A research team in Italy studied acrylamide levels in over 15,000 food samples and found potato-based products and coffee were the top sources of exposure to the potentially carcinogenic compound. The study also revealed that mitigation measures by the European Union have made a significant difference over time, notably decreasing contamination levels. However, it equally emphasized continuous monitoring and strict regulation to maintain these improvements and ensure public health.
Rob Sears, a PhD student at the University of Tennessee, developed a potato plant that glows green in response to gamma radiation, serving as a natural radiation detector. This phytosensor is ideal for widespread use due to potatoes’ resilience and adaptability. The innovation offers a simple, cost-effective method for radiation monitoring, potentially enhancing safety in nuclear energy contexts. As nuclear energy continues to be used across the world, there is an increased demand for effective and easily accessible radiation detection methods.
Researchers at the University of Idaho and the USDA/ERS conducted a study to identify soil health practices that are acceptable to farmers. The study considered several factors, including their production systems, land management, and farmers’ attitudes toward these practices. It highlights the challenges of intensive farming on soil health and explores factors influencing farmers’ decisions, such as profitability, land tenure, and capital constraints. The research aims to identify acceptable practices for farmers to promote soil health and profitability.
A team led by Zsofia Szendrei at MSU received a $6 million USDA grant to develop sustainable pest management strategies for U.S. potato farming, moving away from neonicotinoids. The team will explore alternative management solutions in lieu of using neonicotinoids. This grant was initiated through discussions with growers and potato industry representatives who highlighted the need for a project like this in 2020. The project, involving experts across various fields, will explore alternative insecticides and long-term industry impacts.
Researchers from the University of Idaho and the USDA-ARS are conducting a study to combat ‘cutting black’, a significant issue in the potato industry causing considerable revenue loss. This phenomenon, where stored potatoes develop dark bruises, impacts 10-20% of the fresh potato market. Funded by a $42,470 grant, the team is testing three compounds to prevent the darkening of bruised tissue. This research could revolutionize storage practices and reduce waste, as potatoes stored for extended periods often suffer from pressure bruises.
The University of Idaho’s new thermogradient table allows scientists to study the impact of temperature on weed emergence, aiding the development of models to optimize herbicide application timing. The research, led by Albert Adjesiwor and doctoral student Chandra Maki, will provide growers with data-driven insights to tackle herbicide resistance by applying preemergence herbicides more effectively based on local temperature conditions, improving weed control across the Pacific Northwest.
Innovating organic: OSU researchers receive $2M to look for new ways to prevent organic potatoes from spoiling
Oregon State University has received a $2 million USDA grant to develop anti-sprouting treatments for organic potatoes. The project addresses the growing organic market’s need for alternatives to synthetic chemicals, which are banned in organic farming. The research team is exploring natural products, like plant essential oils, and aims to create controlled-release methods to enhance storage life without compromising safety or quality, as U.S. organic food sales exceed $60 billion.
The UK’s largest potato supplier, Branston, is exploring a farm-scale net-zero project to enhance efficiency and sustainability in the potato supply chain. This three-year project involves trials like a novel potato pulp fertiliser, nitrogen-fixing biostimulant, and min-till pilots, aiming to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining commercial viability. The project, now in its second year, is conducted by Branston’s field technology manager, Andy Blair, with host farmers David Armstrong and John Stirling in Lincolnshire and Scotland, respectively.
This article, based on research by Stephen A. Fleming and Jenny R. Morris at Traverse Science in Illinois, challenges the negative perception of potatoes, focusing on their nutritional value and health impact. It argues that potatoes are high-quality carbohydrates, comparable to legumes and grains. The study highlights the importance of preparation methods and dietary context, showing that potatoes can contribute positively to a balanced diet and should not be excluded based on their glycemic index alone.
Argentinian scientists develop first Latin American genetically edited potato to prevent enzymatic browning
Argentinian scientists from INTA are set to release Latin America’s first genetically edited potato, developed using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This innovation, part of Dr. Matías González’s doctoral thesis, aims to inhibit the gene causing enzymatic browning, a process that affects potatoes’ flavor, texture, and nutritional value. The edited potato could significantly reduce food waste and financial losses for farmers and retailers.
‘Spuds to energy’: Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island want to make hydrogen from potato peels
Researchers at UPEI in Canada are innovating green energy by converting potato peels into hydrogen gas. Led by Yulin Hu, the project explores syngas production from food waste, with Nasim Mia studying UV light’s role in the process. Funded by various sources, this research is part of a broader initiative to transition from petroleum to hydrogen energy, promising significant environmental benefits and solutions for a greener future.
The UK potato farming sector, worth approximately £4.5 billion, is threatened by potato cyst nematodes (PCN), particularly in Scotland where 77% of Great Britain’s seed potatoes are produced. Dr. James Price of The James Hutton Institute, managing the Scottish PCN Working Group, highlights in the GB PCN Forum Newsletter the challenges posed by PCN, including drastic yield reductions and difficulties in control. Scottish legislation prohibits growing seed potatoes in PCN-infected land, yet PCN affects nearly 21,000 ha in Scotland.
In a groundbreaking new study, scientists from the University of Minnesota, including Prof. Chengyan Yue, Vanessa Kambi, and Dr. Lauran Shannon, are surveying global growers on true potato seed (TPS) usage, a promising yet under-researched alternative to traditional tuber seeds. The survey aims to gather insights into growers’ preferences and successful strategies, with significant potential to transform potato farming practices. The study’s findings, expected to influence agricultural practices and policies, will be publicly shared post-research.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension showcased a potato study at Aroostook Farm, revealing how different PVY strains affect crop health and marketability. The field day highlighted the subtle symptoms of the dominant PVY-NTN strain, challenging traditional control methods. Experts recommended early crop oil application and systemic insecticides in grains to combat the aphid-spread virus, emphasizing integrated pest management to protect Maine’s potato industry.
Renaissance BioScience has partnered with Certis Belchim to create a sustainable biopesticide using innovative RNA interference technology. Their joint development agreement focuses on developing a yeast-based RNAi biopesticide targeting a specific agricultural pest. This collaboration aims to produce a highly effective plant protection product that balances crop safety with environmental and biodiversity conservation.
Royal HZPC Group is set to revolutionize potato research with a new universal variety set for academic institutions, launching on November 3, 2023. Available from January 1, 2024, within the EU, this set offers diverse in vitro plantlets to expedite research. It embodies Royal HZPC’s commitment to sustainable potato breeding and global food supply, inviting collaboration to advance knowledge and improve crop understanding. More information is available at www.hzpc.com/96.
At the foot of the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing, British scientist Philip Kear is cultivating disease-resistant potatoes within the greenhouse of the China Center for Asia and the Pacific (CCCAP) of the International Potato Center (CIP). Kear aims to enhance potato productivity in China and globally. The initiative also seeks to identify genes resistant to various diseases, fostering international cooperation to combat challenges like potato late blight.
Prof. Carl Rosen, a renowned Extension nutrient management specialist at the University of Minnesota, unveils insights on potato nutrient management in a recent article. Highlighting the importance of nitrogen efficiency, he suggests strategies like realistic target rates and split applications. The research also delves into the challenges of improving soil health in potato systems and the role of phosphorus and potassium in yield and quality.
Hugo Campos, roots, tubers and banana breeding lead at CGIAR, discusses the global challenge of anemia, especially in children, in a recent article published by The Des Moines Register. Highlighting the higher prevalence in low-income countries, Campos emphasizes the potential of biofortification. The International Potato Center’s development of iron-enriched potatoes aims to combat anemia. These potatoes can provide essential iron, especially in regions with high potato consumption. This innovation offers a sustainable solution to address iron deficiencies and improve global health.
Researchers from Shandong Agricultural University in China have published a paper on the applications of the CRISPR/Cas system in potato breeding. The paper highlights the advantages of CRISPR/Cas over older technologies, emphasizing its simplicity and efficiency. Potatoes, being the third most consumed food globally, can benefit from this technology to improve yield, quality, and stress resistance. The CRISPR/Cas system has been used to address challenges like late blight resistance, enzymatic browning, and enhancing nutritional quality.
‘From superfood to super crop’: Univ of Idaho researchers find promise in quinoa as rotation crop to curb PCN
Researchers at the University of Idaho have identified quinoa, often hailed as a “superfood,” as a potential solution to the pale cyst nematode (PCN) infestation plaguing potato farmers in eastern Idaho. Quinoa, which has seen a surge in cultivation in the region, functions as a “trap crop” by stimulating the PCN to hatch without providing a viable host. This reduces the nematode’s viability in the soil. While another plant, the litchi tomato, has shown even greater effectiveness in combating PCN, it lacks the economic advantages of quinoa.
Chemotherapy, thermotherapy and cryotherapy: New Zealand scientists unveil innovative methods to eradicate PVS, PVA, and PVM viruses
New Zealand scientists have developed a groundbreaking method to eradicate Potato Virus S (PVS), Potato Virus A (PVA), and Potato Virus M (PVM) from in vitro-grown potato shoots. The study, published in “Frontiers in Plant Science,” revealed that combining chemotherapy and cryotherapy was highly effective in producing virus-free potato plants. This advancement is vital for the potato industry, ensuring a supply of healthy planting material. The findings address New Zealand’s plant biosecurity concerns and have global implications for potato farming.
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Michigan have discovered that potato starch may modify the gut microbiome in bone marrow transplant patients, potentially reducing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) complications. The study, published in Nature Medicine, found that over 80% of participants safely consumed the potato starch supplement, leading to increased gut butyrate levels. This dietary intervention could enhance the success of bone marrow transplants.
CHAP, one of four UK Agri-Tech innovation centres in the UK, is set to present groundbreaking research on solanaceous trap crops (STCs) for managing potato cyst nematode (PCN) at an event on October 31, 2023, in Woodbridge. The DEFRA-funded DeCyst project will showcase two innovative STC products and discuss their integration into crop rotation. The free event, featuring experts from Produce Solutions and Harper Adams University, promises insights into sustainable farming alternatives to traditional chemical solutions.