Seed

Moderate seed potato crop in Western Europe results in historic high prices, lower acreage expected in 2024

Seed potato acreage in the Netherlands, Germany, and France is declining, hitting less than 40,000 hectares in the Netherlands, a trend continuing for the third year. Wouter Mutsaers of Q-potato Holland highlights difficulties in managing increased disease pressure and reduced quality and quantity of seed potatoes due to poor conditions. Despite high prices, acreage is not expanding as usual, raising concerns over the supply for ware potato cultivation next season.

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Agrico and The Potato Company to unite: A strategic acquisition to redefine the seed potato industry

Agrico is set to acquire The Potato Company’s seed potato operations, aiming to meet growing global demand. This move, founded on a successful partnership, will enhance Agrico’s presence in Western Europe’s competitive market. TPC will function as a subsidiary, bringing in extensive expertise and a large distribution network. Both companies view the acquisition as beneficial, promising improved returns for growers and setting new industry standards for innovation and cooperation.

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Navigating global challenges: Royal HZPC Group matches previous year’s success and prepares for leadership change

Royal HZPC Group weathered a difficult 2023 in potato breeding, with reduced yields in Europe but expected financial parity with the previous year. Adapting through sales of top seed sizes and exceptional permissions outside the EU, the company offset a 10% European sales drop with a global 3% tonnage increase. A stable €420 million turnover is projected despite debt collection concerns. CEO Gerard Backx will retire in 2024, succeeded by seasoned executive Hans Huistra, promising continued growth and innovation.

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HZPC Americas welcomes Deron Beck to lead product management, strengthening its North American operations

HZPC Americas Corp. has welcomed Deron Beck as their new Product Manager on December 1st, 2023. Boasting a 15-year background in vegetable research and a Masters in Plant Science, Beck’s expertise lies especially in potato-related work. Beck is set to revolutionize the company’s trial planning and product development. HZPC, leading in seed potato trading, operates with 400 employees in 16 countries.

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EU faces dire potato seed supply challenges for 2024 growing season, prices soar

The EU faces a challenging 2024 for potato cultivation with a seed shortage due to a 10,000-hectare decrease in seed-producing areas. Belpotato.be reports average yields and larger seeds with fewer tubers, compounded by viral issues and poor harvests due to rains. Seed prices are rising sharply, affecting all potato sectors. Producers may need to look for seeds outside traditional channels, while industry-wide efforts are needed to stabilize seed cultivation for sustainability.

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Canada’s Prince Edward Island growing a potato partnership with Ukraine

Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is sharing its renowned potato-growing expertise to aid Ukraine’s economic recovery. Former MP Wayne Easter’s P.E.I.-based company initiated a large-scale potato planting and harvesting operation in Ukraine, adapting to local conditions by using Scottish seeds. This project supports Ukraine’s reduced imports from Belarus due to strained relations, aligning with the nation’s need for economic advancement as stressed by the Ukrainian Prime Minister.

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Groundbreaking potato virus detection technology emerges from China’s Sichuan province

Western (Chongqing) Science City has introduced a Potato Seed Virus Nano Microsphere Immunoassay Rapid Diagnostic Kit, designed by Professor Lyu Dianqiu’s team. This significant development offers quick, efficient diagnosis of potato viruses, delivering results in 5 minutes, including for PVX and PVY – far faster than old methods. With high sensitivity and cost-effectiveness, it’s suited for field use, boosting potato quality and yields in China’s major potato region. The kit has reached international markets, aiding Belt and Road Initiative countries.

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A new era in seed potato production: Collaborative efforts to boost seed potato quality in Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has partnered with the Wisconsin Potato Coalition to enhance seed potato production at Starks Early Generation Seed Potato Farm. This collaboration aims to provide clean early-generation foundation seed to Wisconsin’s potato industry. The coalition, comprising experienced growers, will manage the farm’s operations, while university scientists and inspectors will oversee testing and certification, ensuring high-quality seed potatoes for Wisconsin’s $350 million potato industry.

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Spuds in space: China’s pioneering mission to harness cosmic qualities for superior potatoes

Scientists in China have initiated a pioneering project in agriculture by cultivating over 60,000 potato seeds that spent five months in space. These seeds, brought back by the Shenzhou XVI space mission, are being nurtured at the Shangdu Potato Technology Innovation Center in Inner Mongolia. Using advanced techniques like CRISPR, researchers aim to enhance traits such as disease resistance and salt-alkali tolerance.

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West European potato production under severe pressure: NEPG highlights extreme weather and seed shortages

Europe’s potato harvest was negatively impacted by heavy rainfall, causing difficulties in harvesting and potential supply shortages in the NEPG countries – Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and France. Though yields were good, the wet weather left about 1.4 million tonnes unharvested, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium. NEPG warns of increased risks and costs for farmers, deteriorating potato quality, and escalating market prices. Concerns are also rising over seed availability for the Spring 2024 season due to a reduction in seed production.

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The next agricultural wave: Global survey to probe the untapped potential of true potato seed (TPS)

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.

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Latin America: Uruguay’s potato industry’s family-owned leader shines as a seed potato producer

Vicentina S.A., a trailblazer in Uruguay’s potato industry, celebrated its legacy and innovation at the annual Vicentina Potato Day. The event highlighted the company’s global impact, advancements in seed potato production, and commitment to sustainable practices. “Our ambitions transcend national boundaries, fostering growth regionally and globally on the bedrock of innovation, sustainability, collaboration, and trust,” says Alessandro Mietto, co-founder and partner of Vicentina S.A.

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From the Andes to China: British scientist ‘grows’ potatoes at the foot of the Great Wall

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.

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New Zealand’s seed potato revolution: Ensuring top-tier quality for growers

The New Zealand Seed Potato Certification Scheme, established in 1948, ensures high-quality seed potatoes for growers. Managed by Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ), the scheme underwent significant enhancements in 2021 to improve seed traceability and quality. While 95% of seed production is in Canterbury, the scheme’s success is attributed to rigorous inspections and a dedicated PNZ team. Despite challenges, the industry’s commitment ensures New Zealand’s prominence in the global potato market.

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Ensuring potato quality for the future: Univ of Idaho cryogenically preserving potato germplasm for seed growers, researchers

The University of Idaho’s Seed Potato Germplasm Program is introducing a cutting-edge cryopreservation unit to freeze seed potato tissue using liquid nitrogen vapor. This state-of-the-art technology will allow for the long-term storage of up to 1,800 potato varieties and vital breeding clones. The lab, which opened in 2022, aims to provide disease-free potato germplasm globally. Funded by the Atchley Foundation Charitable Trust, this advancement ensures efficient storage, reduced risk of contamination, and addresses challenges like climate change and pests.

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Canary Islands reject Madrid’s potato import proposal

The Canary Islands have declined Madrid’s solution to the potato shortage caused by a poor harvest and a blockade on British imports due to a beetle outbreak. Madrid suggested importing from other UK regions, but this is hindered by protective agricultural regulations. The shortage has led to supply gaps and price surges. The delay in seed imports from the UK also threatens future harvests.

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Mixed emotions: Scottish seed potato exports to Northern Ireland to resume, but concerns over EU exports remain

Scottish seed potato exports to Northern Ireland will recommence on 30 September, a move welcomed by Gordon MP Richard Thomson. However, Thomson expressed concern over the UK Government’s lack of discussions about lifting the EU export ban since March. The SNP MP criticized the government’s handling of Brexit and its impact on Scottish producers, emphasizing the global reputation of Scottish seed potatoes and the need for restored export markets.

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Addressing potato wart: Prince Edward Island and industry officials to draft plan for ‘pest-free places’

The potato sector of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is collaborating with federal officials to develop a “pest-free places of production” (PFPP) system. Federal Agriculture Minister and P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay on Friday reported meeting with staff and representatives of the P.E.I. Potato Board, to discuss next steps in the face of new potato wart-related restrictions on the province’s crops since 2021.

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Chinese investors eye potato seed production, by-products in Pakistan

Pakistan’s potato production soared to 7.937 million tonnes in FY22 from 5.873 million tonnes in FY21, up 35 percent as the devastating floods left Punjab, the potato hub, mostly unscathed. Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) President Moazzam Ghurki on Wednesday said Pakistan could be among the largest exporters of potato. PCJCCI Senior Vice President Fang Yulong said that Pakistani and Chinese enterprises have been working tirelessly to find opportunities for cooperation in this sector.

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Scotland’s seed potato industry at a crossroads, calls for united front

Scotland’s renowned seed potato industry faces challenges, with only 186 registered growers remaining. A report from The Scottish Farmer emphasizes the need for unity and collaboration. The recent split from AHDB’s levy-backed services raises concerns about funding for essential research and market expansion. Experts stress the importance of global market penetration and representation at key trade events to ensure the sector’s sustainable future.

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CFIA potato wart probe finally over, but P.E.I. seed potato export ban continues

Nearly two years after the U.S. market was closed to Prince Edward Island potato sales, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has completed an investigation sparked by the detection of potato wart in two Island fields back in 2021. Over the course of the investigation, CFIA staff collected and analyzed nearly 50,000 soil samples from fields associated with those detections of the fungus, which disfigures potatoes and sharply reduces crop yield but is not harmful to humans. 

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Restrain’s new podcast series to offer valuable storage information for potato growers around the world

Restrain company has launched a new podcast series aimed at potato growers and storage managers. The series offers insights on ethylene storage, the Accumulator program, and ripening processes. Restrain, known for using ethylene gas to suppress sprouting in potatoes and onions, is expanding to the US and Canada. The first episode features a discussion on the benefits of Restrain’s unique Accumulator seed treatment for potato storage programs.

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Tanzania’s potato seed industry gets a boost from Dutch partnership

Tanzania and the Netherlands are collaborating to develop a vibrant potato seed sector in Tanzania. The partnership has led to the registration of 12 Dutch certified potato seed varieties, potentially increasing productivity. The government is creating a conducive environment for private sector involvement, addressing issues like postharvest losses, and launching guidelines for the avocado sector. The initiative aims to enhance food security and create business opportunities.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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