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.
Europe, UK, Ireland
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.