News September 2022

Tissue culture tech boosts Kenya’s potato yields

A community project that provides farmers with healthy potato seeds, cultivated using innovative laboratory techniques is significantly increasing yields in Kenya, an agricultural expert says. Kenya’s average potato yield per hectare is around ten tonnes but has the potential to increase to three times that amount with the use of disease-free seed, according to Anthony Kibe, principal investigator of a potato community action research project.

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Global potato market report: ‘Global supply to be lower’

It looks like being a tough season for potatoes across much of the world. The hot dry weather during the growing season in most production countries has had a severe effect on potatoes, as for many other crops, as FreshPlaza reports in an extensive overview of the potato market situation in many potato producing regions and countries around the world.

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British potato yields suffer in the dry with high storage costs to come

Potato yields in Britain are down significantly this season due to the hot, dry spring and early summer weather, and for growers putting spuds into cold storage there is the double whammy of higher electricity costs along with lower tuber numbers. The cost of electricity was about £21-22/t for long-term storage on the farm last year, says Mark Means in Norfolk. This season prices had reached £82/t.

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Lamb Weston’s processing plant in Oregon fined for groundwater contamination

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a $127,800 fine Tuesday to Lamb Weston’s Hermiston potato processing plant for repeated wastewater violations that contaminated the groundwater in nearby communities. Lamb Weston spokesperson Shelby Stoolman said the company takes environmental compliance seriously and is carefully reviewing the information it received from DEQ.

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Royal Avebe’s fertilisation strategy said to help potato growers achieve ‘significantly higher starch yields’

Due to the current scarcity of fertilizers, the ‘red areas’ and the increasing production costs, efficient nitrogen fertilization is becoming increasingly important. Patrick Riek, account manager at Royal Avebe, has full confidence in a nitrogen-reduced fertilization strategy for good cultivation and fertilization advice, as the company notes in a recent news release.

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High-flavor potato varieties: MountainKing re-brands popular gourmet potato varietals 

MountainKing has launched a re-brand of one of its popular, gourmet varietals with the introduction of its Butter Cream Potatoes, now available in three-pound poly mesh bags, the company says in a recent news release. “The new Butter Cream name speaks to the attributes of this yellow-flesh variety in a way that resonates with the shopper,” says Andreas Trettin, marketing director for MountainKing.

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National Potato Council welcomes new Program Coordinator

The National Potato Council (NPC) today welcomed new Program Coordinator Madeleine Poulin to assist the council as it promotes the interests of U.S. potato growers, their families, and the rural communities they support. “Madeleine will be a tremendous addition to the team,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO.

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Minnesota company produces elite seed potatoes using ‘in vitro’ technology

Valley Tissue Culture, Inc. is a Red River Valley business that has grown from an experimental concept in the 1980s into a multi-generational potato seed company today. The Aarestad family and their crew raise seed potatoes started in test tubes in the lab, and then grow them out in greenhouses. Valley Tissue Culture sells to 40 customers — primarily in North Dakota and Minnesota, but also in Canada, and as far as the states of Washington and Idaho.

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Univ of Idaho researchers developing nematode resistant potatoes

University of Idaho researchers are introducing genes from a plant in the nightshade family into potatoes, seeking to develop spuds that resist harmful nematodes.  The plant, called ‘litchi tomato’, has natural resistance to several species of cyst and root-knot nematodes.  “That’s an unusual trait to have such broad resistance,” said Allan Caplan, associate professor in U of I’s Department of Plant Sciences who is involved in the project. 

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Idaho potato crop showing ‘high quality but smaller sizing’

Eagle Eye Produce, based in Idaho, had been harvesting new crop potatoes for several weeks before beginning harvest for its storage supplies the week after Labor Day. While it is still too early to know the overall projection for the crop, early indications are for high-quality spuds with smaller overall sizing and a bit lower yield

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Tong broadens optical sorting options across its proven range of post-harvest equipment

Leading vegetable handling equipment manufacturer Tong Engineering has announced its latest product development, which will see advanced optical sorting options available on all new models of its popular fieldloader machine, the FieldLoad PRO. Designed to allow growers to effectively clean and load crop in-field and on-farm, the FieldLoad PRO is one of the latest Tong machines on offer with fully-integrated camera sorting facilities.

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Smart farming: Researchers brainstorm on potato vine removal

Researchers at the Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre (CMCDC) are looking for ideas that would lessen the labour of removing green potato vines in the fall, as Alexis Stockford reports for Manitoba Co-operator. The practice is pitched as a control measure against pathogens such as black dot, verticillium wilt, early blight and other diseases that carry over in potato crop residue.

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From spuds to famous potato salad: Reser’s opens new state-of-the-art Pasco plant

A new Reser’s Fine Foods plant in Pasco is a testament to how the company, which started in a farmhouse kitchen, became one of the most successful private businesses in the country, as Cory McCoy reports for Tri-City Herald. And an expansion is already in the works. While Reser’s has a wide variety of products, the Pasco facility will remain focused on the company’s most popular potato dishes.

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Potatoes as a ‘grain’? Tasty tubers again the target of reclassification topic in the U.S.

There is a push by some groups in the U.S. to reclassify the potato as a ‘grain’ – a notion that some producers find ‘starch raving mad’, as Andrew Weeks, editor of Prairie Business magazine, reports in an article published by AgWeek. Donavon Johnson, president of Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said potatoes are the No. 1 vegetable sold and consumed in the U.S. The push to reclassify is mostly for monetary reasons, Weeks reports.

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British potato and onion grower hit by eye-watering rises in storage costs

A Suffolk potato and onion grower is facing eye-watering costs to dry and store his harvested vegetables over winter. Woodbridge farmer James Foskett says potato storage costs will see big increases from about £30/t to £80-90/t for these. “So, the energy charges will really start to bite,” he says. “There’s slightly less energy used in storing potatoes and we don’t store them as long,” he says. Most will go in January to February.

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And then there is the matter of the ‘packaged, skinny little tortured spud’…

“You’ve got your foodies, you’ve got your chefs and then the category of bloody good cooks. But somewhere in there are the foodsters, people who simply like food and prefer to eat it without deep fried grapes, sun dried pansies or a jus,” writes Diane Cassere in a tongue-in-cheek article published by the Daily Maverick. In her opinion, “the most prevalent abuse of a vegetable is that of the potato. Manipulate the potato at your peril, it is the start of a moral decline let alone a crime against foodstuffs…”

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Retail consumers in the U.S. spent more on potatoes

Potatoes USA says in its latest monthly newsletter that potato retail sales increased in dollar sales but decreased in volume sales from July 2021 – June 2022, compared to the same timeframe a year ago. As consumer prices increased by 10.5%, retail dollar sales increased by 5.7%. The total volume sales decreased 4.4% from the same time a year ago, but they remained above volume sales prior to the pandemic. Dollar sales have continuously increased over the last five years.

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1,350 kilos of potatoes used to cook up world’s largest rösti in Switzerland

It took over 1,350 kilos of potatoes to cook the world’s largest rösti — a traditional potato fritter from Switzerland. According to a Euronews report, members of the Swiss Farmer’s Union cooked up the colossal 13 square metre rösti handing out portions to the crowd in front of the parliament building in Bern on Monday. The farmer’s union president announced the new rösti record, which beat the one set in 1994, when a three-square-metre fritter was made.

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The Restrain CO2 extractor said to save store managers ‘thousands’ on energy cost

Managing CO2 levels in potato stores is mainly done with large, energy-hungry fans. By not using your large fans, but instead using a small Restrain CO2 extractor, you can save one and a half hours of run time of the large fans every 24 hours, according to a news release issued by Restrain company. Furthermore, store managers can simply enter crop and storage information online and within 30 seconds the Restrain Energy Calculator will calculate how much can be saved monthly.

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Potatoes USA: Spud Lab ‘impresses restaurant chefs’

Members of the Global Culinary Innovators Association (GCIA) learned about potato trends and witnessed a culinary demonstration at the Potatoes USA Spud Lab in late August. While visiting the Potatoes USA Spud Lab during their event, they received an overview of potato trends in foodservice and useful resources about potatoes.

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UK: Why growers need to use sprout suppressant early this season

A combination of the high summer temperatures and growers being unable to apply maleic hydrazide means potatoes coming into stores this season will be under increased sprouting pressure. That’s why British growers are being advised to act early and treat crops with a new sprout suppressant, as Richard Allison reports for Farmers Weekly.

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Job opportunity: The Little Potato Company is looking for a field production manager

The Little Potato Company (LPC), headquartered in Edmonton, Canada has grown since its launch in 1996 to have products on store shelves in every province in Canada and state in the United States, operating with over 360 employees across North America. The company is now looking for a Western Regional Field Production Manager to work in Southern Alberta, Central Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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PepsiCo: Why there is an ongoing legal battle over the potatoes used to make Lay’s chips in India

Farmers’ rights activists say the PepsiCo India court case over its registration of a potato variety used to make its Lay’s potato chips, shows how companies which have registered plant varieties use coercive tactics against farmers to protect their interests. An ongoing court case between PepsiCo India and the petitioner, farmers’ rights activist Kavitha Kuruganti, has highlighted the tensions between plant-breeding corporations and farmers’ rights defenders in developing countries.

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Webinar: Elea specialists to discuss benefits, ROI of PEF technology for processors

Elea will host a webinar on Tuesday, September 27th during which participants will learn more about the company’s PEF Advantage systems and the benefits of raw product treated with Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) technology. Elea specialists will guide participants through the production process of chips and French fries – with a focus on the numerous benefits of PEF technology during each phase of the process.

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Remembering Queen Elizabeth’s visit to a potato farm in Canada’s Manitoba province

When Brian Bailey signed the Queen’s condolence book this week in Brandon, Manitoba, the retired teacher added a special recollection: The time the Queen spent two days relaxing with his family on their potato farm. It was July 1970, and the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, was on the Centennial Celebration tour of Manitoba.

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