News December 2023

Potato breeding pioneer retires after 38 years at UMaine

Greg Porter, an Aroostook County native, retires after 38 years at the University of Maine. As a professor of agronomy, he led the potato breeding program and developed the successful Caribou Russet. Now a professor emeritus, Porter plans to enjoy hobbies and spend time with family. Recognized for his work, he received the Maine Potato Industry Recognition Award. He will wrap up research projects and collaborate with his successor, Mario Andrade.

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EPA greenlights novel biopesticide, targeting Colorado potato beetle with RNA technology

The EPA announced last week that it has registered Ledprona, a biopesticide using dsRNA for potato crops to combat the Colorado potato beetle. This RNA interference technology targets the beetle without creating genetically modified organisms. It offers an alternative to chemical pesticides, addressing resistance management and aiding in climate change challenges. The EPA rigorously evaluated Ledprona’s safety, making its registration a significant advancement in environmentally friendly pest control methods.

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Unusually wet weather results in lower potato harvest in Maine

Maine potato growers faced a challenging harvest due to heavy rain, resulting in 700 million pounds fewer potatoes than in 2022. The state’s wet weather damaged crops and increased pest activity, causing farmers to leave behind overly saturated potatoes. Despite the decrease, this year’s crop still ranks as the third largest in the last five years. Most of the potatoes go to processors, with russets comprising three-quarters of the crop.

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Creating a sustainable and greener food system: Key trends in 2023

In a piece for Food Matters Live, Anna Turns highlights the significant environmental impact of food production, which contributes to 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. She outlines 10 promising sustainability trends for 2023, including upcycled foods, lower-impact cooking, sustainable crops, and regenerative agriculture. This shift towards circular, less wasteful models and more environmentally friendly supply chains reflects the food industry’s ongoing efforts to create a responsible and sustainable food system.

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Beauty in the blemished: ‘Ugly Potato Day’ fed thousands, fighting waste in Canadian city

In a remarkable display of community spirit, Surrey in Canada’s British Columbia province recently witnessed “Ugly Potato Day,” a unique event aimed at combating food waste and feeding thousands. The event was organized by Heppell’s Potatoes. The company distributed visually unappealing yet edible potatoes that are typically discarded. The initiative garnered a large turnout, raising awareness about food waste while providing food to those in need. This initiative sets an example for addressing food insecurity.

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Fresh Trends survey: American consumers turn to potatoes to battle inflation

The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2024 survey reveals that potatoes are a top choice for consumers facing grocery price inflation. According to the survey, 30% of consumers buy more potatoes during inflation, making it a popular choice after bananas (32%) and above apples (23%). Notably, the survey found that lower-income consumers are most likely to buy more potatoes due to inflation.

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Starch potato crop in The Netherlands faces unprecedented challenges due to adverse weather

Avebe is facing a challenging harvest season in The Netherlands as adverse weather conditions have left 5 to 10 percent of the crop unharvested. The wet conditions have led to record-high tare percentages, lower starch content in potatoes, and reduced overall yields per hectare. These quality concerns are impacting Avebe’s campaign planning, forcing factories to operate at maximum capacity. Additionally, some batches are being processed earlier due to storability issues.

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The soil-plant connection: A comprehensive guide to soil health and plant vitality

Joel Williams, a plant and soil health educator in the UK, presented “Soils and Nutrition” delving into the complex relationship between soil health and plant nutrition. He emphasized the critical role of soil in supporting healthy plants, discussed global soil degradation, and advocated for a holistic approach to soil management. Williams explained the role of plants in soil health and outlined practical strategies for improvement.

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An organic evolution: Kroeker Farms’ journey to sustainable potato farming

Kroeker Farms, based in Manitoba, Canada, prioritizes sustainable potato production. While mainly conventional, they are a leading organic potato producer in North America. Their sustainable practices include crop rotation, soil health maintenance, and responsible water management. Chief Operating Officer Harwin Bouwman emphasizes the farm’s long-term impact considerations, guiding their strategic investments in organic production and sustainable water management, positioning them at the forefront of environmentally conscious potato farming.

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Global taste test: Original and Sour Cream & Onion reign supreme in Pringles popularity

A recent global review of top-selling Pringles flavors revealed that Original and Sour Cream & Onion are universally popular. Despite offering over 160 flavors worldwide, these two remain consistent best-sellers. Regional preferences shine through in unique flavors such as Pigs in Blanket in the UK and Egg Sandwich in Japan. Pringles enthusiasts are encouraged to share their favorites and suggest new flavors via the brand’s Instagram. Sales peak during events like the Super Bowl and Chinese New Year.

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Transforming agri-business: Key technological trends to watch in 2024

The agricultural industry is embracing advanced technology amidst extreme weather and supply chain challenges. CEO Ron Baruchi outlines five key trends for 2024 that could transform the industry: Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI), digital twins for field trials optimization, regenerative agriculture innovations, cloud-based technologies, and sustainable packaging solutions. These trends aim to enhance efficiency, sustainability, and productivity as the industry adapts to a growing population and evolving consumer demands.

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The future of farming: Insights from the World Potato Congress webinar on combatting food loss

In a recent webinar hosted by the World Potato Congress, Luciana Delgado analyzed losses in the potato value chain, emphasizing their impact on food security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Delgado presented the “Food Losses App,” a tool to assess and address food losses for farmers, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. She emphasized the unequal impacts of food loss, the need for precise measurement, targeted interventions, and creating a business case for reducing losses at the producer level.

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Potatoes facing a ‘grainy’ future? Astonishing debate about the vegetable status of the potato challenges common sense

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is actually considering reclassifying potatoes from vegetables to a category alongside rice and grains. This bizarre proposal has sparked debate within the nutritional and agricultural communities. The National Potato Council vehemently opposes the reclassification. Potato News Today firmly stands with the growers, scientists, and consumers who advocate for the potato to remain classified as the nutritious vegetable it rightfully is. We can’t help but wonder how this particular Committee’s idea can become any more absurd. We truly hope not…

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Agricultural innovators: Pioneering project calls for British farmers to help train robots in slug control

A groundbreaking trial in the UK will equip farmers with special rigs to train robots to detect and treat slugs in arable crops. The project, part of SLIMERS, aims to develop sustainable slug control strategies using advanced technology and biological agents. Farmers can participate in a webinar on January 10 and receive payment for their involvement. The initiative seeks to enlist farmers with a strong understanding of pest control and a willingness to embrace new technologies.

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Progress in the fight against potato wart: CFIA and PEI potato industry’s joint efforts outlined

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato industry are collaborating to combat the spread of potato wart, a critical initiative for the nation’s economy. CFIA says in a press release it is seeking feedback on key Risk Management Documents to shape a new National Potato Wart Response Plan. Initiatives include a tool to identify restricted areas for potato growers and a comprehensive guide on movement requirements and biosecurity. The latest survey reveals no new instances of potato wart on PEI.

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Potato market update: Climatic challenges and rising demand in Ireland, the UK and Europe as Christmas approaches

As the festive season approaches, Ireland is experiencing a surge in potato demand, leading to challenges for farmers. The high clay content in harvested crops is complicating yield predictions and causing storage issues. In the UK, there’s an increase in direct movement of potatoes from farms as buyers prepare for Christmas, leading to firm prices for chipping varieties. Across Europe, efforts are underway to harvest remaining crops amidst challenges like frost damage.

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Tech meets tradition in 2024: AI-enhanced farming and the rise of heritage crops

Nourish Food Marketing’s Trend Report 2024 reveals a shift towards AI-driven insight farming, with a focus on sustainability and water efficiency. The report highlights how AI will enable maximized yields with fewer inputs and decreased environmental impact. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of water as a finite resource, showcasing the need for more sustainable water use in agriculture. The report also discusses the integration of heritage crops and regenerative farming practices in response to changing climates.

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World’s largest potato crisp on display at Idaho’s celebrated potato museum

The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho, is notable for housing the world’s largest Pringles potato crisp, according to the World Record Academy. The Pringle crisp was created by Procter & Gamble in 1991 and measures 25 inches in length, 14 inches in width, and weighs 5.4 ounces. Besides this exhibit, the museum also showcases ancient Peruvian vessels used for potato storage 1,600 years ago and manages a hall of fame that recognizes significant contributions to the potato industry.

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A new era in precision agriculture: How the Picketa LENS tool is changing the game for crop nutrient management

In 2023, Picketa Systems introduced the Leaf-Evaluated-Nutrient-System (LENS) to offer real-time plant nutrient analysis, enabling adaptive input management. The LENS, an alternative to time-consuming lab protocols, provides accurate nutrient uptake data, helping manage fertilizer costs and adapting to fluctuating crop conditions. Used by agronomists and growers for instant agronomic feedback, it has aided in operational cost savings, improved decision-making, and enhanced crop quality. Plans to expand LENS to support additional crops like corn are underway.

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Frito-Lay and Quaker unveil the three food and snacking trends poised to shape 2024

The fifth U.S. Snack Index reveals an evolving relationship between Americans and their food, with factors such as time scarcity impacting meal preparation patterns. By 2024, traditional lines between ‘snacks’ and ‘meals’ could blur and ‘no-prep dinners’ may become the norm. The report highlights upcoming trends, including the Time Crunch Dilemma, the growing integration of snack products into meals, and the rise of the Snack Savant, who enthusiastically experiments with food.

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Sustainable spuds: Making regenerative ag work in potato production

Brendon Rockey, a Colorado potato farmer, is implementing regenerative agriculture to address soil degradation and water scarcity. His farm uses diverse crop rotations, cover crops, and integrates livestock grazing, enhancing soil health and reducing water usage. This approach also involves novel pest management strategies. Manitoba potato farmers are exploring similar paths, The shift towards sustainable practices is influenced by industry demands, with companies like McCain Foods and PepsiCo mandating regenerative methods from their suppliers by 2030.

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Pulsemaster revolutionizes food processing with new innovative Compact PEF system

Pulsemaster has launched a compact industrial-scale pulsed electric field (PEF) system, designed to process up to 10 tons of tubers, roots, vegetables, and fruits per hour. It’s a revolutionary fit for small and mid-scale production lines due to its minimal footprint, rapid startup, and commitment to sustainability. It uses electroporation for tissue softening, enhancing food quality. Particularly beneficial for frozen foods, it enhances flavor and maintains cell structure. Pulsemaster’s new system illustrates their dedication to advancing food quality and production efficiency globally.

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From spuds to fuel: Researchers develop hydrogen fuel from potato peelings, waste products

Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in Canada are developing a sustainable and cost-effective method to produce hydrogen from waste materials, including used plastic and potato peelings. This innovative approach involves using a catalyst to break down waste and release hydrogen gas. The research aims to align with global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable energy sources, potentially transforming the energy sector.

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Innovative farming breakthrough: Canadian potato farmers achieve remarkable yields in no-fertilizer experiment

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada conducted the #AAFCPlowdownChallenge to examine how well potatoes would grow using only nitrogen leftover from previous crops and cover crops, without fertilizers. “This yield result is very good, in our opinion. It shows the ability of the soil to provide nutrients from a previous crop, like red clover, to help grow potatoes,” says Scott Anderson, AAFC science coordinator. They believe the experiment demonstrates the value of efficient fertilizer use and the benefits of considering leftover soil nutrients for sustainable farming.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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