News March 2024

Senators rally to defend the potato’s vegetable status amid USDA and HHS reclassification debate

A bipartisan group of 14 US Senators opposes reclassifying potatoes as grains in the next Dietary Guidelines. In a letter to the USDA and HHS, they highlight potatoes’ nutritional value and historical vegetable status. The potential change could confuse consumers, disrupt industries, and adversely impact federal nutrition programs. The senators insist potatoes remain classified as vegetables, emphasizing the decision’s broad implications.

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FPS Food Process Solutions and partners lead potato processing innovation at Food Northwest Expo

FPS Food Process Solutions will display its comprehensive potato processing technologies at the Food Northwest Expo in Portland. Their alliance with OptiCept Technologies strengthens their market position by integrating PEF technology, enhancing efficiency in potato processing. Attendees are invited to visit Booth 1037 for pioneering solutions that combine innovation, efficiency, and quality.

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Potato planting in peril: Irish farmers face uncertain future amidst wet weather woes

Irish potato farmers face a crisis as incessant rain delays planting, jeopardizing this year’s crop and market supply. Seasoned growers like Meath’s Ivan Curran and Louth’s Maria Flynn confront the worst conditions in decades, with the crucial weeks ahead being vital for deciding the availability of supermarket and specialty potatoes, such as those used by Tayto crisps.

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IFA: Weather crisis in Ireland, planting delays in Europe

The Irish Farmers Association reports severe weather impacting Ireland’s potato crop, with limited early planting and a shortage of main season crop expected to worsen. Despite robust consumption, unsettled conditions persist, delaying planting across Europe. Prices remain stable despite planting delays, including in the U.K, where only eastern regions made some progress.

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PoLoPo unveils SuperAA platform: A protein biofactory in a potato

PoLoPo introduced the SuperAA platform, turning potatoes into micro-biofactories for protein production—patatin and egg protein ovalbumin. Utilizing potatoes’ growth advantages, the platform promises economical and sustainable solutions for the food system, offering ingredients for a range of food products. With significant market potential, PoLoPo has already garnered awards and seed funding, signaling upcoming industry tests for their innovative proteins.

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Unlocking the future of agriculture: Researchers describe breakthrough techniques in cryopreservation in new e-book

Dr. Gayle Volk of the USDA-ARS and colleagues have published an e-book offering comprehensive guidance on the cryopreservation of clonally propagated plants, a key for food security. With detailed public content, including protocols and videos, it introduces methods like shoot tip cryotherapy for pathogen eradication in crops. This work holds promise for sustainable and disease-free agriculture, particularly in staple crops like potatoes.

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Maximizing potato yields with CropSil: A new era in plant nutrition

Nuviatec’s CropSil product is a breakthrough biostimulant for North American potato farmers, offering improved growth, yield, and resistance to pests, diseases, and environmental stresses. This patented mono-silicic acid Si(OH)4 formulation ensures nutrient absorption and optimizes total plant health. Rigorous research confirms its benefits, supporting resilient and sustainable agriculture. Farmers utilizing CropSil report higher-quality crops with reduced input costs, fostering a more eco-friendly approach to potato farming.

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‘Growing smarter potatoes’: The emerging influence and potential impact of generative AI on the potato industry

Generative AI is revolutionizing potato farming by analyzing vast datasets, leading to optimized food production and sustainable agriculture. Embracing this technology promises enhanced yields, eco-friendly practices, and economic benefits, potentially transforming the potato industry into a model of innovation and food security, as Potato News Today editor and publisher Lukie Pieterse explains in this article.

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Smart phosphorus use could boost food production and protect vital reserves, study finds

Scientists from New Zealand and the UK assert that more effective use of phosphorus, a key plant growth nutrient, could extend its global reserve lifespan to 531 years. This finding from the Lincoln Science Centre and Lancaster University study, published in Nature Food, emphasizes the need for improved phosphorus management in agriculture and recommends more targeted fertilizer application, efficient formulations, and enhanced recycling from wastewater.

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Albert Bartlett completes Jersey potato company purchase

Albert Bartlett, a prominent UK potato supplier, has acquired the Jersey Royal Company (JRC) following approval from the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority. This purchase from Produce Investments extends Bartlett’s operations, which span Britain, Ireland, and France. CEO Alex Bartlett emphasized the company’s longstanding relationship with Jersey’s agriculture. Produce Investments expressed confidence in Bartlett’s capability to advance the Jersey potato sector.

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Your potato story matters: Potato News Today wants to share your projects with the international potato world

Potato News Today calls on industry players to share stories of innovative projects and research to gain global exposure and knowledge sharing within the international potato community. Contributions from researchers, farmers, and enthusiasts are vital to spotlighting advancements and fostering a collaborative future. To participate, send a synopsis and images to editor Lukie Pieterse, and help enrich the industry’s narrative.

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Rethinking soil fumigation: A new study explores its impact on agricultural sustainability

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied the effects of soil fumigation on agricultural sustainability, focusing on potato fields in Wisconsin. The study, which analyzed various indicators of soil health, found that fumigation’s impact varies significantly by soil type, enhancing outcomes in sandy soils but not in loamy soils. The research, published in Field Crops Research, emphasizes the role of soil microbial diversity in agricultural productivity and calls for tailored soil management practices to support sustainable agriculture.

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Precision farming reaches new heights with Vultus’s early disease detection service for potato crops

Swedish tech company Vultus, in tandem with AR Tarim, has launched a service to change potato disease management. By analyzing weather and field data, it predicts disease and pest outbreaks, aiding in early detection and control of ailments like potato blight. This allows for precise and efficient use of pesticides, enhancing crop health and facilitating sustainable practices. The service signifies a leap in precision agriculture, with potential environmental and productivity benefits.

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‘Drip by drip’: Engel Louwes’s innovative approach to sustainable potato farming with drip irrigation

Engel Louwes, a distinguished potato industry consultant, drives sustainability in agriculture through adopting drip irrigation. Specializing with 40 years of experience, Louwes’ career began in the 80s with companies like HZPC. His collaboration with Polish potato farmer Szymon Cena has become a hallmark project. Successfully introducing drip irrigation for potatoes in Poland, Louwes now aims to replicate this in India.

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Potato market dynamics: Egypt’s currency woes, Ukraine’s import surge

Currency devaluation in Egypt has cheapened its potato exports, spiking international market demand but raising domestic supply concerns. Meanwhile, Ukraine experiences a market downturn with rising potato imports, mainly from the EU, lowering local prices. These cases reflect the global potato market’s susceptibility to economic, policy, and trade variables, highlighting the necessity for sustainable agriculture and resilient economic strategies.

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Irish potato growers call for protest action outside supermarkets

The Irish Farmers’ Association, led by President Francie Gorman, has support from potato growers to protest against supermarkets over complex Bord Bia audits. The issue, discussed at a National Potato Meeting, includes supermarkets adding audits per GLOBALG.A.P standards. The IFA plans to meet with food retailer CEOs soon, starting with TESCO Ireland.

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Sustainable spuds: The EU’s ‘Potatoes Forever!’ campaign champions eco-conscious cultivation

The EU’s “Potatoes Forever!” campaign champions sustainable potato cultivation and consumption in Europe. Funded by the EU for 2024, it targets adults 35-49 through various media, teaching about eco-friendly potato practices from farming to dining, in line with the “Farm to Fork” strategy. This initiative aims to transform the industry and maintain potatoes as a dietary staple, respecting nature and combating climate change.

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Bayer pilots unique generative AI tool for agriculture

Bayer has launched a pilot for a GenAI system, developed with proprietary data and validated by agronomists, to rapidly provide expert agronomic advice. A collaborative effort with Microsoft and EY, this tool offers a quicker response to farmers’ queries compared to current methods. It aims to enhance product development, democratize agronomic knowledge, and improve global food security. Bayer plans to widen the pilot to more users, including direct queries on farm data.

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Breeding the super spud: How scientists are striving to create climate-resilient potatoes

The ADAPT project explores breeding resilient potatoes through genetics. Researchers have discovered how the SP6A protein triggers potato formation and how high temperatures disrupt this process. By manipulating genes related to SP6A, they’ve produced potatoes that grow earlier and in greater numbers, even in adverse conditions. Findings on the GERMIN3 gene also contribute to improved potato yield by managing sugar supply during growth. Such advances aim at securing food production despite climate challenges.

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GM potatoes to be released to Nigerian farmers in 2025

Beginning in the 2025 planting season, Nigerian farmers will have access to new late blight-resistant potato varieties, according to Dr. Charles Amadi of NRCRI. This development is part of the USAID-funded GBPP, led by Michigan State University, in collaboration with multiple partners. The varieties promise to address the blight that devastates over 90% of crops in Nigeria.

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A united front against malnutrition: WFP and CIP renew partnership for nutritional innovation

The World Food Programme and the International Potato Center have renewed their collaboration with a four-year MOU to fight hunger by focusing on research and innovation in nutritious crops. This includes expanding school meals in Kenya to 10 million children and utilizing biofortified foods like Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato. The partnership also emphasizes preventive nutrition and sustainable solutions through strategic alliances and rigorous research.

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New Zealand mourns the loss of ‘Spud King’ Allan Pye at 83

New Zealand’s ‘Spud King’, Allan Pye, has died at 83, leaving a legacy in potato farming. Rising from a modest start, he transformed national agricultural practices, introducing center-pivot irrigation and building businesses in various industries worth about $1 billion. Despite massive success, he found joy in daily farming. Pye is remembered by his family, including 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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From Irish fields to European markets: Navigating potato production delays and export dynamics

The latest report from the Irish Farmers Association shows strong home consumption and retail trade for potatoes in Ireland. Planting is delayed, with virtually no sowing before St Patrick’s day and decreasing stock causing price increases. Across Europe, wet conditions have postponed early crop planting, though some areas like South West France now report better progress. Export demand fluctuates, reflecting diverse regional farming challenges.

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MSU’s pioneering diploid potato project backs research into new way of breeding potatoes

About a decade ago, Michigan State University’s professor Dave Douches, launched the SolCAP initiative, funded by the USDA NIFA, focusing on potato and tomato crop improvements. He spearheaded a shift towards breeding diploid potatoes, which have two sets of chromosomes, enabling easier gene editing and rapid genetic progress. With Project GREEEN’s support, his efforts include developing self-compatible diploid potatoes and enhancing pest resistance, such as against the Colorado potato beetle.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


Feel free to get in touch with Lukie!
He’ll be happy to share your company’s news stories on Potato News Today:
lukie@potatonewstoday.com
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