Studies/Reports

Research breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University. In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both potato and rice plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress.

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Canadian crop update: Good moisture levels in the east, hot and dry in the west

Growing conditions across the country seem to have reversed regionally from a year ago. This year the four main growing provinces in eastern and central Canada have received good moisture levels to date, while the four western provinces have been extremely hot and dry. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) provides an up to date summary of crop growth across the country.

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Canadian growers planted more potatoes in 2021, although still well below 2003 peak

Statistics Canada released their first estimate of potato acreage in Canada from data obtained with their survey of Canadian potato growers. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) reports that the 2021 potato acreage is estimated at 378,624 acres. This is an increase of 5.3% above 2020. It is still well below its peak of 457,500 acres which occurred back in 2003.

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Annual Report: McCain Foods in Britain impacted by pandemic and poor potato crop

McCain Foods (GB) Ltd is a leading manufacturer of frozen potato products in Great Britain. The company this week released its “Annual Report and Unaudited Financial Statements for the Financial Year ended June 2020”. According to the annual report, McCain saw drop in annual sales and fell to a loss last year as Covid hit its out of home sales and it suffered from a poor potato crop.

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European potato growers reduced planted area in 2021

The total potato area within the NEPG zone (EU-04) has been reduced by 4,7%, according to a press release issued by the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG). Potato area in EU-04 declines from 522.300 ha to 497.700 ha (-24.600 ha). There was a decrease in all countries, but most in Belgium and the Netherlands who had the highest increases in area these last years, with total plantings less than the 5 year average. This is a historical event.

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The pathogen with a ‘sharp knife’: Researchers discover how late blight enters plants

It has long been a mystery how this microscopically small organism and other members of the Phytophthora genus mechanically gain entry through the protective layer on the leaves of crops. In a unique collaboration, Wageningen University & Research experts in plant pathology, cell biology and physics have now found an answer to this question. Their discovery also provides new leads to making the control of Phytophthora more effective, more efficient and more sustainable on the long term.

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New discovery to have a profound impact on potato breeding

Researchers at the hybrid potato breeding company Solynta and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have identified, cloned and characterized the gene for self-compatibility in potatoes called “Sli”. This discovery will have a profound impact on potato breeding. With Sli defined, breeders can implement hybrid breeding which will allow for faster and focused rather than opportunistic breeding. The technique could also help to quickly develop new potato varieties that are adapted to local conditions such as drought or flooding.

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Survey: European farmers view climate change as main challenge for future potato production

Europatat is part of an international consortium involved in the research project ADAPT (“Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”), which aims to develop new strategies for making potatoes fit for the challenging production conditions of the future. ADAPT asked farmers about their perception of climate change, their experiences concerning its impact on potato production, and their need for adapted potato varieties. Almost 90% of the survey respondents indicated that climate change had affected their potato production in the last 10 years, and almost 50% defined climatic change as a threat to maintain potato production at their farms.

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Old foe, new information: Alternaria monitoring indicates application timing

Results of last season’s Syngenta alternaria monitoring in British potato crops has further reinforced the pattern of earliest infection from A. alternata, with A. solani typically coming into crops later in the season. The monitoring is undertaken by independent and industry potato agronomists sampling suspected cases throughout the season, with laboratory analysis by NIAB specialists to determine the species of alternaria (early blight) present.

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Chinese scientists make breakthrough in potato breeding

A research team led by Professor Huang Sanwen with the Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen initiated the “Upotato Plan”, which utilized the theory and methods of genome design to carry out hybrid potato breeding, ‘re-inventing’ the potato from a clonally propagated tetraploid crop into an inbred line-based diploid crop, propagated by seeds.

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Pandemic impact: Home consumption of fresh potatoes in Belgium increased by eight percent

Potatoes are the top side dish in Belgium. On an average day in 2020, 41% of Belgians ate these (incl. fries). A lot of people were already eating potatoes at home. But, due to COVID-19 and its related measures, that rose in 2020. That’s according to a Flemish Agri and Fisheries Marketing Center (VLAM) press release. In 2020, home consumption of fresh potatoes increased by eight percent. That ended the downward trend in in-home consumption.

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Canadian potato growers optimistic about crop outlook

The potato crop in Canada is in varying stages – from emergence to touching between rows. Potato growers everywhere are optimistic for the good growing conditions needed to move this crop in its early life stages, writes Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada in the latest crop report issued today. He provides a summary of how the crop looks across the country.

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Study: Potato nutrients can help reduce sodium retention, may help reduce risk of hypertension

A new study published in Nutrients investigated the effect of increased dietary potassium from a whole food source – baked/boiled potatoes and baked French fries – or a potassium supplement on blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors compared to a ‘typical American’ control diet (lower potassium intake) among 30 pre-hypertensive to hypertensive men and women.

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New report: Lamb Weston affirms commitment to sustainability, reducing agriculture footprint

Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. issued its second annual Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) report this week, which included new 2030 ESG goals. The company also announced that in partnership with European joint venture Lamb Weston / Meijer, the organizations have committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and will align carbon emissions targets to support the United Nations Paris Agreement.

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Researchers say Irish potato famine pathogen stoked outbreaks on six continents

North Carolina State University researchers continue to track the evolution of different strains of the plant pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which set down roots in the United States before attacking Europe. NC State plant pathologists studied the genomes of about 140 pathogen samples – historic and modern – from 37 countries on six continents to track the evolution of differing strains of Phytophthora infestans, a major cause of late-blight disease on potato and tomato plants.

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‘Farms of the Future’: McCain pledges to use only regeneratively-farmed potatoes by 2030

As part of today’s release of McCain’s 2020 Global Sustainability report the company is pledging that it will be implementing regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its global potato acreage by 2030. This transition will restore and protect soil health and quality and look to natural processes to control pests, prevent plant disease and strengthen crops against severe weather events.

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Webinar: How to use artificial intelligence to quickly analyze data related to potato bruising and browning

During an upcoming webinar a team of researchers at JADBio will demonstrate how they applied the company’s Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) solution to quickly analyze a complex set of data during a recent project with different potato varieties. The researchers were able to successfully predict potatoes’ susceptibility to bruising as well as the potato samples’ potential for coloration during chip/crisp processing. The webinar will be presented by experts at JADBio, in partnership with Potato News Today. It is titled: “How to employ Automated Machine Learning to Predict the Best Quality Potato Chip/Crisp”.

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UPGC reports on Canadian potato crop progress, upcoming Crop Transition Conference

Potato growers everywhere always look forward to cleaning off the slate and starting a new crop, says the general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), Kevin MacIsaac, in the latest potato crop update for Canada. MacIsaac notes that planting in Western Canada is winding up, while growers in the Atlantic region are in full planting mode. He also reports details on the upcoming Crop Transition Conference, to be held on Monday, June 14th beginning at 1:00 CDT in Fargo, North Dakota.

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Blight fungicide and application trials at Eurofins

Michael Tait, Syngenta Technical Manager and Harry Fordham, Syngenta New Farming Technologies Lead present the 2020 Syngenta trials at Eurofins in this video published on the SyngentaUK YouTube channel. Tait and Fordham report on blight fungicide activity and new application advice for the Syngenta 3D90 nozzle, delivering outstanding efficacy, along with 90% drift reduction.

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The ‘touchy-feely’ potato: Researchers developed bio-sensor to detect early signs of plant stress

In an effort to increase agricultural productivity and limit waste, a team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment developed a method to detect signs of stress before potato plants are damaged. By employing genetic engineering, the team introduced a new gene coded to a fluorescent protein that reports the level of reactive ‘oxygen specieses’ – highly reactive molecules whose accumulation signifies stress responses.

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British potato industry to miss out on important information reports as AHDB ceases publication

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK announced on Friday that its Market Intelligence department’s provision of potato price information will cease on Friday 2nd July 2021. The final Weekly Average Price Survey (WAPS) will be published on Tuesday 29th June, and the final Potato Weekly on Friday 2nd July. AHDB says in a news release that several other market information reports will also not be published any more in future.

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European potato outlook: Planted area expected to be down, processors anticipate increased demand

As plantings for the 2021 potato crop in North-western Europe is wrapping up, the NEPG reports that the final planted potato area within the NEPG region (EU-4) will most likely be reduced by 3 to 5 percent. The so-called EU-4 countries include the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. NEPG says this is an absolutely historical event. The free market is in a bullish mood, as processors expect some kind of boom or at least an increase in demand in the coming weeks and months.

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Frito-Lay consumer snacking poll: Memorial Day kicks off an anticipated ‘breakout summer’

Memorial Day on May 31 in the US is expected to kick off an anticipated ‘breakout summer’ as consumers catch up on activities they missed out on last year, and however and wherever consumers are celebrating, snacks will be plentiful, Frito-Lay says in a press release. Frito-Lay’s latest U.S. Snack Index, a poll focused on consumers’ snacking habits, found that eight in 10 indicated they plan many activities outside the house during Memorial Day.

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Potatoes exposed to heat stress: Hot spots point to targets for Quantis biostimulant treatment

Rising temperatures resulting from climate change is exposing more potato crops to the damaging extremes of heat stress more frequently. A study of trends has shown it is temperate climates, including the UK, that are bearing the brunt of some of the extremes in weather changes. However, analysing weather data on a more local level can indicate crops that are most at risk of heat stress, and how to adapt agronomy to cope, advocates Syngenta Head of Technical, Dave King.

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Report: Insecticide resistance in aphids and virus management in potatoes

A new report indicates the pyrethroid sensitivity of two important aphid virus vectors. Sue Cowgill, AHDB Crop Protection Senior Scientist (Pests) in the UK looks at what the results mean for potato growers. Sue writes that these days, growers have access to fewer modes of action to control insect pests. Concerns that this encourages the emergence of resistance are recognised in the Draft National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides. While this may eventually deliver a comprehensive strategy for insecticide resistance management; in the short term, we have to use the information and insecticides that are available now.

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U.S. potato exports face many challenges

U.S. potato exports have faced a great deal of adversity in the current marketing year. Potatoes USA says that demand for frozen potato products declined precipitously in the spring of 2020, and this lower level of demand carried over through the first quarter of the marketing year (July – September 2020). As restrictions eased and the markets adjusted, demand began to return in the fall, but then shipping issues began to limit the ability of U.S. exporters to meet this demand.

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Can extracts from northern-hardwood trees become a substitute for CIPC? Canadian researchers think so

Chlorpropham (or CIPC) is widely used as a sprout suppressing agrochemical applied to stored potatoes almost globally, although its use has been banned by the EU not long ago. It is expected to be banned in Canada as well in future. Researchers in Quebec are optimistic about the anti-sprouting properties of extracts from black spruce, yellow birch and balsam fir that grow in northern-hardwood forests.

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