Production/Agronomy

New rules for Idaho PCN field quarantines

U.S. officials have released a new plan involving methods to deal with pale cyst nematode discovered in 2006 in some southeastern Idaho potato fields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final rule that takes effect at the end of January. It sets out years-long criteria for killing off the pests and reopening quarantined fields to production. The new rule follows a 2018 court decision in a lawsuit filed by potato farmers that found the U.S. government illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields.

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Potato early dying disease in the spotlight at Canadian Potato Summit

Potato early dying disease, also known as Verticillium wilt, results in early potato maturity and can limit yield by as much as 50 per cent. What can Canadian growers do to protect their spuds? Mario Tenuta and Dmytro Yevtushenko of the Canadian Potato Early Dying Network (CanPEDNet) will share research updates on this disease during the upcoming Canadian Potato Summit on February 3.

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‘Stop/start’ harvest results in challenging year for Irish potato growers

Not getting the maincrop harvest completed until the days directly before Christmas has added considerably to the production costs incurred during 2020 by some potato growers including William Monagle from Co. Donegal. “Usually, we would be out of the fields at some stage during November; we normally start harvesting at the beginning of October,” Monagle told Richard Halleron of AgriLand. “An extended harvest adds to growers’ costs. Adding to the challenges faced by producers is the fact that average yields were down by around 20% last year.

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AHDB applies for Emergency Authorisations after Vydate ban

Following an announcement that nematode treatment Vydate 10g has not been re-authorised and as of 1 January this year it is no longer approved for use in the UK, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has applied for emergency approval to provide limited use of the product for the 2021 growing season. Following consultation with stakeholders AHDB submitted requests for emergency approvals for those Vydate uses where growers lack alternative pest control options.

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Webinar: Global climate change and potato storages

The World Potato Congress (WPC Inc) is pleased to present its next webinar on January 14, 2021 with Todd Forbush, long-time engineer with Techmark, Inc. Todd’s presentation is titled: “The impact of climate change on removing energy from a potato storage with an ambient air ventilation system”. Todd will inform participants about ambient air potato storage ventilation systems relying on cool outside air to remove energy from the potato storage resulting from both field heat and potato respiration.

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Canada: Potato growers and researchers collaborate to implement sustainable farming practices

The Living Laboratories Initiative is a four-year research partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), farmers and environmental organizations, where research is co-developed and managed on farms to produce farming practices tailored to local environments. Launched in 2019, the Atlantic site – located in Prince Edward Island (PEI) – is the first-of-its-kind in Canada. Research at Living Lab – Atlantic is addressing several key areas impacting potato producers in PEI, including soil health, water quality management and crop productivity.

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Future Farming: You cannot hide from the satellite!

There are many movies where satellites offer scary surveillance capabilities. Of course, it is science fiction, but with the latest commercial satellites some level of space surveillance of crops and fields can be achieved. Besides the Big Brother effect, farmers can also benefit from the satellite imagery with increasing detail that become readily available at increasing cadence, writes Tamme van der Wal, scientist at Wageningen University in this article published by Future Farming.

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Canadian Potato Summit – 2021

The Canadian Potato Summit is a yearly update for what’s happening in the Canadian potato industry, hosted by Potatoes in Canada magazine. Join industry members and growers in a virtual format to stay updated on research, industry projects and the latest field insights. The organizers say the interactive event will arm participants with tools and information they need to kick off a successful growing season. The schedule and sessions as these stand now are published below.

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UK: Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms Results Week – Harvest 2020

AHDB Potatoes in the UK invites everyone for a week of online events exploring the work from its Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms from January 19 – 21. Online sessions hosted by AHDB will bring the growers, agronomists and researchers who have delivered field trials in 2020 together to discuss the work, deliver results and talk about what they learned. AHDB’s SPot Farms this year grew everything from certified seed, through salads to maincrop for the fresh and processing markets. With a range of geographical locations, soil types and challenges – there is something to learn for all growers.

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Documentary: Drones, robots, and super sperm – the future of farming

The future of farming: Driverless tractors, drones and robots. How is the agriculture industry changing as digital technology develops? Unmanned tractors controlled via GPS; drones that kill vermin in the fields from above; and highly efficient bull sperm used to produce genetically optimized calves. This is not science fiction. It’s the future of farming, today. “Smart farming” is the agricultural industry’s new buzzword, says the producers of this video by Deutsche Welle Documentary.

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‘Fight the blight’: CIP developed an app to help potato farmers in developing countries reduce agrochemical use

Late blight disease remains the biggest threat to potato farming globally, causing USD billions of crop loss each year. In most areas, farmers can only grow potatoes if they regularly apply fungicides, which control the highly destructive pathogen but pose risks to the environment, farmers and their families. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) have developed an easy-to-use decision support tool to help farmers optimize their fungicide use.

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Potato Forum convenes: Republic of Georgia in a quest to boost its potato sector

Last week, key actors from the Republic of Georgia’s potato sector convened virtually to discuss ideas to enhance the country’s potato sector. Dubbed the “Georgia Potato Forum,” the meeting focused on ways to develop value chains to improve market opportunities for farmers while providing markets and consumers with higher-quality potatoes. The Forum was the first in a series that will continue into 2021.

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Specialist opinion: ‘Adopting IPM on commercial farms’ – An insight from New Zealand

During the recent CropTec show in the UK – which was hosted and presented as a virtual, online event – Prof Alison Stewart from New Zealand shared her experience of developing and implementing IPM on commercial farms. She is the CEO of the Foundation for Edible Research in New Zealand. Prof Stewart says there are a large number of global challenges out there for agriculture in every country in the world, and New Zealand is no different.

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Australia: Specialists explore effect of sanitisers and drying on post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes

Management of rots, both in the field and post-harvest, is an ongoing challenge for potato producers around the world, also in Australia. The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Partnership Network recently hosted a podcast during which two specialists from the US and Belgium discussed a trial that was set up in Australia to explore the effect of sanitisers and/or drying on the development of post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes.

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Hummingbird demonstrates the value of remote sensing and data analytics for potato seed trials

Many of Hummingbird’s clients have used its remoting sensing technology and data analytic capabilities for numerous crop trials across Europe in the past few seasons. One of Hummingbird’s clients was particularly interested in evaluating the establishment and growth rate differences when planting chitted versus non chitted potato seed in a split field trial. Hummingbird then proceeded to provide the client with high resolution UAV drone analytics at specific growth stages throughout the cropping season.

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Smart farming: How IoT-driven precision agriculture helps feed the globe

In the agriculture industry, farmers face an ever-growing demand to produce more food, even as they struggle to protect their farms against extreme weather, climate change, environmental impact, and more. To meet the increasing needs of a growing population and get the most yield from their farms, growers are turning to new technology powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Breakthrough discovery: How Colorado potato beetles beat pesticides

In a first-of-its-kind study, led by Prof. Yolanda Chen at the University of Vermont (UVM), the research team shows that epigenetic changes, passed to new generations, may solve the paradox of rapid pesticide resistance by the infamous Colorado potato beetle. For more than a 150 years the Colorado potato beetle eventually managed to overcome most every pesticide thrown its way. The UVM study moves dramatically closer to an explanation.

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Smallest crop since 1918: Maine potato growers rise to the challenge of weather and pandemic

This past year has thrown several challenges at Maine potato farmers, leading to decreased production amidst the chaos of a pandemic. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s crop production forecast for November reported Maine potato production at 13.4 million cwt, down 20 percent from last year’s forecast. Bob Davis, president at Maine Farmers Exchange, based in Presque Isle, ME, attributed the decrease to a very dry summer. “It will make our crop the smallest Maine has had since 1918,” he said.

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Hazel Tech gets USDA funding for potato quality technology

Hazel Technologies Inc., a USDA-funded technology company delivering new solutions for fresh produce to extend shelf-life, increase sales, and fight food waste, announces new USDA-funding for a packaging technology which protects the quality of potatoes. The technology, dubbed Hazel Root, is a packaging insert, placed in a bulk box or bin of potatoes or onions during storage following harvest, which prevents the sprouting process from starting prematurely.

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Western Canada takes over country’s potato production

Manitoba and Alberta were the number one and two potato-producing provinces in 2020, thanks in large part to hot weather and poor yields in Prince Edward Island. Statistics Canada data, released in early December, said nationwide potato production was 104.2 million hundredweight, down 1.3 percent from 2019. The data also shows a massive yield gap of 100 to 150 cwt. per acre between the Maritimes and Western Canada.

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Idaho family farming operation invests in soil probiotic technology for organic potato production

The owners of Hubbard Ranch in Grace, Idaho, transitioned to growing organically last year. But with less than favorable results in their first season, they knew they needed to make cost-effective adjustments. They decided to look into using products that would increase the natural biology in the soil and prevent yield loss. It was recommended that they try a microbial soil amendment.

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Storage life in a post-CIPC world: Maleic Hydrazide as an alternative sprout suppressant

With the withdrawal of CIPC now a certainty in the UK, the race is on to plug the sizeable gap left in a potato store manager’s toolkit. Maleic Hydrazide (MH) may already be familiar to growers as a foliar spray used to control volunteers but research has shown in many cases that it should be an integral part of a sprout suppression strategy. In this article, the AHDB Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research Team provides guidelines for the use of MH as a sprout inhibitor.

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Disease-suppressive crops at work: The prevention and management of soilborne potato diseases

Disease-suppressive crops work in multiple ways: by not being a crop host to the disease, by actively lowering pathogen levels, and by boosting soil health so the overall growing environment is more resilient to disease. In a recent episode of Potatoes in Canada’s Tuber Talk podcast series, Robert Larkin, a USDA-ARS research plant pathologist based in Maine, discussed the different ways crops can lower disease pressure and all about soil health more broadly.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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