Breeding

Innovation in the air: How a visionary in Rwanda is growing potatoes sustainably with aeroponics

A Rwandan entrepreneur is pioneering the use of innovative farming technology that, he believes, is set to play a major role in feeding the growing population in his country, amid increasing pressure on arable land. No soil, barely any water, a controlled environment: for Apollinaire Karegeya, the advantages of aeroponics are clear. The young entrepreneur’s vision and actions are described in a recently published news article by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Potato News Today is pleased to republish the article here.

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Canadian researcher in pursuit of finding potatoes that are resistant to disease, drought and greening

A Prince Edward Island-based Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researcher, Dr. Bourlaye Fofana, grows 814 different genetic lines of potatoes in fields at AAFC’s Harrington Research Farm, all in pursuit of finding potatoes that are resistant to disease, drought and greening. Dr. Fofana is working to develop potato varieties that are resistant to common scab disease, making crops more plentiful and profitable and providing blemish-free produce for consumers around the world.

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MSU’s Natalie Kaiser: Harnessing the power of potatoes, through plant breeding innovation

Natalie Kaiser’s love for plants started as a child growing up around her parents’ organic greenhouse business in upstate New York. She did her undergrad studies in plant science with dreams of starting a career in farm management; but after taking a few courses in genetics, she found her true passion in plant breeding. A PhD candidate at Michigan State University (MSU), Natalie specializes in potatoes – in particular, looking at which genes make certain potatoes naturally resistant to a troublesome potato pest known as the Colorado potato beetle.

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How the most popular potato in the US reached its status

Carrie Huffman Wohleb writes in an article for Growing Produce that although it wasn’t an immediate success, the ‘Russet Burbank’ cultivar now accounts for about 40% of the U.S. potato acreage. It originates from a seed collected from an ‘Early Rose’ potato plant that Luther Burbank planted in 1872. Many decades later, a natural genetic mutant (a chimera) of the original Burbank with russet skin became the Russet Burbank we know today.

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‘The Potato Field’ podcast: Ben and Alison Sklarczyk on tissue culture and seed potato production

‘The Potato Field’ is an initiative of Spudman magazine in the US. In the latest episode, Ben and Alison Sklarczyk discuss the process of producing plants in their tissue culture lab and then greenhouse before they reach field seed potatoes in disease-free and sterile condition, as well as their recent expansion, trends in seed potatoes and balancing family with their demanding business.

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Schaap Holland: The quest for a sustainable potato variety

The corona virus is forcing the potato variety companies to consider a different format for the traditional variety shows this year. A number of companies opted for an event online, others have decided to postpone the shows for a year. In this series on Akkerwijzer, the potato variety companies talk about their showpiece varieties and the challenges that accompany its development. In this article, Sheep Holland reflects on “the traditional breeding work that is under pressure.”

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HZPC Americas Corp seeking key account managers

HZPC Americas Corporation is the North American seed potato partner of the HZPC group. The company is based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast. HZPC Americas Corporation has an extensive research and development program as well as localized testing locations, which allows HZPC to develop potatoes varieties with direct focus on North American markets. HZPC Americas Corporation recently announced two vacancies: Sales & Key Account Manager – Fresh, and Key Account Manager – Processing.

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New Fenway Reds potato variety steps up to the plate in Maine

Last year, Green Thumb partnered with Hannaford to develop the Queen Anne potato. This year they’re partnering with Hannaford again to introduce Fenway Reds, a variety that’s new to Maine. Fenway Reds is a unique red potato; while many red varieties are oblong in shape, Fenway Reds are round and consistent. In fact, this variety is the roundest red potato ever grown at Green Thumb Farms.

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‘The year of digital transformation’: Agrico presents new varieties on its online platform

Since last week, Agrico has been presenting its new varieties on its new online platform, agricopotatoes.com. This platform is also the next step in the digital transformation of the potato cooperative. Agrico has been organising a large and well-attended variety show in November for years now. Due to Covid-19, this meeting full of physical encounters was not an option this year. To maintain the moment of connection with its customers and to present its new varieties, the cooperative developed an online platform. Agrico has declared this season as the year of digital transformation.

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Abertay Univ and Agrico cooperate to develop a better potato using videogaming tech

Videogame technology will be used to help develop the perfect potato as part of a ground-breaking new project involving Abertay University and a major potato seed supplier, reports Richard Mason in a news story published by The National. The university, based in Dundee, has entered into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Agrico UK Ltd, with the aim of utilising artificial intelligence to shorten what is normally a lengthy and complicated process, taking more than 10 years to breed a new potato variety.

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HZPC’s first online Potato Days hugely successful; setting new standard for a new reality

The annual Potato Days event in Joure is a valued networking event attracting hundreds of growers and customers from many countries. This year, many more interested individuals from all over the world seized the opportunity to join the online Potato Days 2020, which took place live from a virtual studio, last Wednesday. At least 1300 people from the entire potato chain met each other in an interactive online setting where they experienced the event together. With Potato Days Live, HZPC says it sets a new standard that fits the current reality and the future.

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Potato Variety Management Institute: Working on varieties in the US

In a two part series, Bob Larson spoke to PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons who told him that it’s what they coordinate from their operation based in Bend, Oregon. Says De Bons: “PVMI is a non-profit that represents the tri-state Potato Research and Breeding Program, and that’s a cooperative effort of Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Oregon State University, and the USDA.” Debons says those results vary widely with everything from fresh russets, to colored potatoes, and other specialty potatoes.

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Yale and HZPC collaborate in quest for a better potato

Yale has a potato to call its own — two, in fact, and both varieties are already appearing in Yale dining halls, writes Brita Belli in a recent news article published by YaleNews. Through a partnership with Netherlands-based potato seed company HZPC, a Connecticut farm is growing special, nutrient-dense potatoes for the university that are tailor-made for the state’s climate and soil. The Jennifer potato, with its white skin and creamy texture, and the Maggie potato, with its yellow skin and buttery taste, are the first Yale-specific potatoes being grown from these seeds.

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Project to develop new potato varieties will benefit breeders, growers and consumers

Potatoes are a widely-loved vegetable. Baked, mashed, fried or chipped, they are a tasty treat. But they aren’t perfect. Potatoes present a big challenge for the plant breeders who work on the crop, trying to develop new varieties that are more savory, sustainable, storable or growable. “Potato is the world’s leading vegetable crop, but it hasn’t realized the genetic gains needed to keep pace with industry and consumer demands,” says Jeff Endelman, UW–Madison associate professor in the horticulture department.

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All hail the rise of the ‘climate-smart’ potato

The potential of the potato has only just begun to be realized, writes Sandra Cordon in an article published by Landscape News. Sandra writes that some 368 million metric tons of potatoes were harvested globally in 2019, as people from Vietnam to Kenya, the Peruvian Andes to Rwanda produced a wide variety of the root vegetable, helping feed an estimated 1.3 billion people who rely on them as a staple food. In step, researchers around the world are hurrying to find ways to increase the quality and yield from potato production through targeted varieties better suited to local weather and soil conditions.

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Pakistan to produce disease-resistant potato tubers using tissue culture technology

Tissue culture technology is being widely used for large-scale plant multiplication and gives a science-based solution for plant propagation, disease elimination and plant improvement, said Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan during an agreement signing ceremony between PARC and UAE-based Green System Pakistan Pvt Limited.

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HZPC potato breeding company says it ‘closes eventful year with a healthy result’

The 2019/2020 financial year has been eventful in many respects for HZPC, the company says in a press release issued earlier today. HZPC says that despite the consequences of COVID-19, the company has had an operationally successful season. The coming season, however, may well be more of a challenge, HZPC says. The potato breeder says it is on the cusp of a season which encompasses a huge, global economic recession.

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Kenyan scientists develop potato varieties resistant to PCN

Scientists in Kenya have reportedly developed potato varieties that are resistant to potato cyst nematodes (PCN) in what promises to change fortunes of farmers in the country and across Africa, according to a news report by Xinhua. The scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in a statement on Tuesday said besides resistance to PCN, the new varieties are early-maturing.

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Discovered: A wild potato with high resistance to late blight

In a recent collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the James Hutton institute, scientists identified a diploid wild potato with a high resistance to P. infestans, according to a press release issued by the American Phytopathological Society. “We found that the observed resistance in this wild potato was due to previously uncharacterized novel resistance genes,” explained Guangcun Li, one of the scientists involved in the study. “We also discovered that photosynthesis was inhibited to promote the immune response.”

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Project to research the viability of True Potato Seed in Canada’s far North

A pilot project that could improve food security in Canada’s North got the green light Monday, according to a report by CBC News. Jackie Milne, president of the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, received $50,000 in funding from the government of the Northwest Territories to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists to identify the best potato seeds to produce potatoes in the North.

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Potato LEAF awards Texas A&M’s Jeewan Pandey for research to speed up the development of new varieties

The Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is pleased to announce Jeewan Pandey, a third-year graduate student Texas A&M University’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, as the recipient of its 2020-21 Academic Scholarship. Pandey’s research involves the application of DNA-based markers in potato breeding to speed up the development of new varieties that would require fewer pesticide applications.

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EU ‘ADAPT’ Project: Searching for stress-resistant potatoes

The ADAPT project aims at identifying new breeding targets and matching potato varieties to specific challenging environmental growth conditions of the future, according to a press release issued by the University of Vienna. The ADAPT consortium has successfully launched the project “Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”, which aims at developing new strategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging growth conditions of the future. It will take place over the next four years with a total budget of 5 million Euro from the EU Horizon 2020 program.

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‘It’s all in the name’: Potato variety company C. Meijer BV became ‘Meijer Potato’

It was announced earlier this week that renowned Dutch-based potato variety and seed company C. Meijer BV has re-branded its identity and will from now on be known as ‘Meijer Potato’. The new name is said to do justice to the company’s international scope and stature. Almost 90% of the company’s turnover is generated outside of the Netherlands. The company’s mission, “Everyone deserves to enjoy food”, reflects Meijer Potato’s ambition. The company says on its website it’s mission is to provide more people with the opportunity to enjoy food.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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