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Canada’s Prince Edward Island celebrates inaugural International Day of Potato

The little province on the east coast of Canada – Prince Edward Island (PEI) – celebrates the inaugural International Day of Potato on May 30, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. The little island’s potato industry, with a history dating back to 1790, is a significant economic driver, exporting to 44 countries. The island grows over 75 of the world’s 5,000 potato varieties. Family-owned farms have preserved the tradition for generations, embracing modern practices.

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Resilience in the fields: Canada’s Prince Edward Island potato farmers tackle dry spring with new strategies

In Canada’s east coast potato producing province Prince Edward Island, unusually dry spring weather is causing significant challenges for potato farmers, crucial to the local economy. Moisture-deficient soil is delaying planting and threatening crop yields. Farmers are responding with innovative irrigation and soil conservation techniques to mitigate the effects. The provincial government is providing financial aid to support these efforts. PEI’s potato farmers continue to demonstrate resilience and innovation in the face of adversity.

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Potato crop walks get underway in Ireland as blight cases emerge

Teagasc will host three potato crop walks this week to address emerging blight cases and the new EU43 blight strain in Ireland, beginning May 29 in Co. Meath. These events will provide growers with updated guidelines on blight control and strategies for the upcoming year. Shay Phelan emphasized the seriousness of the EU43 strain, which has posed significant challenges in Europe, necessitating robust new disease control programs.

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Shifting landscapes: The next generation of high-performance potato variety releases for American growers

Rhett Spear, Assistant Professor / University of Idaho Aberdeen Research and Extension Center, reflects on his childhood living on a remote farm, noting challenges like grocery shopping and equipment maintenance. He observes a shift from farmland to housing, stressing the need for efficient farming. The Northwest Potato Variety Development Program releases new, improved potato varieties annually, enhancing traits like disease resistance and yields. Spear highlights several varieties such as Rainier Russet, Galena Russet, Becca Rose, and Echo Russet.

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Boost in efficiency: Canada’s EarthFresh Inc. accelerates production with cutting-edge packing line

EarthFresh Inc., a Canadian potato company in Burlington, installed a new advanced packing line to address growing demand and operational challenges, including supply chain issues and equipment aging. The new system, funded by the Ontario Supply Chain Stability and Adaptability Program, improved packing rates, reduced unplanned downtime, and enabled sustainable packaging options. This upgrade also lowered transportation costs and enhanced the local market.

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UK potato supplier Branston donates £10k to support potato production among local farmers in Uganda

Branston Ltd, a UK potato supplier, donated £10k to support potato production in Alito, Uganda, enhancing food security and local farmers’ incomes. Alito’s agricultural college educates farmers, supplying students with potato seeds upon graduation. Alongside funding, Branston will construct water lagoons for irrigation and a test site for potato variety and fertilizer trials. Over 100 students and staff participated in the project.

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EWRN Workshop: Global experts unite to tackle wireworm challenges in potato production

The European Wireworm Research Network (EWRN) will host a workshop on July 7th at the Scandic Fornebu Hotel in Oslo, Norway, focusing on wireworm infestations in potato crops. Keynotes include experts discussing management, challenges, and risk assessment. Country updates and scientific posters will be presented, and participants will engage in collaborative discussions. This event aims to unite researchers and professionals in addressing wireworm issues.

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Carlos Ochoa: Rightfully named the ‘Indiana Jones’ of the potato world

The latest installment of Krishak Jakat’s ‘Seed Heroes’ series honors Peruvian scientist Carlos Ochoa for his significant contributions to understanding and improving potato varieties. Known as the “Indiana Jones of the potato world,” Ochoa’s adventurous expeditions led to the discovery of numerous wild potato species. His work has greatly enhanced crop resilience and food security in Peru and beyond. Ochoa’s legacy is celebrated on International Potato Day, 30 May 2024.

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From field to flavor: Growing the future of Lay’s, one potato seed at a time

Josh Parsons, an R&D scientist at PepsiCo’s Rhinelander, Wisconsin, farm leads a team combining traditional breeding with modern tools to cultivate high-quality potatoes for Lay’s chips. They grow new potato varieties through data-driven cross-pollination. These varieties are selected for yield, disease resistance, nutrition, and taste, aligning with PepsiCo’s sustainability and nutrition goals. Despite the lengthy nine-year development process, only a few seeds become successful.

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Rock-solid results: How Newfoundland farmers are overcoming stony soils with cutting-edge technology

Newfoundland’s rocky soil makes growing root crops challenging. In 2021, farmer Chris Lester and AAFC tested a stone burier and bed shaper tiller. The equipment separates stones from soil, enhancing soil bed quality. Chris Lester and other farmers were impressed with the results, leading to wider adoption. The stone burier promises better crop growth and reduced soil compaction. Data recorded with the stone burier and bed shaper also showed that water availability was more uniform throughout soils beds.

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Britain’s mashed potato mania: Tesco and Branston team up to meet surging demand

Mashed potato sales have surged at Tesco with a million more packs sold in 2023 than in 2022, leading to the opening of a new multi-million-pound mash factory. Demand rose post-pandemic and during the cost-of-living crisis. Tesco partnered with Branston for gourmet mash recipes, creating 80 jobs at the new facility. Branston aims to modernize the beloved British comfort food.

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Weather challenges persist: European and Irish potato farmers struggle with planting delays as demand stays high

The latest Irish Farmers Association report underscores the difficulties Irish potato farmers face due to unpredictable weather, causing planting delays and a potentially late harvest. Despite these challenges, retail demand and home consumption remain strong, pressuring old season stocks and driving up physical prices. This trend is seen across Europe, with weather impacts noted in the Netherlands and the UK.

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McCain Foods CEO Koeune reveal major investment plans for French processing facilities during presidential visit

McCain Foods announced a €350 million investment in its French production facilities, enhancing capabilities at Harnes, Béthune, and Matougues. This initiative, revealed during President Macron’s visit, aims to boost production by 25% while prioritizing sustainability. State-of-the-art facility upgrades will reduce CO2 emissions and optimize water use. The investment supports McCain’s vision for a resilient future in French agriculture, benefiting its network of farmers, employees, and customers.

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United against potato viruses: The ‘Potato Virus Initiative’ advances detection, breeding, and management strategies

The federally funded “Potato Virus Initiative” aims to combat Potato Virus Y (PVY) and Potato Mop-Top Virus (PMTV) through collaborative research involving over 25 researchers. Led by the University of Idaho, the project focuses on virus management strategies, detection methods, breeding resistant varieties, and effective in-season management. Key findings include advanced detection methods, optimal post-harvest detection, innovative treatments for dormancy break, soil microbiome insights, and breeding for resistance.

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International Potato Day: Celebrating diversity, nutrition, sustainability and hope in a global staple crop

The International Potato Day, to be first celebrated on May 30th following a UN resolution, honours the potato’s versatility and significance as a staple food. The German Potato Industry, employing 110,000 people, is the largest EU producer with 264,700 hectares of cultivation. Potatoes are rich in nutrients, highly versatile in cooking, resilient, and sustainable. The event underscores their role in global nutrition, food security, and reducing ecological footprints, according to a recent press release issued jointly by German potato organizations UNIKA and DKHV.

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New era in plant breeding: Ohalo’s ‘Boosted Breeding’ technology a game changer for global agriculture

Ohalo has unveiled Boosted Breeding™, a groundbreaking new technology set to revolutionize global agriculture. This innovative system allows plants to inherit the complete genetic composition from both parents, resulting in offspring with enhanced traits, such as increased disease resistance and drought tolerance. Early trials indicate potential yield gains of 50-100%+. The technology also enables the generation of genetically uniform seeds for crops traditionally not grown from seeds, like potatoes, offering a scalable, cost-effective alternative to vegetative propagation.

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Ukrainian potato price hike: Prices now triple compared to last year

EastFruit reports a significant price increase for last year’s potatoes in the Ukrainian market, with current prices for the 2023 harvest ranging from 15 to 22 UAH per kilogram (approximately $0.38 to $0.55). This is a 27% hike since the previous week, attributed to a seasonal decrease in supply amid steady demand. Quality issues and a rapid depletion of stocks contribute to the rise, with prices now 3.4 times higher than the same period last year.

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How to make irrigation water as effective as rainwater: This new technology might be the answer

Rainmaker.Earth, a South African-based technology company, is revolutionizing agricultural irrigation by mimicking natural rainfall, improving water and soil quality. Their advanced oxidation process enhances water absorption, reduces runoff, and boosts soil health, benefiting high-demand crops like potatoes. This sustainable approach supports biodiversity, reduces chemical use, and promotes efficient water use. Rainmaker.Earth is expanding globally, offering farmers a sustainable, effective irrigation solution that enhances crop yield and quality.

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Potato industry reaffirms trust in Potatoes New Zealand with overwhelming levy support

In an overwhelming endorsement, 94.74% of voting New Zealand potato growers supported continuing the potato levy, administered by Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ), for another six years. This approval represents 95.83% of the previous season’s gross sales. Voter participation increased significantly to 54.68%. PNZ officials expressed their commitment to addressing industry challenges and advancing growers’ interests, reiterating the organization’s vital role in advocacy and government liaisons.

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FMC’s Anthem Flex herbicide approved for use in potatoes

The EPA has recently approved a label expansion for Anthem Flex herbicide for use in potatoes. This approval allows growers to use the herbicide to control over 30 weed species, including pigweed and foxtail, with a longer residual effect. Anthem Flex is based on two effective active ingredients, providing extended control and reducing reliance on postemergent herbicides. This is significant as it supports easier, more consistent weed management for potato farmers.

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Dalhousie’s McCain Research Chair secures five more years of support from McCain Foods and Potatoes New Brunswick

McCain Foods and Potatoes New Brunswick have extended their support for Dalhousie University’s McCain Research Chair, reinforcing their commitment to sustainable agriculture and food security. Dr. Ahmad Al-Mallahi, holding this position since 2018, focuses on developing advanced agricultural technologies. His team has produced prototypes that optimize farm productivity and has recently been granted more support for another five years. This partnership aims to integrate cutting-edge technologies with regenerative farming practices.

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The fascinating intelligence of potato plants: Insights researchers are confirming, but farmers already know

The concept of plant intelligence is revolutionizing agriculture, highlighting potatoes’ ability to perceive and respond to environmental stimuli through complex biochemical processes. This intelligence allows potatoes to adapt, communicate, and solve problems, such as optimizing root systems and photosynthesis. Recognizing these abilities can advance farming techniques, making them more sustainable and productive. Recent studies underscore how potatoes utilize these capabilities for nutrient uptake, pathogen resistance, and overall survival, offering strategies for precision agriculture and sustainable farming practices.

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WPC24 welcomes climate advocate Dr. Anika Molesworth as Ambassador and radio icon Leith Forrest as MC

The World Potato Congress 2024 announced Dr. Anika Molesworth as the WPC24 Ambassador and Leith Forrest as the Congress MC for their upcoming event in Adelaide from June 23-26. Molesworth, a renowned agriculture and climate advocate, will deliver a keynote on sustainable agriculture. Forrest, celebrated for his radio work and charity involvement, will engage attendees with his expertise and community commitment. The Congress aims to enhance global discussion on sustainable potato farming and climate solutions.

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McCain Foods to modernize and expand French potato processing facilities for sustainable growth

McCain Foods plans to invest €350 million into its French potato processing facilities over five years to boost production by 25% and reduce emissions. Investment targets include modernizing the Matougues plant, which will help expand operations significantly. This initiative, highlighted during President Macron’s visit, aligns with broader market growth in processed potato products driven by demand for convenience foods and advancements in processing technology. Challenges such as price volatility and supply disruptions due to climate impacts are also noted.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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