News July 2024

‘Holy shit’ moment for crop breeders as Ohalo unveils ‘boosted breeding’ technology

Ohalo CEO Dave Friedberg explains that traditional crossbreeding of plants results in a random transfer of 50% of genes from each parent, making it difficult to consistently achieve desired traits like disease and drought resistance. Ohalo’s ‘boosted breeding’ technology bypasses this issue by preventing the gene-splitting mechanism, ensuring all beneficial traits are inherited. Additionally, these polyploid plants show significantly higher yields.

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Potato Days UK: A groundbreaking event for the future of potato farming in Britain

Potato Days UK, hosted on September 4-5, 2024 at Dyson Farming’s Nocton Estate in Lincolnshire, is set to be a major event for the potato industry in the UK. Organized by DLG, it will feature 100 exhibitors displaying machinery, innovative farming solutions, and live demonstrations. Visitors will learn about advancements in crop and fertilizer management. The event also includes networking opportunities and a comprehensive program of talks and workshops.

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Urgent call for more residue data to keep UK potato stores operational

The UK potato industry is at risk due to residual Chlorpropham (CIPC) contamination in potato stores. A temporary Maximum Residue Level (tMRL) of 0.35 mg/kg has been set by the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD). To maintain this tMRL, the industry must provide annual residue data. Growers must submit data to the CIPC Residue Monitoring Group (CRMG) to avoid stricter limits and potential storage losses.

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Unlocking solutions: Final PCN Open Day set to showcase cutting-edge research and innovations

The final PCN Open Day by PCN Action Scotland is scheduled for August 7th, 2024, at Barnyards Farm, Tannadice, Angus. The event, essential for addressing potato cyst nematodes (PCN), includes sessions on potato variety resistance trials, oil radish trials, decision support updates, policy discussions with SASA, and live sprayer demonstrations. Two identical sessions will run from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM.

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NAPSO announces inaugural in-person meeting at PAA Annual Conference

The North America Potato Storage Organization (NAPSO) will hold its first in-person meeting during the Potato Association of America Annual Conference on July 23, 2024, at AC Portland Hotel. NAPSO aims to enhance potato storage practices in North America and invites all stakeholders. Following a successful virtual meeting, this in-person event emphasizes sustainability, profitability, and innovation in the potato industry, with a virtual attendance option available.

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CPRI issues advisory as late blight disease threatens potato crops across India

The Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) has issued a warning to potato farmers about a high risk of late blight disease due to changing weather conditions, as reported by Gaurav Bisht of the Hindustan Times. Institute director Brajesh Singh emphasized the importance of timely management and advised the immediate spraying of fungicide on susceptible crops to prevent significant damage.

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Albert Bartlett and Fera Science launch innovative monitoring scheme to combat aphid-borne viruses in UK seed potatoes

Albert Bartlett, a leading UK potato supplier, has partnered with Fera Science Ltd to monitor and control aphid populations in Scotland’s seed potato crops, addressing increased viral infections due to milder winters. Forty-five growers have joined the 2024 aphid monitoring scheme, receiving weekly updates on aphid types and virus risk. This initiative aims to protect the health of potato seeds for future crops.

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Driving potato purchases: Key consumer insights revealed in new Potatoes USA study

The ‘Potato Path to Purchase’ study by Potatoes USA, conducted by Nielsen IQ, reveals how consumer behavior and purchase patterns for potatoes are influenced by various factors. Key findings show that 90% of potato purchases are pre-planned, with freshness/quality, price, and quantity as top factors. Retailers can boost sales by focusing on quality, transparent packaging, and eye-catching displays. Pre-shopping factors like meal planning and promotions significantly impact purchasing decisions.

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Wireworms in potatoes: Innovative biocontrol approach for effective control with beneficial nematodes

Wireworms, the larval stage of click beetles, significantly threaten potato production by feeding on underground plant parts, causing damage that reduces crop quality and marketability. Most conventional soil insecticides are banned or ineffective, but Koppert offers a biocontrol solution using beneficial nematodes, Casea and Capyphor, which reduce tuber damage by up to 30%, thus increasing yields and revenue for potato growers.

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Unprecedented heatwave sweeps across America, impacting agriculture and communities

An unprecedented heatwave is affecting vast regions of America, bringing record-breaking temperatures and severe impacts on agriculture, communities, and the economy. Temperatures have exceeded 100°F in states like California, Texas, and Arizona, posing significant health risks. The agricultural sector faces reduced crop yields and livestock challenges, leading to potential food shortages and economic losses. Communities are mobilizing resources, and scientists link the event to climate change.

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‘Concerning trend’: New potato farms in the UK disappear amid post-Brexit labour crisis and severe weather

The UK is facing a decline in new potato farms due to labor shortages and erratic weather, exacerbated by Brexit’s impact on EU worker availability. New immigration rules have worsened the labor gap, which local workers can’t fill. The future of potato farming looks bleak unless policies are introduced to improve labor schemes and financial support for farmers to adapt to extreme weather conditions.

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Innovative robotics: AI-powered ‘PotatoBot’ enhances efficiency in Jersey Royal potato farming

Elijah Almanzor, a PhD student from the University of Cambridge, has developed the PotatoBot, an AI-powered robot designed to plant delicate Jersey Royal potatoes while minimizing damage. Supported by the UKRI EPSRC and the Jersey Farmers Union, this innovation mimics human planters, offering a solution to labor shortages and challenging terrains. Almanzor’s start-up, Robotlux, could potentially be adapted for other crops.

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A sector in flux: Record highs in Dutch potato prices amidst supply shortages and weather challenges

The Expana benchmark price (EBP) for Dutch processing potatoes has reached an all-time high at €625/MT, up 7.76% year-on-year, due to the limited supply following a wet and delayed 2023 harvest. This shortage has led to fierce competition and rising processing demand in Europe despite increased competition from North America and other regions. The weather-related risks continue to challenge future yields and planting schedules.

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Lamb Weston sued over ‘artificially inflated’ share prices

Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. and its executives are accused of violating federal securities laws relating to the rollout of a software system, as stated in a class action lawsuit. Idaho Statesman reports that the lawsuit claims that Lamb Weston’s stock price was artificially inflated due to misrepresented software issues. The case seeks a jury trial and includes investors who bought shares between July 2023 and April 2024.

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Urgent late blight alert: Ontario potato growers urged to act now to protect crops

Dr. Eugenia Banks of the Ontario Potato Board has alerted growers to late blight in a potato field in Alliston. She recommends immediate field scouting and fungicide application due to ideal weather conditions for the disease’s spread. Following last year’s severe outbreak, growers are urged to adopt proactive measures, including frequent spraying and optimal post-harvest management, to protect crops and prevent another epidemic.

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Making clothes from potatoes: Potato-to-fibre inventor wins Manufacturing Futures 2024 award

A cotton-like material made from potato waste, developed by start-up Fibe, won the 2024 Manufacturing Futures Innovation Challenge’s top prize, earning a £15,000 award from Fashion District. The material aims to be an affordable, sustainable alternative to mainstream textiles. Industry experts unanimously selected Fibe, impressed by the innovation, marking a significant step in sustainable textile development.

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Tight stocks and weather challenges impact Irish and European potato markets

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports steady potato demand despite cold, wet weather. New season varieties are slowly hitting the market, but stocks remain tight for another two weeks. Early-planted varieties saw yield reductions due to weather. European factories face delays in new season crops, particularly in Belgium. Despite challenges, some early table varieties are being harvested, and prices have stayed stable.

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AI meets agriculture: Canadian potato producer enhances crop monitoring with HarvestEye technology

HarvestEye, using machine learning to enhance crop insights, has partnered with Prince Edward Island’s renowned potato grower G Visser & Sons to boost produce quality for the North American market. The system monitors potatoes’ size, shape, and variability, complementing manual sorting efforts. This partnership aims to integrate HarvestEye further into operations, improving quality control, yield forecasts, and sustainability while offering real-time monitoring and reporting for optimized harvests.

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Potato protein market expected to gain popularity across the globe

The global potato protein market is set to grow significantly from 2023 to 2031, with an expected CAGR of 6.9%. Growth drivers include rising adoption in food, beverages, animal feed, and cosmetics, a growing vegan population, and increased awareness of the environmental impact of animal farming. North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa will all contribute, with Asia-Pacific leading in growth.

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Sustainable solutions: Netafim’s drip irrigation shows significant benefits for potato farmers and the environment

Netafim, a leader in precision agriculture, revealed a Life Cycle Analysis showing significant environmental benefits of drip irrigation for potato cultivation, especially in reducing Global Warming Potential (GWP) and water use compared to rain gun systems. The study, done with Potato Solutions and Drip UK, found drip irrigation reduces fresh potato GWP by 54% and water use for processing potatoes by 40%.

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UK: Major online auction for state-of-the art potato and vegetable processing equipment announced

A major two-day online auction for modern potato and vegetable processing equipment in the UK has been announced. The sale includes state-of-the-art machinery from QV Realisations Ltd, formerly known as A H Worth Ltd. Day one features significant processing plant equipment, while day two focuses on yard, factory, and office items. Bidding closes on July 24 and 25, 2024, respectively. Viewing is available on July 23 or by appointment.

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Unraveling the origin and global spread of the potato blight pathogen

Researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute have challenged the theory that the potato blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans originated in Mexico. They discovered it likely arose in the South American Andes, then spread globally, impacting potato crops. Using genotypic data from 1,706 isolates, they traced its migration to Peru, Colombia, and beyond. Understanding these migration patterns is vital for improving disease control and enhancing global food security.

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Navigating the future of food: Wyma publishes a definitive guide to sustainable agriculture

Wyma’s guide on sustainable agriculture emphasizes reducing waste, conserving water, and optimizing land use to meet the growing food demand and counteract climate change. The guide aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals, advocating for efficient water and resource management, waste minimization, and biodiversity preservation to ensure a sustainable future for food production.

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Robots, drones and driverless tractors usher in new age of farming in the U.S.

Farm fields in America are transforming with autonomous tractors, solar-powered robots, and drones, driven by automation and AI. This technology, once seen as science fiction, is now being implemented in the U.S. Despite the slow adaptation, these innovations promise to make farming more efficient and sustainable amid declining farmer numbers and falling crop prices, according to Bloomberg News.

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Farmer Focus: Are we heading to a potato blight Armageddon?

Richard Orr reports on a meeting discussing the severe potato blight affecting the UK and EU. The session emphasized the seriousness, likening it to a potential potato famine if growers aren’t vigilant. Key advice included avoiding single active ingredients, sticking to seven-day spray windows, and spacing tramline beds to minimize leaf damage. Limited use of actives, like mancozeb, complicates disease management strategies.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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