Masaki Shimono has joined the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno as a research scientist, studying beneficial microbes to improve and mitigate disease in potatoes during storage. He is looking into how long-term storage conditions affect potatoes in terms of water loss and disease decay due to plant pathogens. Soft and dry rot, caused by bacterium and fungus, respectively, are two important diseases being investigated.
Minimizing soil disturbance is one of the key tenets promoted to build soil health in agricultural systems. Many farmers across the country have adopted reduced and no-till systems to build soil carbon, a central component to healthy soils. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 1st Soils Matter blog explores options to improve soil health for crops that grow underground – like potatoes.
Potato farmers depend on Steve Johnson. At least they did for 34 years. Now Johnson, who retired on June 30, is taking his expertise to other parts of the world. He has harvested 33 consecutive crops of research potatoes, and pioneered an “electronic potato” that became the industry standard for calibrating harvesters to reduce bruising the crop in the field. He also has shared his expertise throughout Maine and across the world, in places like Australia, Guatemala and Macedonia.
A University of Idaho researcher’s predictive model shows soil temperatures last winter didn’t get cold enough throughout most of the state to kill volunteer potatoes in fields and spuds in cull piles. In addition to posing a weedy nuisance, volunteer potatoes and tubers that sprout in cull piles can provide a reservoir for pests such as nematodes and crop diseases such as viruses and late blight. Phillip Wharton, an associate professor in U of I’s Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, developed the model.
Agri-tech company granted funding to develop novel pre-harvest detection of wireworms in potato fields
Agri-tech research and development company B-hive Innovations has been successfully awarded funding to investigate methods of detecting and mapping wireworm populations to help manage this very damaging potato pest. The insect infestation typically goes unnoticed until harvest, by which point it can be too late and not possible to salvage the plant.
Quest for novel fungicides: Researchers exploiting soil microbiomes in the fight against potato late blight
Natural organisms found in soil and their use as novel fungicides is being explored in a new collaborative project to help farmers overcome potato late blight. The work centres on utilising the latest cutting-edge technology to analyse soil microbiomes – the complex interaction of billions of microbial organisms found within soil. The aim is to identify bacteria with fungicidal properties against Phytophthora infestans, with a view to harvesting the active compounds.
The ‘potato vine crusher’: New take on an old invention could help potato farmers crush the weed competition
Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) tested the effectiveness of previously designed equipment, the ‘potato vine crusher’, on reducing common lambs quarter, redroot pigweed, barnyard grass, yellow foxtail and volunteer canola weeds that are found in potato crops. The results of the potato vine crusher’s ability to reduce weed pressure was impressive for Dr. McKenzie-Gopsill and his team at AAFC.
While many have heard of the Caribou Russet variety of potato, many may not know one of the faces behind it’s creation. Brian Bouchard spoke with one of the researchers who is being honored internationally for his work – Greg Porter, Professor of Agronomy for the University of Maine. He said he never intended to become a researcher. Porter received the Honorary Life Membership Award from the Potato Association of America (PAA), the highest award they can bestow.
The European Association for Potato Research (EAPR) Council has awarded two honorary memberships to celebrate people with outstanding achievements in potato research and significant contributions to the association. Two new honorary members were announced on 7th of July 2022, during the conference dinner of 21st Triennial Conference of EAPR in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland: Mike Storey and Kazimiera Zgórska.
New research from Western University has found potato beetles can break down and regrow muscles on demand, allowing them to preserve energy over the winter, as Jeff Renaud of the University of Western Ontario reports in this article published by Phys.Org. This explains how beetles are able to save energy all winter, yet be ready fly and mate immediately in the spring.
Improving the reliability of trap cropping to help farmers overcome potato cyst nematode (PCN) pressure, is being investigated as part of a new feasibility study, funded by Defra and Innovate UK. The project will look at ‘DeCyst solanaceous’ trap crops, which stimulate PCN to hatch at a different point in the rotation to when potatoes are planted. As a result, mature female PCN are prevented from completing their lifecycle, reducing the impact on potato crops.
Gustavo Teixeira knows the best way to supply more food to a growing population is by wasting less of it. As a new assistant professor and potato postharvest physiologist with University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Teixeira will use advanced scientific techniques to help Idaho potato growers, processors and shippers waste fewer of the spuds they harvest.
This op-ed article is by Dave Douches (PhD), professor and Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program and Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and Project Director of the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. “As a scientist working in potato breeding for over 40 years, one may wonder why I am talking about trust and critical thinking.”
Canadian research: Using hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality more quickly, efficiently
Currently, the traditional way to find out whether or not a potato is good to go to market is basic and old-fashioned – cut it open and look to see if there are defects. A new research project at Lethbridge College aims to use cutting-edge near-infrared (NIR) hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality such as internal defects, greening and specific gravity more quickly and efficiently.
University of Idaho entomology doctoral student Kelie Yoho’s research suggests mineral oils could offer an environmentally friendly tool to help potato seed growers avoid losses to potato virus Y (PVY). U of I master’s student Nathan Gelles has studied promising methods to promote sprouting in freshly harvested potatoes.
Farmers throughout southern and eastern Idaho were befuddled by the bizarre symptoms of crop damage that surfaced in their potato fields following a brief period of heavy rainfall in May of 2017. Pam Hutchinson, University of Idaho Extension potato cropping systems weed specialist, has studied the problem – heavy rains prior to potato emergence can move herbicides too deep into the soil, where they’re more accessible by shoots and tuber roots than usual, which could, in turn, cause crop damage.
Traditionally, potato producers in Canada use the late fall to prep their potato beds for the following spring. The long-established process has its benefits, but also creates concerns, including loss of soil fertility. A new research project at Lethbridge College will work to determine what steps can be taken to ensure the best result for producers, while also moving towards environmentally sustainable agriculture practices.
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers modify potato starches to increase culinary and industrial applications
Humble potatoes are a rich source not only of dietary carbohydrates for humans, but also of starches for numerous industrial applications. Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are learning how to alter the ratio of potatoes’ two starch molecules – amylose and amylopectin – to increase both culinary and industrial applications.
Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island are beginning their search for a potato variety more resistant to potato wart following a provincial economic loss of 300 million pounds of potatoes. Xiuquan (Xander) Wang, a UPEI associate professor working on the project, said the funding from Genome Atlantic will go toward comparing the genes of different potato varieties.
The Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has appointed Richard Harrison as the Managing Director of the Plant Sciences Group (PSG) as of 1 September 2022. Richard Harrison currently leads NIAB’s research work in arable crops, and NIAB’s contribution to the Crop Science Centre, an alliance between the University of Cambridge and NIAB.
The International Potato Center (CIP), the globally active Dutch seed potato company HZPC, and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) recently announced the launch of a second, five-year phase of their partnership to develop climate-resilient potatoes for tropical and subtropical conditions. CIP and HZPC will combine their experience, resources and germplasm to breed and select potato varieties suitable for farmers in tropical and subtropical Asia.
Plants can’t speak up when they are thirsty. And visual signs, such as shriveling or browning leaves, don’t start until it’s too late. Now, researchers have created a wearable sensor for leaves that shares data to a smartphone app and website about the percent of water content lost by the plant.
Potato storage is one of the backbones of Idaho’s iconic spud industry. After being harvested, more than 80 percent of the state’s potato crop is stored until it’s needed by processors and other customers. Efforts by University of Idaho researchers to improve potato storage technology got a boost recently thanks to a $1 million investment to create an endowed research professorship.
A good source of fibre and full of antioxidants, the potato is one of the most important food crops in the world – a crop that climate change is taking its toll on. How do different potatoes respond to heat, drought and waterlogging stresses? EU-backed scientists are investigating the changes that make potatoes resilient or susceptible.
Imagine being able to prevent childhood blindness with rice. No, this isn’t a biblical miracle. It’s the reality of genetically modified organisms. A 2015 Pew survey found that a majority of Americans don’t think GMO foods are safe to eat. But the same poll found a notable exception to that trend. 88% of scientists said they were safe to eat. Why?
The health and success of Idaho’s staple crop is receiving renewed support with the launch of the new University of Idaho Seed Potato Germplasm Laboratory. As Emily Pearce reports for Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the $5.6 million lab opened its doors to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, complete with potato-themed desserts and guided tours of the new space.