North America

Lamb Weston announces $240 million investment in new french fry processing line in Argentina

Lamb Weston Holdings announced this week an expansion of french fry processing capacity in Argentina with the planned construction of a new manufacturing facility in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires. “Our investment in a new french fry processing facility demonstrates our continued confidence in the growing global market for frozen french fries, and our commitment to serving our customers in Argentina and the broader South American market,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO of Lamb Weston.

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Processing capacity adds acreage for local potato producers in Canada’s Alberta province

The southern Alberta potato industry continues to provide many opportunities in the region. “The potato industry continues to increase acres in southern Alberta, creating opportunities for local businesses,” said Jubs Bristow, Cavendish Farms agriculture vice president. With the new state-of-the art frozen potato processing facility opening in 2019, there is an increase in volume from 247 million pounds of potatoes to nearly 700 million pounds annually.

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Potato supplies look tight in North America

The potato harvest is underway in Canada and yields could be decent in 2022, but some in the industry are concerned about a shortfall of potatoes in Canada and the U.S. As Robert Arnason reports for The Western Producer, remaining stocks from last year’s crop are minimal, at best, and yields this fall could be average or below average in multiple states and provinces.

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Canadian ‘weed hunters’ set their sights on natural alternatives to herbicides

‘Weed hunters’? No, it’s not a joke. It’s a real concept that aims to tackle a serious and costly problem for farmers and their crops – herbicide resistance in weeds. The technique is called “abrasive or projectile weed control”. Using a sandblaster, natural materials like corn grit, corn gluten meal, and walnut shells are “shot” directly at weeds. Researchers found this alternative to herbicides was an effective way of killing weeds.

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‘Rubbery rot’ – A new potato disease found in North Dakota, Minnesota fields

Farmers got a heads-up during a research session about a potentially damaging fungus that showed up in the Northern Plains this year. The disease, called “rubbery rot,” was seen in North Dakota and Minnesota this summer and was found in Wisconsin in 2019. ”It’s a new problem,” said Gary Secor, North Dakota State University Extension plant pathologist.

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The infinite potential of the humble spud: Nautilus releases new potato-based milk beverage

Richard H. Davis, President and CEO of Beverage Marketing USA and Nautilus Mineral Waters of America, states that his company intends to produce and market a “TATORADE” line of potato-based milk beverages. The new probiotic electrolyte-rich sports beverages are made from the juice of raw Idaho grown potatoes. “The natural potato enzymes found in TATORADE Sports Milk acts as a super-catalyst for the conversion of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. The raw potato juice derived catalase is a particularly efficient enzyme,” said Davis.

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Protect potato crops from pests and disease for strong early-season stands that deliver

Potato plants encounter many threats in the early season, which is a crucial time for establishing plant health. Growers can reduce early-season risk with a management plan that addresses insects and disease at planting. Diseases like Fusarium dry rot and Rhizoctonia can infect seedlings, causing the death of stolons and stems, weakened roots and stunted plant growth. A broad-spectrum fungicide and a neonicotinoid seed treatment helps control insects like the Colorado potato beetle, aphids, potato psyllid and leafhoppers.

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FPS Food Process Solutions continues growth expansion with senior appointments

FPS Food Process Solutions, with headquarters in Canada and a global leader in turn-key freezing and cooling equipment, announces internal senior appointments for continued growth expansion. “These appointments are a testament to our continued growth in major markets around the world,” said Jeffrey Chang, President, FPS Food Process Solutions Corp.

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Potatoes USA: Retail sales of potatoes increased in dollar value April – June 2022

Potato retail sales increased in dollar sales and decreased slightly in volume from April – June 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, according to Potatoes USA. The industry body says as prices increased by 13.6%, dollar sales increased by 12.6%. The three categories that comprise the largest percentage of volume sales, which include potato chips, frozen potatoes, and fresh potatoes, all grew in dollar sales but fell slightly in volume sales.

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On the 8th day: ‘God made a farmer’

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…)

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‘We need rain’: Mexican farmers ravaged by northern drought

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.

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Potato specialist: ‘Keep an eye out for signs of heat stress in your potato crops’

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.

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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.

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Univ of Nevada researcher studying beneficial microbes, potato storage diseases

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.

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Univ of Idaho researcher drums up success as scientist through music

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.

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Eagle Eye Produce celebrates trailblazing Idaho potato grower

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.

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Urschel acquires JIFCO and announces expansion plans

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.

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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.

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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.

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Inflation heats up: Checking in with ag economics experts

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.

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How can we improve soil health in potato cropping systems?

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.

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Idaho farmers plant 25,000 fewer potato acres in 2022

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.

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Maine’s foremost potato expert is bringing his expertise around the world

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.

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Univ of Idaho researcher’s model finding warmer temps favoring more volunteer spuds this year

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.

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Canada: Potato wart found in another Prince Edward Island field

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.

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‘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.

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