous Belgian deals, promises more robust potato varieties and aims to boost their presence in fields and distribution. The covenant will run until 2026.
Unseasonably high temperatures in Ireland this week are expected to slightly affect potato consumption, but the return to normal routines with schools reopening should help balance it out. New season Rooster potatoes are entering the market, with prices ranging from €600 to €650 per tonne. European potato yields remain average, though challenges like late plantings and low tuber numbers persist. In the UK, lower potato prices are reported as growers prepare for the storage season amid stable chip shop demand.
Weird news: Walkers creates world’s biggest ‘billboard’ by turning 30,000 potato plants into huge advert
Walkers has created the world’s biggest-ever ‘billboard’ – a 73,532 square foot ‘cropvert’ – created in a British potato field. Yorkshire-based potato farmer Tim Rodwell helped the crisp brand turn roughly 30,000 potato plant into its biggest and most unusual campaign to date. The artwork is so big it’s visible from space, and outsizes the biggest standing billboard in the world – which covers 67,382 square feet.
Dyson Farming and Bangor University embark on a sustainable potato journey: Introducing the TRIP Project
Dyson Farming and Bangor University in the UK have launched an ambitious project named TRIP (Transforming Intensive Potato production). The collaboration aims to revolutionize potato farming using sustainable practices, with a focus on reducing water usage while maintaining quality and yield. Supported by Innovate UK, this initiative combines academic expertise and practical knowledge to tackle environmental issues in agriculture, promising a more sustainable future for the sector.
Ukraine’s potato industry is under strain due to a combination of erratic weather and geopolitical conflict, according to the Vice-President of the Ukrainian Potato Growers Association, Nick Gordiichuk. A wet spring and dry summer have led to delayed planting and lower yields. The ongoing war with Russia has caused a significant population exodus, reducing the domestic market. Input costs, including fertilizers and chemicals, have surged by 40%.
The European potato industry has faced an unprecedented year of highs and lows, according to Raiffeisen’s CEO, Ferdi Buffen, who opened the 33rd Weuthen Potato Day in Germany recently. Extreme weather, soaring and plummeting prices, and supply chain disruptions have marked this year as an “unimaginable roller coaster ride.” Despite these challenges, the industry is adapting and gearing up for future opportunities, proving that even in extreme years, resilience and innovation shine through, Mr. Buffen said.
GRIMME introduces the next generation of its EVO 280 potato harvester, now featuring a fully hydraulic drive system for improved performance and efficiency. The upgraded model offers enhanced user-friendliness with features like Speedtronic-Web and Speedtronic-Sep for automatic speed regulation. The SmartView display aids in operator monitoring, while georeferenced yield mapping is accessible via the myGRIMME portal.
In a pioneering effort to reduce the carbon footprint of potato farming, Branston, the UK’s largest potato supplier, is leading a project funded by Innovate UK. The initiative focuses on optimizing the use of nitrogen fertilizers and is exploring cutting-edge technologies like R-leaf and Piketa. The project aims to revolutionize traditional farming methods and is a call to action for the industry to meet ambitious net-zero targets.
A new body, the PCN Forum, has been launched to tackle the potato cyst nematode problem affecting nearly half of Britain’s ware potato lands. Led by GB Potatoes, the forum aims to unite industry and academic experts in a coordinated strategy against the pest, estimated to cost the industry £31 million annually. The initiative marks a significant step towards sustainable agriculture in the UK.
The new Bauer E-series reel irrigators have been improved with features that make operation and maintenance easier while maintaining their reputation for strength, performance, and durability. The changes include a redesigned side guard for easier access to mechanical components, a larger battery, and enhanced remote access capabilities. Users can store up to 12 different irrigation programs.
Following the end of the summer break, Ireland sees a surge in retail demand and home consumption, leading to scarcity of old season Rooster crop while boosting the new season crop market. However, inconsistent yields and growing costs pose challenges. In Europe, favorable weather aids crop growth, though central France uses irrigation for crop lifting. Demand for Scotland’s early maincrop whites surpasses supply, while UK wrestles with quality issues in M. Piper crops.
Crop.zone, an agtech company, has successfully launched its groundbreaking hybrid herbicide technology in Canada. The technology offers multiple benefits including faster desiccation speed for efficient potato drying, precision that reduces bacterial infections, and improved tuber uniformity for better yields. It is weather-resistant, ensuring consistent performance and higher productivity. The solution also enhances potato quality, extends shelf life, and minimizes post-harvest losses.
DOWNS has launched the I-CropVision, a modular and versatile optical potato sorter that can be integrated into existing installations. Utilizing Artificial Intelligence algorithms, the I-CropVision sorts potatoes based on quality and waste, offering three output options. The new sorter aims to address the increasing global demand for potatoes and labor shortages. It will be showcased at the PotatoEurope trade fair in Belgium and is available in various widths.
AVR introduces its latest innovation, the AVR Python, a twin conveyor belt system designed for potato farming. The Python offers high capacity and is gentle on potatoes due to its moving raised edges. It is easily transportable and user-friendly, featuring a robust yet maneuverable frame. The system allows for various positioning angles and independent height adjustments for intake and discharge outlets. Enhanced features include a frequency converter, electronic length adjustment, and compatibility with AVR Line Control software.
Global overview: Low potato harvest and high prices expected in Western Europe, historically high prices in North America
European countries face a potato shortage due to unfavorable weather, high nitrogen fertilizer prices, and past low profitability in potato farming. The Netherlands and Belgium report uncertain harvests, while North Germany sees high potato prices. France’s demand surpasses supply, leading to Spanish potato imports. The UK’s potato sector improves, but inflation affects profits. Scotland’s conditions are positive, but Brexit impacts seed growers. Spain’s early harvest benefits from European demand, while North America anticipates a good crop.
The European Regenerative Agriculture Market is set to grow at a 14.1% CAGR from 2023-2029, with Germany leading the charge. As the importance of healthy soil and diverse ecosystems becomes paramount, regenerative practices are gaining traction for their broader sustainability benefits. Consumer preferences are shifting towards sustainably-produced foods, driving the adoption of regenerative methods. This presents businesses with opportunities to capitalize on the demand for eco-friendly food production.
Glyphosate, a key herbicide globally, faces potential bans in Europe due to environmental and health concerns. Its prohibition could significantly impact European agriculture, especially high-value crops. The economic effects vary by country and farming system, with potential increased costs and yield losses. The decision to ban balances health risks against economic implications.
‘A new dawn for potatoes, rooted in innovation’: Intention to establish a National Potato Innovation Centre in Scotland
The James Hutton Institute in Scotland announced the creation of the National Potato Innovation Centre (NPIC). This state-of-the-art hub will collaborate with national and international partners to enhance potato production. Prof Ian Toth, recently appointed as the NPIC Director, believes the facility could be operational in 3-5 years. He emphasized potatoes’ role in global food security and their adaptability to climate change.