‘A passion for potatoes’: Pioneering Colorado potato breeder Dave Holm retires

Dave Holm was destined to work with potatoes. He was raised on a potato farm in southeast Idaho, where his dad and grandfather instilled in him a love of one of the world’s most important crops. His interest extends to the complexities of the tubers, as well as their nutritional properties. This June, Holm will retire after 43 years of service to Colorado State University’s San Luis Valley Research Center and Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

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A unique vertical farm can produce 10 times more seed potatoes a year

Less than a year after the opening of the World-class Scientific Center “Agrotechnologies for the Future”, Russian scientists had a breakthrough: the first-ever vertical farm with dynamic LED lighting. They presented the first pre-production prototype of a vertical farm. The rapid seed reproduction facility combines state-of-the-art digital technology with organic farming techniques, and have grown healthy potato seed for further multiplication in the field.

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Sweden’s Starch Producers ready to put CRISPR to work in developing ‘new climate-smart potato varieties’

Sweden’s Starch Producers organization expressed a very positive view about this conclusion from the European Commission’s study into new genomic techniques, and of the fresh optimism that it will now potentially be possible to use the CRISPR technique. Sweden’s Starch Producers will now be able to commercialise the efforts it has made in this field within the EU. They began a drive to use the CRISPR technique to develop new, climate-smart varieties of seed potatoes in 2014. The new varieties are now being cultivated for the second year.

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’20 Most Innovative Plant Varieties of 2020′: Two potato varieties on the list

European Seed has published its list of “The 20 Most Innovative Plant Varieties of 2020” recently. Marcel Bruins, Editorial Director of European Seed writes: “Let’s face it, not many people can make reliable predictions about the future. But do you know who has to make such predictions due to their jobs? Plant breeders!”. Two varieties from European potato breeding and seed companies made the list: ‘Alouette’ from Agrico, and HZPC’s ‘Cayman’ variety.

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Genome-based breeding delivers solutions for PCN management

New PCN resilient varieties are now available thanks to advancements in potato breeding technologies writes Teagasc’s Denis Griffin and Dan Milbourne and Colm McDonnell of IPM Potato Group Ltd. Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) are increasingly problematic where potatoes are intensively grown. Until recently, very few potato varieties have been available for commercial production with resistance to both species of the pest.

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USDA extends deregulation of Simplot’s gmo potato

USDA announced yesterday that it is extending deregulation to J.R. Simplot Company’s (Simplot) potato variety developed using genetic engineering, designated as Snowden Z6 (Z6 potato). The potato variety is engineered for late blight protection, lowered reducing sugars, low acrylamide potential and reduced black spot bruising.

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Averis Seeds and Solynta join forces for hybrid breeding of starch potato varieties

Averis Seeds B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Avebe, will be working together with the hybrid potato breeding company Solynta on the hybrid breeding of starch potato varieties, the companies announced in a press release. Hybrid breeding facilitates significantly faster development of new sustainable potato varieties compared to conventional breeding.

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2Blades Foundation: Collaborative effort to bring a disease-resistant potato variety to market in Africa

Evanston, Illinois based 2Blades Foundation reports in its latest e-mail newsletter on the Foundation’s support for the International Potato Center’s African potato initiative. The Foundation make note in the newsletter that Chris Kennedy, Chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc. and Bob Easter, President Emeritus of the University of Illinois, co-wrote a blog on how a collaborative effort to bring a disease-resistant potato variety to market in Africa is helping to build global food security.

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HZPC: ‘Ready to grow in North America’

Potatoes in the United States and Canada are a commodity. When selecting varieties, the colour of the skin tends to be the primary consideration. As new managing director of HZPC Americas Corp, Jeff Scramlin sees opportunities to increase market share by highlighting the distinguishing characteristics such as cooking types, flavors and textures. These efforts should help to de-commoditize potatoes, create demand and increase value through the chain in North America.

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Agrico: ‘Next Generation varieties are flourishing’

As of today, Agrico will be sharing the innovation of its sustainable Next Generation varieties on its online platform The company says in line with its digital transformation and the current circumstances resulting from the pandemic, it started building an online news platform at the end of last year to support its buyers and growers with important knowledge and information. This platform, Agrico Potatoes, will go live again today.

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The future of potato breeding? UMaine professors trying to develop potato varieties using new DNA-based tools

Two professors at the University of Maine in Orono are working on breeding new potato varieties. Hannah Yechivi reports for News Center Maine that professor of crop ecology and management in the School of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Greg Porter, and assistant professor of plant genetics with the School of Biology and Ecology Dr. Han Tan are studying how to make more varieties using a new DNA-based tool.

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Finding the ‘sprightly spud’: HZPC’s search for the secret to seed potato vitality

Since 2018, HZPC and Averis Seeds have been collaborating in the “Flight to Vitality” research project. It is a quest for the factors that influence the germination capacity – and therefore the vitality – of seed potatoes. At the end of 2021, when the practical investigation is completed, the company says it is hoping that the mystery will be solved. The answer to one question has always remained unanswered: how is it possible that seed potatoes sometimes grow much better and faster than at other times?

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Canadian researcher identifying genes related to potato scabbing

A Prince Edward Island.-based researcher in Canada is unlocking the genetic make-up of potatoes in an effort to develop a variety that is resistant to common scab disease. Bourlaye Fofana, PhD, a molecular biologist and research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Harrington Research Farm, recently completed comparative gene expression profiling between two types of potatoes – Green Mountain, which[Read More…]

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Two new Tri-State potato varieties poised for release

Two new potato varieties with ties to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen are poised to be released soon by the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program. Rainier will be well suited for both the fresh and processed potato markets. It’s a cross of Canela Russet and an Aberdeen breeding clone. NDA050237B-1R is a vibrant, red clone that was crossed in North Dakota.

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Potato breeder to plant first field generation of crosses with greening resistance

The potato breeder with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen is using genetics from a wild spud relative to develop crosses that won’t turn green when exposed to light. Richard Novy, potato breeder with the agency’s Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Facility, plans to plant the first field generation of crosses developed to resist tuber greening this spring.

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Gene-Altered Attitudes: The gene revolution turns 25

Roger Beachy still remembers the excitement of planting the first genetically altered food crop into United States soils. It was the summer of 1987 when he, along with a team of Monsanto scientists, transplanted tomatoes modified to resist a virus at the company’s research farm, near Jerseyville, Illinois. It would take almost a full decade before transgenic plants gained a serious foothold in U.S. soils, and they would not be those the idealistic young scientist envisioned.

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New research identifies best gene to confer durable resistance to late blight in potato

An international team of researchers has struck an important blow in the ongoing evolutionary arms race with the notorious potato disease late blight (Phytophthora infestans). This disease, which caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, continues to reduce potato yields today and can lead to devastating losses. A new gene and it’s relatives were found in the Solanum americanum plant and seem to provide potatoes resistance against all races of P. infestans . A publication on the new Rpi-amr1-gene appears today in the journal Nature Plants.

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HZPC Americas welcomes Aron Derbidge

HZPC Americas Corp. hired Aron Derbidge as Sales and Key Account Manager, bringing with him over 10 years of experience developing and marketing seed potatoes in the U.S. and Canada.

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The buzz on diploid potatoes

Diploid potato breeding, and producing varieties from true potato seed, has been getting a lot of attention in the potato industry lately

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Nitrogen rates: New protocol to improve accuracy of nitrogen applications in potato crops

AHDB in the UK recently announced in a news article that a new protocol for estimating the determinacy of potato varieties will be released in the next few months. The protocol will help breeders and those involved in variety development, save time and money when producing nitrogen recommendations for new varieties. Growers and agronomists will gain more accurate nitrogen/determinacy groupings for both new and existing cultivars, and therefore improve the N rates applied to their crop.

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Varietal resistance to late blight: Most popular varieties in the UK assessed

Varietal resistance to late blight, including the newer strains which have become prevalent, can still make a real difference to control, David Wilson, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager Potatoes in the UK told the online audience at the December 2020 Agronomy Week event. Performance of some of the most popular varieties were assessed with demonstration trials held by the AHDB at Eurofins in 2019.

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Teagasc and IPM develop PCN-resistant potato variety

Teagasc and IPM Potato Group have recently released a new potato variety which is resistant to potato cyst nematode (PCN). As Stephen Robb reports in the Irish Farmers Journal, the variety is called “Buster” – a new ware or prepack variety that is said to be resistant to both species of PCN that impact potatoes. According to Dan Milbourne, who spoke at this week’s National Tillage Conference, Buster combines PCN-resistant genes from five parents.

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How breeding can help farmers manage PCN in potatoes

A breeding collaboration in the UK, searching for new marketable spud varieties showing resistance and high tolerance to potato cyst nematode, have put forward five promising candidate clones for National List testing. Grampian Growers, E Park & Sons and Skea Organics

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The CEO of HZPC explains how he is making his company more sustainable

HZPC’s CEO, Gerard Backx says: “What we can contribute are new varieties that can help to improve environmental impact in the future. We try to develop different disease resistances to make sure that our potatoes can be grown without or with a very reduced amount of pesticides. Of course, yield is important too, because if you can produce more product on the same amount of land with the same amount of energy, then you are more sustainable.”

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