News May 2024

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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Fight Against Blight: James Hutton Institute secures funding to continue vital late blight monitoring and testing

The James Hutton Institute secures additional funding to continue its role in the Fight Against Blight (FAB) scheme, protecting Britain’s potato crops against late blight. Initiated in 2006, the scheme involves a network of FAB Scouts monitoring Phytophthora infestans across the UK. This project, vital for early detection and management of new resistant strains of blight, is supported by a consortium of industry leaders. Despite challenges like resistance and regulatory pressures, the collaborative effort aims for effective blight control and sustainable farming practices.

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Leadership change at the UK Potato Processors Association: John Sedgwick takes helm as Chair

John Sedgwick has been appointed as the new Board Chair of the UK Potato Processors’ Association (PPA), taking over from Dan Hewitt. With extensive experience in the potato industry, Sedgwick aims to address the sector’s challenges such as supply chain issues and economic pressures. The PPA plans to enhance its profile and showcase the benefits of its membership amidst these challenges. Sedgwick’s leadership is welcomed by PPA’s Director General, Andrew Curtis, highlighting Sedgwick’s well-recognized role within the sector.

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Glyphosate under fire: Scientists struggle to find effective alternatives, experts warn of unintended consequences

Amid concerns about glyphosate, the most used herbicide globally, scientists struggle to find safe, effective alternatives, according to a Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) article by Andrew Porterfield and Jon Entine. Their analysis reveals exaggerated health concerns and underscores glyphosate’s proven safety. However, existing substitutes lack efficacy, increasing costs and environmental risks. The authors argue for a balanced, research-driven approach to replacing glyphosate.

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Discover the vital role of potatoes in Culinary Medicine: A comprehensive webinar

Join Dr. Sabrina Falquier on June 5, 2024, for a webinar exploring the essential role of potatoes in Culinary Medicine. This webinar will demonstrate their versatility, nutritional benefits, and cultural importance through a live cooking demonstration. Aimed at health practitioners, the webinar will provide practical dietary guidance using potatoes to create nutrient-rich, plant-forward meals suited for diverse patient needs. Sign up to learn how to integrate America’s favorite vegetable into patient care.

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Potato emergence problems: A practical and detailed guide for growers

Potato growers struggling with poor plant emergence can benefit from a comprehensive guide created by esteemed North American specialists. This guide lists common issues, including bacterial/fungal diseases like soft rot and late blight, and physiological problems such as chilling injuries. It emphasizes the importance of using certified seeds, managing soil conditions, and handling seeds properly. Detailed descriptions, visual aids, and explanations are provided to aid in rapid problem identification and crop management improvement.

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When the bots come marching in: AgBot makes debut to Scottish growers

Scotland’s first autonomous tractor, AgBot, was introduced by SoilEssentials, a provider of precision farming solutions. Designed by AgXeed BV in The Netherlands, AgBot offers configurations including tracked and wheeled models. It aims to enhance agricultural efficiency by reducing manual labor and increasing yields, promising a robust future for farming. Further UK demonstrations are anticipated.

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Canada: ‘This is Edmonton’ podcast explores Alberta’s prolific potato industry

In 2022, Alberta emerged as Canada’s leading potato producer, contributing 21.8% to the national output with over 1.2 million tonnes, surpassing Prince Edward Island and Manitoba. A significant factor is a new large-scale potato processing facility by The Little Potato Company in Nisku Business Park. Details of Alberta’s growing prominence in potato production were discussed in the “This is Edmonton” podcast, highlighting regional agricultural developments.

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Syngenta unveils Evagio Forte: The next-generation blight fungicide for 2024 with built in resistance management

Syngenta UK has launched Evagio Forte, a new blight fungicide for 2024, combining mandipropamid and amisulbrom to form an anti-resistance, high-efficacy product. Proven by trials to deliver superior control with lower active ingredient rates, it is integral for agronomists aiming to reduce fungicide use. Recommended for use from flowering to season’s end, it prevents spore germination and disease spread, aiding resistance management when alternated with other fungicides.

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FAM STUMABO introduces ‘Scalibur’: A new cutting-edge solution for superior potato slicing

FAM STUMABO introduces Scalibur, a revolutionary potato slicer featuring dual rotation technology for superior slicing quality and efficiency. This advanced tool not only minimizes cell damage for smoother slices and increased yield but also offers versatility with interchangeable cutting heads for various vegetables. Scalibur ensures enhanced process control, reduced cost from lower parts wear, and compatibility with SureSet 16-blade heads, promising a new standard in the food processing industry.

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Major expansion: McCain Foods to invest more than €350m in potato processing production in France

McCain Foods plans to invest over €350 million in France by 2028 to enhance its potato production capabilities. Primarily focusing on three production sites in Harnes, Béthune, and Matougues, this initiative will boost production capacity by almost 25%. This investment, termed “unprecedented” by regional president Alain Duranleau, aims to bolster the company’s competitiveness and sustainability, further solidifying its presence in the French market.

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Spuds in crisis: Climate change hits European and global potato industry

Climate change is severely impacting potato crops globally, causing price surges and jeopardizing farmers’ livelihoods. Heavy rainfall, floods, and droughts have led to reduced yields, lower quality, and increased disease. From Canada’s significant losses to Europe’s crop declines and similar struggles in Africa and South America, the global potato industry is under stress. This crisis highlights the urgent need for action against climate change to protect food security and the agricultural sector.

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Limited stocks and anticipated harvest delays keep UK potato prices on upward trend

UK potato prices have surged due to a low 2023 harvest and delayed planting, with English White potatoes now at £630/MT, showing a 90% increase, and Maris Piper potatoes at £660/MT, up by 120%. Market analyst Harry Campbell at Mintec writes that despite warmer May weather improving planting, supply constraints continue, leading growers to hold stocks in anticipation of prices reaching beyond £700/MT. The market remains primarily a sellers’ market.

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Would you like fries with that drought resistant potato?

Dr. Bourlaye Fofana and AAFC researchers are evaluating 384 diploid potato clones for drought resistance and maturity traits. They aim to enhance genetic diversity and resilience in potatoes. Focusing on diploids could lead to new varieties better adapted to climate changes. 50 promising clones will progress in the breeding process, potentially improving future potato crops in Canada. This research aims to create potatoes that are early or moderate-late maturing with drought resistance.

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Royal HZPC Group navigates market volatility: Financial stability amid fluctuating yields and global expansion

Royal HZPC Group forecasts a similar financial outcome for 2023/2024 as last year, with an expected 4% increase in turnover. Despite low European yields, sales exceeded expectations, especially in licensed tonnage in America and Asia, contributing to this growth. Financial challenges persist due to high yields in other regions and potential costs in politically unstable areas. The company also recovered funds from a cyberattack, closing that incident.

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As the EU stalls, leading plant breeder warns that England must not let precision breeding opportunity slip

Nigel Moore highlights Britain’s opportunity to lead in plant breeding due to delays in the EU’s gene editing advancements. He expresses concerns over potential restrictive measures in the Precision Breeding Act’s secondary legislation, which may hinder the UK’s progress in agricultural innovation. Moore discusses the act’s attractiveness to investors and significant potential applications, such as enhanced crop yields. One potential application baby potatoes with ‘bunched’ root architecture which allow almost three times as many tubers to be produced from the same area of farmland.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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