USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) recently announced funding ($6.8M) for Potatoes and Pests – Actionable Science Against Nematodes (nicknamed PAPAS). The PAPAS team will engage in a four-year research project to provide growers with the best management practices for controlling infestations of both root knot and potato cyst nematodes in potato fields. Successful completion will result in several tools for growers.
Organizations in the News
Potato wart report: PEI Potato Board calls on govt to listen to international panel of experts convened by CFIA
The PEI potato industry welcomed the final report of an International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Potato Wart that was presented to industry and government on January 16, 2023. The panel was convened by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2022. The PEI potato industry is pleased with the thoroughness of the panel report and the Panel’s key findings that “given the limited presence of the pathogen, the IAP considers most parts of PEI outside the Regulated Fields as a PFA (pest free area) for S. Endobioticum [fungus causing potato wart].”
A recent study of 1,500 patrons (consumers who eat out at restaurants) identified habits and opinions of restaurant patrons related to potatoes. An astounding 53% of consumers surveyed said they are willing to pay an average of $5.20 more for a main dish with potatoes than without them, regardless of the format. Over half of the patrons surveyed (60%) expect to see potatoes on menus, second only to beef.
Following 16 years of dedicated volunteer service to the World Potato Congress Inc., Mr. John Griffin will be stepping down from his role of President of the World Potato Congress Inc. Dr. Peter VanderZaag will step into the role of President and CEO of WPC Inc. WPC also announced Dr. Nora Olsen as the new Vice-President of the World Potato Congress. Brian Douglas accept the nomination of Director to the Board.
The two new tattie organisations formed after the demise of AHDB Potatoes are appealing for support from growers as the industry looks ahead to an uncertain season. The Seed Potato Organisation (SPO) is looking for members to commit a redeemable £1000 to establish the organisation. GB Potatoes aims to be a coordinated lobbying voice for the entire potato industry.
World Potato Congress President John Griffin is pleased to announce Potatoes USA as the organization’s newest Gold Sustaining Partner. “The support of Potatoes USA under the leadership of CEO Blair Richardson, who also serves as a WPC International Advisor, will continue to propel WPC forward in our mandates. These include planning for the first ever International Potato Day and in promoting the 2024 Congress, to be held in Adelaide, Australia,” Griffin said in a news release issued earlier today.
Arbitrators have ruled in favour of the EU in the World Trade Organization (WTO) appeal regarding Colombia’s anti-dumping duties on frozen fries originating from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The European Potato Processors’ Association (EUPPA) says in a news release the final and binding award confirms that these anti-dumping duties breach WTO rules and improperly restrict access to the Colombian market.
Potatoes SA recently announced its research priorities for 2023. The industry body says in a news post on its website that the main intention of its research initiatives is to support potato growers in South Africa in optimising their production efficiency. The organization says it further intends to foster “a better understanding of the local potato market, as well as exploring future opportunities in creating consumer demand for potatoes in the country.”
The newly-formed peak potato industry body in Australia is calling on growers and other stakeholders across the sector to become a member to help promote and grow as a united body. Potatoes Australia Ltd. Executive Officer Liz Mann says the organisation, which held its inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ballarat this year, was primarily set up to be the voice of the potato industry value chain. “Membership is open to growers and other people in the supply chain,” Ms Mann said.
UPGC report: Canada brings in another record potato crop in 2022, despite adverse weather and regional variability
Statistics Canada has estimated Canadian Potato Production in 2022 to be 122,970,000 hundred weight, up 0.8% over 2021. Despite a very cold and wet spring delaying planting and very hot, dry weather in many parts of Canada throughout August and into the harvest, Canada still brought in another record crop compared to the 5-year average, a good supply to match the continually increasing demand for processing potatoes both here in Canada and in the United States, reports Victoria Stamper, General Manager of United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC).
Multimillion dollar programme in New Zealand aims to provide growers with a nitrogen management tool
Sustainable Vegetable Systems (SVS) is a $7.5 million dollar multi-tiered research programme, funded by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, led and co-funded by Potatoes New Zealand in collaboration with the Vegetable Research & Innovation Board and Horticulture NZ. SVS provides the data and subsequent modelling of vegetable nutrient uptake and nitrogen leaching. Potatoes New Zealand recently uploaded three videos on its YouTube channel to explain the SVS programme goals and activities.
Retail demand and household consumption in Ireland have picked up since colder weather has set in, as the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports. Storage costs are a multiple of last year’s costs and growers must immediately receive an increase at farm gate level to compensate for this, IFA says. In the U.K. ambient stores are difficult to hold while it has been so mild and “wets” in bags are a problem for some growers.
During the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) October meeting, two new Commissioners representing the grower and shipper industries were sworn in. Daren Bitter of Bittersweet Farms and Brian Jones of Sun Valley Potatoes will each serve three-year terms. Commissioners Bryan Wada and Paul Saito were sworn in for their second terms and now serve as Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively.
Production in the North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) member countries is said to be down by 6% this year compared to last year. Planted acreage is expected to go down in 2023 because of rising production and storage costs in the four member countries – Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands (EU-4). On average in the NEPG zone, between October 2021 and October this year, electricity prices have gone up on average by 280% (ranging from 50 to 500% increase).
Potatoes are the most widely grown and consumed vegetable in the United States. But challenges such as climate change, diseases and pests threaten both potato yields and quality. Supported by funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, research at Land-grant Universities is helping to make sure we have plenty of potatoes.
USDA report on potato wart crisis: Extent of infestation on Prince Edward Island ‘likely larger’, current mitigation measures ‘insufficient’
On October 14, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service released a comprehensive report on the current status of the potato wart crisis on Prince Edward Island, Canada, stating that PEI’s potato wart infestation is “likely” larger than reported and that the virus is “almost certain to be introduced” to the United States without additional mitigation measures in place.
Potato harvest is in the final stages across Canada, according to United Potato Growers of Canada’s final Crop Update for the season. Most provinces have enjoyed excellent harvest conditions without the high temperatures experienced in early September nor the wet conditions of early spring. Yields have been variable across the country, and even between regions within provinces, with overall production estimated to be slightly lower than 2021.
The NFU has welcomed the launch of the voluntary initiative of GB Potatoes this week, which should fill gaps left in the industry since the demise of AHDB Potatoes. NFU Potato Forum Chair Tim Rooke said: “There have been crucial gaps left in the industry since the demise of AHDB Potatoes, such as a dedicated, sector-specific voice for the broader industry… Some growers will therefore welcome this voluntary initiative to help address some of these gaps…”
GB Potatoes: Newly launched trade body aims to ‘bring the industry together’ through all-sector representation
A brand-new industry body, GB Potatoes Ltd, was launched the past week. GB Potatoes says it plans to unite the UK potato industry and work with existing produce trade associations to represent the potato sector’s interests and future development in the wake of AHDB Potatoes discontinuation. Mark Taylor, Inaugural Chair of GB Potatoes said, “Our launch couldn’t come at a more important time for the GB Potato Industry. The Great British Potato needs to be championed!”
The World Potato Congress President, John Griffin, would like to extend a congratulations and warm welcome to the industry body’s new incoming Executive Director, Ellen Kouwenberg. She will be replacing outgoing General Manager, Brian Douglas. She brings experience to the World Potato Congress through her global connections, facilitating incoming and outgoing agricultural missions and trade shows involving countries in North Africa, Central and South America, Philippines, USA, and the Middle East.
University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is set to receive up to $55 million — the largest award in the university’s history — to help Idaho farmers and ranchers combat climate change through agricultural practices. U of I’s grant will directly benefit more than 100 Idaho farmers and ranchers. Research will focus on the state’s staple commodities, such as potatoes, beef, sugar, wheat, barley, hops and chickpeas. The grant will drive climate-smart practices on about 10% of Idaho’s active cropland.
The National Potato Council (NPC) today welcomed new Program Coordinator Madeleine Poulin to assist the council as it promotes the interests of U.S. potato growers, their families, and the rural communities they support. “Madeleine will be a tremendous addition to the team,” said Kam Quarles, NPC CEO.
Potatoes USA says in its latest monthly newsletter that potato retail sales increased in dollar sales but decreased in volume sales from July 2021 – June 2022, compared to the same timeframe a year ago. As consumer prices increased by 10.5%, retail dollar sales increased by 5.7%. The total volume sales decreased 4.4% from the same time a year ago, but they remained above volume sales prior to the pandemic. Dollar sales have continuously increased over the last five years.
According to IFA, growers in Ireland continue to prepare for harvest, while reports from growers remain consistent that yields are much lower than last year. In Belgium current yields seem to be between 15 and 25% below the long-term average. In France and the U.K., industry estimates put the reduction in yields at possibly 20%.
Members of the Global Culinary Innovators Association (GCIA) learned about potato trends and witnessed a culinary demonstration at the Potatoes USA Spud Lab in late August. While visiting the Potatoes USA Spud Lab during their event, they received an overview of potato trends in foodservice and useful resources about potatoes.
The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates that potato production in the NEPG zone (EU-04) countries will on average be down by between 7 and 11 percent, with Belgian and French farmers most affected. The heat waves experienced in Europe throughout the summer would also have caused some quality and storage issues. With very much higher input costs and higher risks linked to climate change and the war in Ukraine, there is uncertainty about the 2023 season.
Development of the UK’s new Seed Potato Organisation is ‘quietly making progress’ and it will be launching in the next few months, as Gordon Davidson, News & Online Editor for The Scottish Farmer, reports. Following a packed-out session at the Potatoes in Practice event, a co-operative is now formally being set up to support the British seed potato sector.