North America

Researchers discover that Colorado potato beetles regrow muscles on demand

New research from Western University has found potato beetles can break down and regrow muscles on demand, allowing them to preserve energy over the winter, as Jeff Renaud of the University of Western Ontario reports in this article published by Phys.Org. This explains how beetles are able to save energy all winter, yet be ready fly and mate immediately in the spring.

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Fresh Solutions Network reveals potato farmers’ role in providing reliable, nutritious and affordable food

With increased focus on food security, inflation, and health, potatoes continue to gain popularity and grow in demand. Fresh Solutions Network announced the important role of their network of farmers and potato products. Fresh Solutions Network is a group of independent, family-owned farms that grow, pack, sell and deliver fresh potatoes and onions to customers across the US.

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Keystone to advance fresh-cut capabilities

Masser Family of Companies announced the launch of a new website for Pennsylvania-based partner Keystone Potato Products, LLC. The website showcases Keystone’s sustainability processes and products – highlighting their fresh-cut potatoes. The Masser family and other Keystone Potato product shareholders and board members invested in capital equipment to advance their fresh-cut capabilities.

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Little Potato Company constructs new packaging facility, head office

The Little Potato Company and Leduc County representatives in Canada’s Alberta province celebrated the start of construction on a more than 200,000 sq. ft. packaging facility and head office. The state-of-the-art potato packaging facility will allow the company to offer a wider variety of products. The facility will have solar panels to provide one full gigawatt of power each year and decrease water consumption by recycling and cleaning the water it uses.

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PepsiCo’s new ESG Summary offers first look at progress toward the company’s ‘positive goals’

PepsiCo this week published its first Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Summary since the launch of PepsiCo Positive (pep+), a strategic end-to-end business transformation with sustainability and human capital at the center of how the company will create growth and value. The 2021 ESG Summary details initial progress and real-world examples across three pillars – Positive Agriculture, Positive Value Chain and Positive Choices.

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Frito-Lay snacking survey: Consumers go beyond just flavors, look to companies’ promises when choosing a snack

The latest U.S. Trend Index from Frito-Lay polled consumers on their snacking preferences and priorities and found that the 90 percent of consumers who snack daily care about the companies whose snacks they’re eating. Snack companies’ attention to sustainability practices (77 percent), community impact around food access (78 percent), and treatment of employees (87 percent) are among the top values driving purchasing decisions.

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Supplemental calcium application to mitigate heat stress: The importance of root zone calcium levels

Dr Jiwan Palta, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, is a recognized world expert on calcium nutrition. Jiwan has made important contributions to clarify the role of calcium in potato production. Over the years, he has given 4 outstanding presentations at the Ontario Potato Conference. In this article, Dr Eugenia Banks at the Ontario Potato Board makes a short summary of some of these.

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Sustainability trend: McCain Foods aims to power half of Maine plant with ‘solar gardens’

McCain Foods hopes to make one of America’s favorite guilty pleasures a little more virtuous with a new companywide push for sustainable production practices. As Lucas Dufalla reports for the Sun Journal, the Canadian-based company has pledged to convert to fully renewable energy at its plants by 2030, starting with the creation of five community ‘solar gardens’ to power 50 percent of its plant in Maine’s Aroostook County town of Easton on the Canadian border.

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‘Waste less’: New U of I potato storage researcher aims to minimize post-harvest losses

Gustavo Teixeira knows the best way to supply more food to a growing population is by wasting less of it. As a new assistant professor and potato postharvest physiologist with University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Teixeira will use advanced scientific techniques to help Idaho potato growers, processors and shippers waste fewer of the spuds they harvest.

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NRCS Idaho and Simplot teaming up to help Idaho agriculture

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the J.R. Simplot Company signed a memorandum of agreement on June 28, outlining ways they plan to work cooperatively with their mutual customers to support crop production and conservation activities that advance soil health and water quality, as well as farm profitability.

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World Potato Congress Inc announces new President and Vice-President

Following 16 years of dedicated service to the World Potato Congress Inc.’s Board of Directors, and the past four years as President, Romain Cools has decided to retire from WPC and effective July 1, 2022 he is stepping down as President and CEO of the World Potato Congress (WPC) Inc. Mr. Cools has announced Mr. John Griffin will become the new President and CEO of the World Potato Congress (WPC) Inc.

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McCain to use digital technology to ‘transform agriculture’, acquires predictive crop intelligence technologies company

McCain Foods Limited has acquired the predictive crop intelligence portfolio from Resson, an analytics technology firm enhancing farming efficiency, based in Canada’s New Brunswick province. Resson’s vision-intelligence-based technologies leverage field data imagery to enable farmers to make better-informed decisions, leading to improved productivity from every acre of a farm.

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Soaring food prices push more Cargill family members on to world’s richest 500 list

How more sick can this world of “haves” and “have-nots” become? As Rupert Neate reports for The Guardian, a “giant leap” in global food prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped three members of the super-rich Cargill family, who majority-own one of the world’s largest food companies, join the ranks of the world’s 500 richest people.

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NPC President: ‘American potato industry keeps an eye on the future’

This article is by by Jared Balcom, 2022 President of National Potato Council (NPC). “Despite all the changes the nation has experienced during this pandemic, the U.S. potato industry remains as committed as ever to fighting for federal policies that protect our businesses, our families, and the communities we support. Whether it is in trade, nutritional regulations, environmental policies, or labor rules, we have seen firsthand what we can do as an industry when we stand together.”

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Biotech Opinion: ‘Trust, Critical Thinking, and Potatoes’

This op-ed article is by Dave Douches (PhD), professor and Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program and Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and Project Director of the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. “As a scientist working in potato breeding for over 40 years, one may wonder why I am talking about trust and critical thinking.”

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Vanmark’s facility in India ships first three peeler machines to customer in East Asia

Vanmark, an industrial potato and produce processing equipment manufacturer, announced earlier today that its location in Bengaluru, India, has shipped its first three peeler machines to a large customer based in China. The three peeler/scrubber/washer 2020 models, Vanmark’s best-selling models in the U.S., were fully built at the Indian facility. The machines include a new bent sheet metal frame which is more hygienic with an open frame design.

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Canadian research: Using hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality more quickly, efficiently

Currently, the traditional way to find out whether or not a potato is good to go to market is basic and old-fashioned – cut it open and look to see if there are defects. A new research project at Lethbridge College aims to use cutting-edge near-infrared (NIR) hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality such as internal defects, greening and specific gravity more quickly and efficiently.

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AAFC scientist honoured as one of 2022’s Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture

AAFC scientist, Dr. Christine Noronha has been named one of seven 2022 Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture by Annex Business Media. It’s because of Dr. Noronha that an important invention for farmers in the fight against pesky wireworms, a common potato plant predator, bears her name. The NELT™ or Noronha Elaterid Light Trap designed by Dr. Noronha in 2016 is a major breakthrough for the industry. She discovered the world’s first planted-based approach to controlling wireworms.

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‘Progress Together’: Lamb Weston issues new sustainability report

Lamb Weston Holdings issued its third annual Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) report today, reporting progress against 2030 ESG goals announced in its last report. “Our teams are committed to working together to make progress against our ambitious 2030 goals,” said Tom Werner, CEO, Lamb Weston. “We’re focused on our long-term future, which means making meaningful changes to reduce our impact on the environment.”

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Sharp increase in packing costs for Idaho potato growers

The cost of packing Idaho’s most famous commodity, potatoes, has risen at least 36 percent over the past two years. That’s according to a new report funded by the Idaho Grower Shippers Association (IGSA), which represents shippers, growers, marketers and processors of Idaho potatoes. “That’s a pretty big increase,” said IGSA President Shawn Boyle. “It’s pretty drastic.”

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Dakota Russet now approved for McDonald’s fries

The most recent potato variety to join the list of approved McDonald’s potato varieties is the Dakota Russet, developed at North Dakota State University by Asunta Thompson, associate professor of plant science and potato breeder. “This is a dream come true,” Thompson said. “Having our russet accepted by McDonald’s for their french fries is the gold standard we all strive for…

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University of Idaho researchers aiding in development of solar-powered weeding robot

A pair of researchers from University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are partnering with a Washington company to develop a solar-powered robot that will rove autonomously through farm fields and eradicate weeds. The company behind the project, Aigen, based in Kirkland, Washington, hopes to have a prototype of the robot finished by late this summer. The robot will have wheels and will be roughly the size of a shopping cart, rolling between rows in farm fields before crop canopies close.

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Technical advisory board named to support Global Biotech Potato Partnership

The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership is a five-year project managed by Michigan State University that focuses on the commercialization of late blight disease resistant potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria. The Partnership is pleased to announce members of the project’s technical advisory board (TAB).

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Idaho FFA launches pilot program of a new Idaho Potato Evaluation career development event

Idaho FFA (Future Farmers of America) launched a pilot program of a new career development event (CDE) this year, paying homage to the Gem State’s most famous crop. In Washington, FFA youth compete in the special Apple Evaluation CDE. Alaska’s FFA program has its Marine Technology CDE, recognizing the state’s important fishing industry. In that spirit, Idaho FFA now has the Idaho Potato Evaluation CDE.

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Do cows like potatoes? Inflation is causing one Canadian farmer to find out

As Maria Iqbal reports for the Toronto Star, Lieven Verschaeve is serving up something new on his 500-acre farm in Blyth in Canada’s Ontario province. The dairy farmer and his son, Ward, used to feed their Holstein cows dry corn grown on their farm. But seeing rising prices, Lieven began feeding his cows potatoes. Spuds have the same amount of starch, a feed consultant told them, and could save the family big time.

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McCain announces new ‘Farm of the Future’ in South Africa at critical moment for the global food system

McCain Foods Limited has unveiled plans for a second ‘Farms of the Future’ in South Africa, as part of its drive to cut carbon emissions and tackle the impacts of climate change. At Farm of the Future Africa, the potential to grow multiple crops per year, innovate with irrigation technology in a water-scarce region as well as the challenges arising from the presence of soil-borne pests and diseases make it the ideal location for transferring learning to other parts of the world

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Potato emergence problems: Checklist of common factors that reduce seed emergence

At times, potato growers may experience poor emergence of potato plants. There are number of reasons why potato plants may not emerge properly. Potato specialists Andy Robinson, Eugenia Banks and Steven B. Johnson have compiled a list of common problems that can cause poor potato emergence and stand. Utilizing this list can help growers more rapidly identify the cause and improve management of the crop and subsequent crops.

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