News April 2023

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.

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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.

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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.

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Tuber Talk: What’s in store for Canadian potato growers in 2023?

The past couple of years have been mostly good for Canadian potato growers, so how is 2023 shaping up? In this episode of the Tuber Talk podcast, Potatoes in Canada editor Derek Clouthier chats with Victoria Stamper, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, about her insights into the market and demand for the coming growing season, and some thoughts on what she sees for growers across the country in 2023.

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U.S. potato industry battling viruses: Innovations for a healthier harvest show promising results

PRAC’s Potato Virus Initiative has made progress in efforts to manage potato viruses, optimizing tools for PVY testing, and identifying resistance sources against PMTV and powdery scab. The project focuses on preventing virus spread, enhancing detection methods, and discovering new resistance sources, with successful outreach efforts to share research findings nationwide.

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Kenyan small-holder potato farmers to benefit from climate-smart innovations

More than 20,000 small-holder potato farmers in Kenya’s Nakuru County will benefit from several programmes aligned to climate-smart innovations and technologies to help them increase potatoes production both for domestic consumption and for export. Governor Susan Kihika said her administration was working to equip agricultural extension officers working with small holder farmers to train the farmers on modern farming practices that will mitigate against risks like drought, floods, climate-induced pests and diseases.

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McCain opens Farm of the Future in South Africa to ‘boost potato cultivation’

McCain Foods Limited, one of South Africa’s leading frozen food manufacturers, has opened its Farm of the Future Africa in Lichtenburg, in the country’s North West province. This is the second of three locations planned by 2025, aimed at gaining a better understanding of regenerative agricultural practices and their impact, costs, and benefits. The initiative, called McCain’s Farms of the Future, was first launched in Canada in 2020.

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World Potato Congress now to be hosted every two years, calling for proposals to host Congress

The World Potato Congress Inc. is now calling for proposals from parties interested in hosting the 14th World Potato Congress to be held in 2028. This Congress, once a triennial event, has gained in popularity and as such, will now to be held every two years. World Potato Congress Inc. says this great opportunity to host key players from the global potato value chain can prove to be beneficial to the host country and region.

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New potato breeding program on the grow in Northeast Florida

Researchers at the UF/IFAS Agricultural Extension Center in Hastings are set to launch a program that could change the game in the future for local spud growers. They will be applying knowledge to develop new potato varieties geared to better withstand Florida’s challenging production conditions.

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The next frontier in farming: Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to detect crop diseases are on the way

Blights are destroying rubber trees in Brazil and ravaging potatoes in South India. Unpredictable and erratic weather patterns brought on by climate change will only exacerbate these problems — and, scientists say, make crop diseases more likely to strike and inflict major damage. Plant pathologist Karen Garrett of the University of Florida, Gainesville, believes that artificial intelligence (AI) could be immensely valuable in fighting these blights.

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Abundant potato production in Egypt marks successful season, exceeds last year’s volumes despite weather challenges

The potato season is starting in Egypt and is marked by abundant production, high demand, stable prices, and no particular challenges except for a few shipment complications. Mohammad Hassan, export manager of Al Gamal-Plantix, gave an overview of the upcoming season to Youness Bensaid of FreshPlaza, saying that potato production in Egypt has been abundant this year.

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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.”

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Lamb Weston creates new position, appoints Chief Operating Officer

Lamb Weston this week announced the appointment of Mike Smith as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, effective May 29, 2023. Smith will continue to report to Tom Werner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lamb Weston. “Creating this role helps position Lamb Weston for further growth by integrating our global operating teams, providing a truly end-to-end view of our entire business that we believe will unlock new efficiencies and scalable growth opportunities,” said Werner.

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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.

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French fry crisis in South Africa? McCain says it ‘can not process frozen fries at the usual capacity’

The so-called “load shedding” is reportedly impacting the manufacturing of frozen French fries in South Africa, causing a shortage at some retailers and restaurants. Load shedding in the country refers to an ongoing period of widespread national blackouts of electricity supply. McCain Foods indicated it cannot process frozen French fries at the usual capacity because of this.

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Strong results: Lamb Weston continues momentum in Fiscal Q3 2023 with broad-based performance

Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. recently announced its fiscal third quarter 2023 results and updated its fiscal 2023 outlook. “We delivered another quarter of strong operating results and have raised our fiscal 2023 financial targets accordingly,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO. “We expect this momentum will continue through this fiscal year and provide a solid foundation for fiscal 2024.”

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P.E.I. Potato Board loses court battle over seed potato export ban

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada is claiming partial victory, after losing its court battle to lift the export ban on seed potatoes. The Federal Court of Canada has now issued a written decision, denying the potato board’s request for a judicial review. But the board said it did have some successes in court.

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Prince Edward Island potato wart dispute: Canadian federal court backs CFIA and Minister of Agriculture

The Government of Canada accepts the decision rendered by the Federal Court today, resulting from an application for judicial review brought by the Prince Edward Island Potato Board (PEI PB), according to a news release issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The Government says it accepts the decision of the Federal Court, which dismissed the application for Judicial Review because the decisions under review were either moot or reasonable.

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A new frontier in food production: Unlocking the appeal and nutritional value of mashed potatoes for 3D food printing

Emerging technology in the realm of food production has given rise to 3D food printing. By building intricate designs layer by layer, this innovative technique allows for the production of complex shapes on demand. Personalized nutrition is made possible with 3D food printing, rendering it invaluable for athletes, those seeking weight loss, and individuals managing diseases.

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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.

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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.

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Kenya to supply KFC and global restaurant chains with homegrown potatoes

KFC and other global restaurant chains will soon be prohibited from importing pre-cut potatoes, as part of a policy change aimed at increasing the capacity of local farmers to supply these international establishments. Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said: “We foresee that all varieties of potatoes used in KFC [restaurants] and other international food chains will be sourced from Kenya in the future..”

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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