Breeding

Unique robot helps HZPC in the fight against diseases

HZPC is employing the services of a specialised robot in its fight against potato diseases and viruses within its breeding programme. In combination with marker technology, this supports the quicker development of resistant potato varieties so that lower levels of pesticides are required and crop losses are kept to a minimum. According to the Dutch potato company, disease resistant varieties are an important step towards worldwide food security and sustainable potato growing.

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In memoriam: Potato industry veteran Dr Joe Pavek passed away

It is with great sadness that we report today that Dr. Joseph John Pavek (92) died from age related causes and a broken heart on May 24, 2020. Helost the love of his life, Sylvia, just 50 days earlier and after 62 years of marriage. Joe was a longtime friend of potato farmers and industry, serving as a potato breeder for the USDA at the Univ. of Idaho Res & Ext Center in Aberdeen, ID, working for 34 years (1965-1999). Joe developed new potato varieties with colleagues. Five of the top ten US potato varieties were created by Joe.

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Perfecting the potato chip

Each time a bag of potato chips is opened in the United States, there is a one in four chance that it’s filled with Michigan-grown potatoes. Michigan is the largest producer of potatoes grown for the potato chip industry in the US, A concerted effort made by industry stakeholders, spearheaded by Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch, and coordinated by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, has built a partnership that is growing the industry.

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Robert Graveland, HZPC: ‘Europe is not adding value to its variety innovations’

“Improving potato varieties is our company’s core business,” says Robert Graveland, HZPC’s Research Director. “We noticed we have not yet used many genetic variants. There is still a lot of potential in this.” To use this potential, speed and control are crucial, says Robert. One way to speed up the process is to use gene-adaptation, for example, CRISPR-CAS. That can, for instance, create resistance or make a variety salt or heat tolerant. Some laws in Europe define gene-editing legally as GMO, though.

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CIP and HZPC collaborate to develop new potato varieties suitable for Southeast Asia

This project builds on ongoing work by the International Potato Center (CIP) developing early-maturing potato varieties that are tolerant to high temperatures and resistant to major virus diseases, thus suitable for growing in tropical climates.In close collaboration with the Netherlands-based global potato seed company HZPC, this project is developing early-maturing varieties with good characteristics for cooking and processing that would be suitable for the local environmental conditions. Five advanced clone candidate varieties will be cultivated and evaluated at high and low altitudes in Vietnam.

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Webinar on the diversified use of potato apical cuttings now online

Earlier this week, the World Potato Congress Inc (WPC) hosted another edition of its webinars, featuring Dr. Monica Parker. She presented on “Diversified Use of Apical Cuttings to Boost Potato Seed Systems“. The webinar is now available on YouTube. It can also be viewed below, or on the WPC website here, where links are available to previous webinars as well.

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Idaho potato researcher ends career with one more new variety

Jeff Stark’s retirement plans would just have to wait. With only two and a half weeks until his retirement, Stark was busy completing all the necessary paperwork for the release of the Galena Russet, a new potato variety. Stark had been the director of the University of Idaho’s Potato Variety Development Program since 2006 and he estimated that the Galena Russet potato variety was the 22nd or 23rd variety released during that time.

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Grampian Growers releases video to tell the story of its Gemson baby potato variety

Grampian Growers is a farmer owned cooperative based on the East coast of Scotland on the outskirts of Montrose, Angus. The cooperative is one of the UK’s leading growers, suppliers and distributors of seed potatoes. Grampian recently released a short video about its Gemson baby potato variety. Grampian says on its website that Gemson has gone from strength to strength in the expanding baby potato sector since its commercial release in 2007. Gemson is renowned for producing exceptional small, white, round and bright tubers, perfect for the packing industry.

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The Quikgro initiative: Developing resilient potato varieties suited for East Africa

Scientists of the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews, are supporting a research project aimed at delivering food security and health for East Africa. The Quikgro initiative, which aims to develop potato varieties suited to the agronomic and environmental conditions of the region, is a key component of the project and will hopefully result in economic and social benefits for smallholder farmers.

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Screening for higher-yielding crop traits revolutionised

To drive progress toward higher-yielding crops, a team from the University of Illinois is revolutionising the ability to screen plants for key traits across an entire field, writes Hugo Claver, Web editor for Future Farming, in a recent article. The team analysed data collected with specialised hyperspectral cameras that capture part of the light spectrum (much of which is invisible to the human eye) that is reflected off the surface of plants. Using hyperspectral analysis, scientists can tease out meaningful information from these bands of reflected light to estimate traits related to photosynthesis.

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From hunger to profitable harvest: How GMO, CRISPR-edited plants can help curb $220 billion in annual crop losses

Plant diseases arguably pose the biggest threat to agriculture, exacting a dramatic economic toll and endangering the livelihoods of farmers all over the world, writes Steven Cerier in this article published by Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). Scientists in the Netherlands and Ireland have successfully carried out field trials of a disease-resistant genetically engineered potato. The new variety was created through a process of cisgenesis.

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The ‘Flight to Vitality’ project: A fresh perspective on potato growth

Neil Budko is an associate professor in the Numerical Analysis Group at TU Delft in the Netherlands. In this article he and his colleagues’ involvement in the “Flight to Vitality” seed potato project is explained in detail. With the Flight to Vitality project, HZPC and Averis Seeds want to jointly develop an objective test with which the vitality of batches of seed potatoes can be measured and predicted.

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Canadian Private Potato Breeders Network elects new president

At the annual meeting of the Canadian Private Potato Breeders Network CPPBN, held on March 4 and 5, 2020 in Guelph Ontario, the group elected Andre Gagnon as President for a 2 year term. “Andre is an active private potato breeder for the past 14 years and has released several varieties, notably the variety “Alliston” which has proven to be outstanding in Ontario,” says Dr Peter VanderZaag, secretary of CPPBN.

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CIP and partners publish a ‘Manual for seed potato production using aeroponics’

The full title of this new book, authored by scientists working at CIP, INIAP, and CORPOICA in Latin America, is Manual for seed potato production using aeroponics. Ten years of experience in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Aeroponics is a technique for producing potato minitubers (corresponding to the pre-basic seed category) in formal seed systems. aeroponics is part of an integrated proposal of CIP and its partners to manage seed potato degeneration.

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International Women’s Day: Interview with Canadian potato researcher, Dr Helen Tai

Dr Helen Tai is Research Scientist – Plant Genetics and Genomics (specializing in potatoes) at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre in the country’s New Brunswick province. AAFC recently published the interview below with Dr Tai. Even though I didn’t start out studying plants I feel very lucky to be back where I grew up, studying potatoes. I guess it’s true what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree!

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USDA grant supports potato breeding and genetics program

Michigan State University received $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to invest in its potato breeding and genetics program. The award is part of a $2.25 million four-part grant to support potato breeding in strategic areas across the country, which includes partnering institutions University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University and the University of Wisconsin.

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How the humble potato changed the world

In his 1957 essay collection Mythologies, the French philosopher and literary critic Roland Barthes called chips (la frite), a food that comes from a crop native to the Americas, “patriotic” and “the alimentary sign of Frenchness”. Despite its origins in the Andes, it’s an incredibly successful global food Just a century earlier, a potato disease prompted a famine that halved Ireland’s[Read More…]

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GMO blight-resistant potato expected to help over 300,000 farmers in Uganda

Stakeholders working within the potato sector in Uganda are confident about the wide adoption of a new bioengineered late blight resistant potato. Dubbed the “3R Victoria” potato, the yet to be released variety could help over 300,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda achieve higher yields at a lower cost with less exposure to chemicals. At an expert consultative meeting held in[Read More…]

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Canada revamps its potato breeding program

It’s been a little over a year since Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) began revamping its potato breeding program. In addition to making the program more efficient and up to date, the move reflects a strong desire by the AAFC to make the program more responsive to the needs of the Canadian potato industry, writes Mark Halsall in an article published[Read More…]

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US: PVMI to promote new varieties of potatoes

Always working to develop the “perfect” russet, the Potato Variety Management Institute’s (PVMI) main mission is to promote new varieties of potatoes in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and beyond. Bob Larson from AGInfo reports. PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons says it’s what they coordinate from their operation based in Bend, Oregon … DeBONS … “PVMI is a non-profit that represents the[Read More…]

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CIP in Uganda: Experts expect 40-50% adoption of new blight resistant GMO potato variety Victoria

Stakeholders working within the potato sector in Uganda are confident about the wide adoption of a new bio-engineered late blight resistant potato. Dubbed the “3R Victoria” potato, the yet to be released International Potato Center (CIP) bred variety could help over 300,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda achieve higher yields at a lower cost with less exposure to chemicals, it is[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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