Research

Research discovery could provide strategy to increase potato yields

James Hutton Institute plant scientists in the UK have discovered that a specific protein encoded by the potato genome is a key component of tuberisation, the process by which the potato plant initiates and develops tubers,. The research findings have been unveiled in the latest issue of The Plant Journal, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and the Scottish Government’s RESAS Strategic Research Programme. It is hoped that the genetic discovery will enable potato breeders to develop fast-maturing, more resilient potato varieties that will safeguard production during climate change.

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UK late blight fungicide trials: ‘No significant decline in sensitivity found’

Results from blight fungicide testing show no significant decline in sensitivity according to research supported by AHDB. Data taken from trials carried out throughout 2019 means no changes in recommendations for blight control issued by the Fungicide Resistance Action Group (FRAG). Research leader David Cooke said: “…this data does not show any immediate cause for concern for potato growers that newer blight genotypes are causing problems for fungicide programmes.

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Hi-tech potato industry boosts poverty alleviation in China

The potato industry in Ulanqab, dubbed the “potato city” of China, has become one of the main industries to help farmers shake off poverty. Located in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ulanqab is an important national production hub for commercial potatoes and special potatoes for processing. The potatoes here originate from petri dishes in a laboratory. The laboratory can breed 150 million virus-free seedlings every year.

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Postdoc development of a decision-support system for potato production

Are you that enthusiastic researcher that likes to work on modelling and programming, and apply it to improve processes in crop production? ‘Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production’ (Potato Gap NL) is a project funded by NWO and Holland Innovative Potato (HIP), an initiative of 10 companies active in the potato value chain and prominent global players in the fields of potato breeding and processing. Increases in potato yields in the Netherlands have been relatively small compared to other crops.

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New trials: Trap crop for control of PCN in potato crops

Four group members of The Shropshire Potato Growers Discussion Group in the UK are hosting trials on their farm this year looking at trap crops as a method of PCN control. For potato growers in the UK one of the biggest threats to production and sustainability are the potato cyst nematodes (PCN) (Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis) which can result in significant yield losses.

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The ‘natural dormancy’ factor: Independent data now available

A number of factors contribute to effective potato sprout suppression and, where possible, strategies should make the best use of all of them. One such factor is dormancy, say specialists at AHDB’s at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research unit. The current data on varietal dormancy is of variable quality and AHDB has commissioned a trial to generate relative dormancy data from a range of varieties representative of the different end markets for potatoes.

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Podcast: ‘Focusing on the Future by Investing in Agronomy Research’

A new podcast by Eye on Potatoes is now available for listening. At Potato Expo 2020, Eye on Potatoes sat down with some of the industry’s leading researchers and specialists for a discussion on the current research and where future efforts need to focus. Plus, NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in to provide an update on USDA’s decision to revise the payment rates for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

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Research study provides basis for new processing strategies to mitigate acrylamide formation, improve chip quality

Potato chips are among the highest contributors to the dietary intake of acrylamide, a potent neurotoxin and likely carcinogen in heat-processed foods, says a Canadian research team, whose study on acrylamide formation in chips was recently published online in the journal Food Control. The research team says their findings provide the basis for new processing strategies to mitigate acrylamide formation, and improve the quality of chips from these, and possibly other, potato cultivars.

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The cost of potato haulm desiccation without diquat

According to AHDB in the UK, Spotlight and/or Gozai straights or combinations, along with flailing, can give virtually as quick desiccation as diquat. This was shown in trials and demonstrations across AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm network to evaluate potential replacements have shown. But at what cost? Dr Mark Stalham, Head of NIAB CUF who led the trials, reveals the results, and Mark Topliff from AHDB’s Farm Economics team crunches the numbers.

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Innovative Farmers: Establishing potato cyst nematode trap crops

Innovative Farmers, a not for profit membership network for farmers and growers in the UK, reports on a ‘field lab’ that explores the practice of establishing trap crops to control potato cyst nematode (PCN) – the UK’s primary potato pest. Currently, the main control option is to use nematicides hazardous to operators and the environment, which only prevent one season’s crop yield and do not prevent PCN increase. Innovative Farmers says an alternative cultural control method is the use of trap crops, which limit nematode multiplication and reduce existing soil PCN populations.

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AHDB webinar: Putting research into practice

Listen during this upcoming AHDB Potatoes webinar tomorrow (9 July) to what potato growers are planning across the AHDB strategic farm network. Through the week folks will have learnt about markets, research and commercial innovation – this session will discuss how this is being applied in the field and what growers can do to progress. Eric Anderson will offer an agronomist’s perspective on how we can build better strategies towards PCN management and the latest views on alternative approaches to virus control.

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Virus that combats potato diseases named after Cork in Ireland

A new group of helpful viruses which tackle the diseases which blight potato crops have been named Cork, the second largest city in Ireland. Colin Buttimer, the 31 year-old researcher who discovered ‘Corkvirinae’, said he is delighted to name the new viruses after where they were found. But more importantly, he said they have the potential for controlling potato late blight. The name Corkvirinae has now been ratified by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

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In defense of potatoes

In the world of nutrition, potatoes seem to have fallen from grace. Meanwhile, sweet potatoes still — largely — get away scot-free. What is this travesty? Angela Dowden, British award-winning health journalist and Registered Nutritionist examines the evidence in this article published by the American Council on Science and Health.

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Fascinating: Amber fossils reveal the true colors of 99-million-year-old insects

Researchers have discovered the true colors of a group of fossilized insects, trapped in amber approximately 99 million years ago in Myanmar. The ancient insects include cuckoo wasps, soldier flies, and beetles, all bursting in metallic blue, purple, and green colors. “The amber is mid-Cretaceous, approximately 99 million years old, dating back to the golden age of dinosaurs,” said Cai Chenyan, the lead author, in a press release.

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Trending: ‘The Age of Agrochemicals is Ending – It’s Time for Agricultural Biotechnology’

As Europe moves to reduce its reliance on agrochemicals in the farming system over the next 10 years and beyond, a crucial question emerges: what replaces them? Agricultural biotechnology could provide the answer, writes Farhan Mitha in this insightful article published by Labiotech Insider. The use of agrochemicals — pesticides, fertilizers, and plant growth enhancers — has been crucial to humanity over the last century. Yet, their impact on the environment has become too profound to ignore, and they’re increasingly seen as 20th-century instruments that are ill-suited for 21st-century challenges.

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Idaho research company put custom built plot sprayer to work

This tractor sprayer that you will see in action in the video below was custom built by Terry Miller and Scott Anderson for Miller Research, based in Rupert, Idaho. The company says the sprayer “is great for applying chemical to our research plots. This video shows the many features of our spray tractors, as well as how we calibrate for our sprays.” The tractor can hold twelve tanks for twelve different treatments. Each slot has a magnet that agitates the product in the tank.

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Potato Showcase week: AHDB to share market, agronomy, research information with growers

The British potato industry would usually gather over the course of the summer with events across the country, but due to current restrictions AHDB says it is facing the challenges of finding new ways to get together and share information across the industry. The Potato Knowledge Exchange team at AHDB pulled together a week long programme of information – 6th to 9th July – which would have been showcased in field activities.

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Univ of Maine researchers want to enhance competitiveness of potato rotation crops

A team of University of Maine at Presque Isle faculty members and students have begun work in the Zillman Family Greenhouse on a research project funded by a $12,333 USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant. The project aims to support Maine potato growers by enhancing the competitiveness of potato rotation crops through cropping system innovations. The research team is working to determine if mycorrhizal inoculant can improve the seed yield and plant biomass of oat and barley varieties commonly grown as rotation crops by potato farmers in Maine.

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Research breakthrough: Fast-maturing, resilient potatoes in Hutton researchers’ sights

New research by James Hutton Institute plant scientists has found that a specific protein encoded by the potato genome is a key component of tuberisation – the process by which the potato plant initiates and develops tubers. It is hoped that the genetic discovery will be harnessed by potato breeders to develop fast-maturing, more resilient potato varieties that will safeguard production in an era of climate change, work that is being taken forward with industry partners.

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AHDB: Dealing with aphids in Britain during 2020 and beyond

The management of aphids, particularly those that transmit viruses, has been a focus of concern for potato growers in recent seasons in Britain. AHDB (virtually) sat down with Crop Protection Senior Scientist for Pests, Dr Sue Cowgill, to talk monitoring, testing and research projects that will help growers manage the issue.

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Desiccation research: Reaching skinset depends on a range of factors

You cannot use what’s happening above ground as a guide to what’s happening below, according to new research into alternative desiccants. A key finding from research work in the UK is that the rate of foliage desiccation does not correlate well with that of skinset, the key to harvesting without damage. The discovery was among the key findings of a project examining the best alternative desiccants to diquat carried out by NIAB CUF on behalf of AHDB in the UK. The research focused on the ‘hard to stop’ situations such as indeterminate varieties and seed crops.

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Biotron Lab celebrates storied history as it ends 50-year run as a research center

Since the first research project was initiated there in May 1967, the Biotron Laboratory on the west end of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has been one of a few research centers in the world capable of simulating a range of environmental variables with precision and control for studying plants, animals, materials and materials. The Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Tissue Culture Laboratory has conducted its research at Biotron.

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Focus on innovative microbial approaches: Yara partners with Boost Biomes in joint development agreement

Yara and US-based startup Boost Biomes announced a joint development agreement between the two companies. Yara is investing USD 3 million in Boost, and Erkki Aaltonen, Director of Venture Investments at Yara, will join its board of directors. “This partnership underlines Yara’s commitment to further developing our biostimulant product range under the BIOTRYG platform, as part of our strategy to promote sustainable farming practices,” said Joacim Christiansen, SVP, Yara Farming Solutions.

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Late blight resistant potatoes in Uganda promise impressive returns

Potato is a popular crop in Uganda with great potential for income generation and improving nutrition. So much so that the Ugandan government has declared potato a key crop for the country. In Uganda, International Potato Center (CIP) partners with the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) to release and promote improved varieties of potato and sweetpotato. NARO and CIP have developed a new version of the Victoria variety by adding three resistance genes (3R). The 3R Victoria potatoes are completely resistant to late blight.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor/Publisher of Potato News Today


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