Dear Readers, most of us – whoever we are, and wherever we are located in the world – no doubt live in tumultuous and unprecedented times in the current day and age. Some more so than others, for sure. But still – so do thousands upon thousands of farmers around the world… As an ex-farmer myself, I have so much empathy with them. A speech by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey delivered in 1978 speaks to this. Here then is the text and a video of his speech, titled ‘So, God made a farmer’ – I republish it upon popular request (and it brings tears to my eyes every time I listen…)
Just 10% of Mexico’s dams are now full, with many seeing levels drop below half or lower, according to official data, as Jose Luis Gonzalez reports for Reuters. July was the second hottest month in Mexico since 1953. Rivers have dried up to reveal cracked beds. Fields that should be teeming are bare. The earth is so dry that young crops are wilting. Surviving cattle are bony, their ribs protruding.
Potatoes can suffer from heat stress when temperatures rise. Heat stress severity depends on 1) how hot it gets, 2) the rate of temperature increase, 3) duration of extreme temperatures, and 4) water status of the crop and soil. Temperatures, at least 10°F above normal, that spike suddenly and last a long time under drought conditions, are the worst-case scenario, writes Associate Professor/Regional Specialist at Washington State University, Carrie Huffman Wohleb, in this article.
Supporting regenerative practices: McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods partner to launch ‘Future of Potato Farming Fund’
Today, McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods Limited announce a new partnership to create the ‘Future of Potato Farming Fund’ by investing $1M in education, demonstration, and cost-sharing grants to support potato farmer adoption of regenerative practices and technology. The new Fund’s goals are building soil health and farm resilience as Canadian potato farmers face the escalating impacts of climate change on yield and crop quality.
Masaki Shimono has joined the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno as a research scientist, studying beneficial microbes to improve and mitigate disease in potatoes during storage. He is looking into how long-term storage conditions affect potatoes in terms of water loss and disease decay due to plant pathogens. Soft and dry rot, caused by bacterium and fungus, respectively, are two important diseases being investigated.
Pam Hutchinson draws a parallel between identifying weeds in a potato field and wowing a crowd with a drum solo. She performs both seemingly dissimilar yet related feats at a high level as the University of Idaho Extension potato cropping systems weed scientist, and as a percussionist with the Idaho State Civic Symphony and the Pocatello Municipal Band. Hutchinson believes that playing music has made her a better scientist.
In the latest edition of its Grower Spotlight feature, Eagle Eye Produce celebrates potato grower Reed Searle in Eastern Idaho. Eagle Eye says on its YouTube channel, “Reed is an integral part of our varietal potato program. When most potato farmers in Idaho were focused on russet potatoes, Reed saw an opportunity to do something different – he focused on growing red and yellow potatoes.
Urschel Laboratories, Inc., a global leader in food cutting technology, officially acquired JIFCO Products, Inc. The business has been renamed Urschel South. All previous JIFCO employees are now Urschel employees. JIFCO specializes in CNC machining services to produce top quality, American-made parts. The company is one of the few precision machine shops in the manufacturing prototype industry.
Sterman Masser announces addition to family of companies in commitment to sustainable farming, growing better potatoes
Sterman Masser, a partner member of Fresh Solutions Network, announced the formation of the Lykens Valley Grain Company through an acquisition by Sterman Masser Potato Farms from Perdue Agribusiness. The acquisition helped to preserve jobs in the local community, continue to be a place for the valleys’ local farmers to sell and store their wheat, corn, and beans, and will eventually enable us to expand our potato packing operations in Sacramento,” says President, Dave Masser.
Canada: Another potato wart case on P.E.I. doesn’t change situation, ban on seed exports causes undue harm to farmers’ livelihoods
Despite the discovery of potato wart in another Prince Edward Island field, farmers and industry members say the situation hasn’t changed; the ongoing ban on seed potato exports is causing undue harm to farmers’ livelihoods and doing unnecessary damage to the industry. Potato wart is harmless to humans, but deforms potatoes and reduces yields.
With record-breaking inflation numbers coming out of the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the National Potato Council’s Eye on Potatoes podcast checked in with University of Idaho Assistant Professors Pat Hatzenbuehler and Liang “Jimmy” Lu for an update on the economic environment, supply chain issues, and geopolitical challenges increasing production costs for members of the potato supply chain.
Minimizing soil disturbance is one of the key tenets promoted to build soil health in agricultural systems. Many farmers across the country have adopted reduced and no-till systems to build soil carbon, a central component to healthy soils. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 1st Soils Matter blog explores options to improve soil health for crops that grow underground – like potatoes.
Idaho farmers planted 25,000, fewer potato acres this year, an 8 percent decrease compared with 2021. Idaho farmers planted an estimated 290,000 acres of potatoes in 2022, down from 315,000 in 2021, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Many people expected spud acres in Idaho to be down this year but the 25,000-acre decrease came as a surprise to a lot of people.
Potato farmers depend on Steve Johnson. At least they did for 34 years. Now Johnson, who retired on June 30, is taking his expertise to other parts of the world. He has harvested 33 consecutive crops of research potatoes, and pioneered an “electronic potato” that became the industry standard for calibrating harvesters to reduce bruising the crop in the field. He also has shared his expertise throughout Maine and across the world, in places like Australia, Guatemala and Macedonia.
A University of Idaho researcher’s predictive model shows soil temperatures last winter didn’t get cold enough throughout most of the state to kill volunteer potatoes in fields and spuds in cull piles. In addition to posing a weedy nuisance, volunteer potatoes and tubers that sprout in cull piles can provide a reservoir for pests such as nematodes and crop diseases such as viruses and late blight. Phillip Wharton, an associate professor in U of I’s Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, developed the model.
Potato wart was detected in a field on Prince Edward Island last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed. As Shane Ross reports for CBC News, it was discovered in a field adjacent to one where potato wart was detected in October 2021, which resulted in CFIA banning potato shipments to the U.S. in November 2021. CFIA collected more than 17,000 soil samples from March 5 to June 30 and testing on those samples continues.
‘FreshFry Pods’: Plant-based cooking oil filtering solutions launches in Canada, other international markets to follow
FreshFry, the makers of plant-powered pods that extend the life of cooking oil, announces today the expansion of its signature ‘FreshFry Pods’ to international markets. FreshFry Pods generates savings to restaurant owners in a multitude of areas including less overall oil usage, reduced build-up of oil in and around fryers, and lower labor costs for maintenance and disposal of oil.
The ‘potato vine crusher’: New take on an old invention could help potato farmers crush the weed competition
Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) tested the effectiveness of previously designed equipment, the ‘potato vine crusher’, on reducing common lambs quarter, redroot pigweed, barnyard grass, yellow foxtail and volunteer canola weeds that are found in potato crops. The results of the potato vine crusher’s ability to reduce weed pressure was impressive for Dr. McKenzie-Gopsill and his team at AAFC.
While many have heard of the Caribou Russet variety of potato, many may not know one of the faces behind it’s creation. Brian Bouchard spoke with one of the researchers who is being honored internationally for his work – Greg Porter, Professor of Agronomy for the University of Maine. He said he never intended to become a researcher. Porter received the Honorary Life Membership Award from the Potato Association of America (PAA), the highest award they can bestow.
Mister Bee Potato Chips announced it is expanding its private label co-packing services to add to its chip making for retail outlets. The small woman-owned business upgraded its entire facilities, providing optimum opportunities for expanding its production to make custom chips for other snack companies, grocery chains, convenience stores and private organizations.
Report: Sharp rise in input costs, increased holding levels impacting planted potato acreage in Canada
Earlier this month Statistics Canada released their first estimate of potato acreage in Canada as a result of data obtained from their survey of potato growers in Canada. The 2022 potato acreage is estimated at 385,128 acres. This is almost flat compared to 2021, only 242 acres more. Significant rises in input costs – fertilizer and fuel predominantly – coupled with increased holding levels in some of the Eastern provinces, impacted seeded acreage in 2022.
Canada: Trudeau moves forward with fertilizer reduction climate policy, ag ministers express ‘profound disappointment’
Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has decided to move forward with his cap on nitrogen emissions by reducing fertilizer use even as provincial Agriculture Ministers beg him to stop, reports Thomas Lambert in a news story published by The Counter Signal. As per a Government of Saskatchewan news release, both the Alberta and Saskatchewan Ministers of Agriculture have expressed “profound disappointment”.
The annual Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program Field Day, hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Barrett Potato Farms, will be July 27. This year there are 180 potato clones — russets, chippers, reds, yellows, purples, smalls and fingerlings — including Texas-released varieties, advanced selections and some advanced clones from other breeding programs.
Canadian french fry giant McCain Foods Ltd. has sold its Russian potato production facility, completing the company’s exit from Russia. This latest corporate exit from Russia was part of a large exodus driven by both moral concerns of Russian aggression and punishing international sanctions that severely restricted the travel of goods, people and capital in and out of the country.
U.S. farmers started shipping fresh potatoes into the Mexican interior in May, about 20 years after an initial deal was signed between the two countries. But farmers aren’t sure the deal will last, according to Jim Ehrlich, the executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in Monte Vista. “We’re really skeptical that Mexico will not find a reason to shut the market down again,” he said.
With testing completed on 5,000 P.E.I. soil samples collected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency from March to June no potato wart fungus has been found, as Kevin Yarr reports for CBC News. CFIA collected more than 17,000 soil samples from March 5 to June 30 and testing on those samples continues. One sample with potato wart was found among about 3,500 taken from Oct. 7 to March 4.