Production/Agronomy

Researcher said to solve ‘potato herbicide puzzle’

When potato farmers show the University of Idaho’s Pamela Hutchinson apparent early season damage from herbicides, she wonders if excess rainfall is to blame. “The last three years, I’ve been asked by growers farmers to go out in the field in the spring or early summer. They see what they thought was herbicide damage to potatoes before or right after emergence,” she said. “Unusual conditions during the spring probably are what drove what you would consider injury. That condition was excess rainfall.” Hutchinson, associate professor and potato cropping-systems weed scientist with UI Extension in Aberdeen, is studying how excess rainfall plays into potato injury and weed control.

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Potato tuber treatment – specialist advice

Appropriate tuber treatment is an essential step in developing healthy and abundant harvests, according to potato specialists at AHDB in the UK. In a recent news article, AHDB says the cost of growing potatoes is likely to increase in the following years as a result of replacing lost chemicals; potential losses due to diseases must be avoided whenever possible through application of the correct treatment, starting with the seed. As this is a complex process, AHDB says potato seed producers, traders and end users are encouraged to seek information regarding the correct treatment procedure, such as the best time to apply the chemicals or the stage of the skin set.

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Upcoming WPC webinar: Prof Jacquie Van Der Waals on diseases threatening sustainable potato production

The World Potato Congress is pleased to be beginning its Fall webinar series on November 12, 2020 with Professor Jacquie van der Waals from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Professor van der Waals will present – “Above and Below Ground: Diseases threatening sustainable potato production”. This presentation will discuss three important disease complexes in potatoes, namely Rhizoctoniasis, soft rot and blackleg, early blight and brown spot. For each of these disease complexes, Prof van der Waals will introduce the pathogen, give a description of symptoms, discuss the disease cycle and touch on basic management principles.

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Ireland: End of the road for diquat on potato farms

Irish potato growers have been handed a minor reprieve from the EU’s campaign to reduce use of pesticides by 50%. Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has granted a temporary, once-off and short term emergency authorisation for diquat, writes Stephen Cadogan in a report for the Irish Examinar. He writes that diquat has been the most commonly used desiccant in the potato sector for many decades. It is no longer approved for use as a plant protection product within the EU, he says. However, to facilitate industry transition and to support growers as they move to other methods of dessicating potato crops, Minister McConalogue granted a derogation.

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UK: McDonald’s and McCain to invest in climate-friendly farming practices

McDonald’s has launched a “Sustainable MacFries Fund” in partnership with McCain to improve the resilience of British potato farmers, while also collaborating with the Walmart Foundation, WWF and Cargill in the US to improve land use practices, according to a report by Matt Mace, and published edie newsroom. The fund aims to support British potato farmers to use new techniques and technology that will improve soil quality and water management.

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High temperatures stall Canada’s Ontario potato harvest

Ontario’s potato harvest was progressing well, but had to stop over the past few days of the past week as temperatures rose above optimal harvest levels, according to Ontario’s potato specialist Eugenia Banks’ latest update. According to potato grower Joe Lach, there are a lot of odd-shaped potatoes and internal problems in the late crop. Grade out is high too. This is the result of a hot, dry summer, or as Lach put it “the wrath of nature.”

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How historic drought affects potato harvest in Maine’s Aroostook County

Aroostook County is experiencing a drought of historic proportions, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaring The County to be a drought disaster area. Rivers have dried up considerably, and potato crops, as with other crops in the area, have suffered due to the lack of water, reports Alexander MacDougall for Bangor Daily News. The USDA has made Aroostook farmers, as well as those living in adjacent counties, eligible for emergency funding.

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Innovative Farmers: Can brackish water be used for potato irrigation?

New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab and funded by AHDB in the UK will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation. Irrigation plays a vital role in potato quality. Growers in areas such as Holbeach Marsh, one of the driest regions in the UK, are facing considerable economic yield losses due to common scab. Under future climate projections AHDB and Innovative Farmers anticipate more unpredictability in rainfall events, increased saline intrusion of groundwater reserves and therefore a more vulnerable freshwater supply, which could impact on potato yields in the area.

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8 ways the Internet of Things is transforming the future of farming

Smart farms are defined as using modern technology and information to manage them. There are many new technologies available for farmers to use including sensors, software, robotics, GPS, connectivity, and data analytics. Farmers monitor their crops, soil, water, and temperatures without leaving their home. This is often called IoT in farming. In this article by Varsha Ambalkar, published by The Daily Plan IoT, the author looks in more detail at IoT in farming.

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National Potato Council and Corteva in Kenya to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers

The National Potato Council of Kenya and Corteva Agriscience have embarked on plans to increase yield among smallholder farmers from 7 tonnes to 20 tonnes per hectare. The partnership intends to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers in Kenya on how to improve potato yields through the use of quality seed, resilient and improved varieties, pest and disease management, post-harvest management, and record-keeping.

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Scottish farmers trial biocontrol methods in fight against PCN

Angus farmers are at the forefront of efforts to tackle the growing problem of potato cyst nematode (PCN) which is having a multi-million-pound impact on the Scottish industry every year. As chemical options are withdrawn from use, a group of producers and researchers have turned their attention to biocontrol methods, which include using a chitin-rich compost made from a substance that occurs naturally in shellfish.

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Potatoes New Zealand issues technical bulletin on Potato Tuber Moth management

As New Zealand Spring and Summer rolls towards potato growers, so too do the myriad of pest and disease management activities. One of the greatest challenges especially for growers, is the control of Potato Tuber Moth (PTM). Potatoes New Zealand’s recently completed PTM literature review looks at the various control approaches to this pest and suggests an integrated approach to PTM management. The review of scientific publications from the last 10 years on potato tuber moth research, focusses on several management options.

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UK: AHDB’s ‘Agronomy Week 2020’ to be hosted online

Agronomy Week will run from Monday 30 November to Friday 4 December. It will comprise a series of webinars aimed at agronomists on important issues in contemporary agronomy. This years’ conference will be entirely online and free to attend. To help delegates get the most out of this new format we have expanded the event into a week-long programme of digital events called ‘Agronomy Week’. Delegates can register for a series of webinars and interactive discussion sessions covering important issues on contemporary agronomy.

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Study: Future impact of climate change in Belgium and how it will effect the potato industry

The study “Evaluation of the socio-economic impact of climate change in Belgium” commissioned by the National Climate Commission has just been published. According to the authors of the report, global climate change in Belgium will mainly be felt through heat waves, floods and droughts. Warmer and drier summers, and milder and wetter winters are becoming the ‘new normal’. The increasing impact of drought on potato cultivation is a main concern for the potato fry industry, according to the authors of the report.

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Canadian crop update: Outlook mixed; total production expected to be down on last year

As the first day of fall arrives, the potato crop in the country is in varying stages of growth and/or harvest, writes Kevin MacIsaac in the latest Canadian crop update issued by the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). The general manager of UPGC says the production outlook is mixed after parts of Eastern Canada experienced one of their driest seasons on record, while growers in Western Canada work feverishly to harvest their crop from the ground after Mother Nature’s early onset of winter prevented them from doing so last year.

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BFA: SoilEssentials’ Jim Wilson and Robert Ramsay shortlisted for Agri-tech Innovator of the Year Award

Angus growers Jim Wilson and Robert Ramsay are improving potato production and reducing waste with their Tuberzone CropCast forecasting tool – and it’s now running worldwide. The pair run SoilEssentials, a precision technology company that taps into their farming experience to tackle industry challenges. It was announced recently that Jim and Robert are shortlisted for the prestigious Agri-tech Innovator of the Year Award by the the British Farming Awards (BFA).

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COVID-19 impact: Idaho’s 2020 potato crop prognosis

The outlook for the Idaho potato season was very promising at the beginning of the year. Then, in the middle of March, with the impact of the Corona virus becoming aparant here in the US and globally, everything changed. “It was fantastic,” says Idaho potato grower Randy Hardy. “Until the virus hit, I was telling people I’ve been farming for 48 years waiting for a year like this, because it was kind of like a perfect storm, you know? It looked like it was going to be a good marketing year…” But then the pandemic put an end to all of this. Bill Schaefer in Idaho produced a video in which the owners and managers of four prominent Idaho potato operations discuss the economic impact of Covid-19.

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Innovative Farmers programme: Deceiving potato cyst nematodes with trap crops

Through the Innovative Farmers programme, four farmers located in Shropshire and Lancashire in the UK are looking at an alternative control method that uses plants known as trap crops that naturally ward off potato cyst nematodes (PCN). Trap crops are better described as ‘deceiving’ rather than ‘trapping’ plants. The chemicals released from the trap crop roots signal the presence of suitable food and trigger the nematodes to emerge from their safe hiding place in the cyst. The nematodes begin feeding on the trap plant roots instead of the potatoes, ahead of potato cropping.

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Early seed potato harvest presents dry rot risk

With the Scottish seed potato harvest beginning a fortnight ahead of normal, SRUC consultant Dr Stuart Wale has reminded growers of the threat from dry rot, according to a news article published by Potato Review magazine. He recommends two fungicide options in this situation: Gavel (imazalil) and Storite Excel (thiabendazole) which can be used alone or in mixture. Dr Wale urged growers to have a conversation with their seed suppliers sooner rather than later to discuss treatment.

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Glyphosate EU licence renewal dossier published online

An alliance of chemical firms has published thousands of scientific studies online to support its application for the EU licence renewal of glyphosate, which is due to expire in December 2022. The dossier contains approximately 1,500 scientific studies. Roundup users have blamed the weedkiller for causing their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. But Bayer has strongly denied the claims and repeatedly defended the product’s 40-year safety record.

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National project led by U of I tackles virus threats to potato industry

A University of Idaho-led team will tackle a pair of viruses that cause major losses to the potato industry. In a press release issued by the University, it is said that U of I researcher and potato virus expert Alex Karasev will lead the project funded by a $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The team of two dozen scientists will target potato virus Y (PVY) and potato mop top virus (PMTV) in seed potatoes, the first level of commercial potato production, and in potatoes grown for market.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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